Remember when the internet was being pitched as the saviour of commerce? Right up until the dotcom crash of 1999?
Pepperidge Farm remembers. But I digress. That dark period seems like a lifetime ago now, and in the world of digital commerce, it absolutely is: more than $50 billion was spent on retail e-commerce sales in the first quarter of this year in the U.S. alone. And that was just on desktops. Factor in mobile and tablet sales, and baby, you’ve got a stew going.
But what about social media? That, too, has been repeatedly pitched as the “saviour” of retail, albeit now in its online flavour. So how much referral traffic are platforms such as Facebook and Twitter generating for your favourite online stores?
Answer: a pretty measly amount, suggests new research from L2 Think Tank, which proposes that just 2.4 percent of consumer visits to retail websites comes from social media.
As you might expect, this paltry tally pales in comparison to search (35.5 percent) and direct visits (33.9 percent), and is less than one-third of all traffic from email.
These numbers are lousy, but here’s a thought: perhaps social media, circa 2013, is retail’s latest “dotcom bubble”, and we’ll look back 10 years from now and wonder why we ever doubted it. Or maybe it will never generate significant traffic for these websites. Time, as they say, will tell.