Why Social Isn’t Helping Online Retailers Find Customers

By Mikal E. Belicove|For Entrepreneur.com|May 5, 2011

Online retailers in the U.S. reaped an impressive $176 billion in sales last year, an 11 percent increase over 2009. That pretty much establishes Web retailing as a legitimate tactic that should command respect from those who market and sell their wares exclusively within a brick and mortar environment.

But a new study finds that while online sales continue to compete well with physical retail establishments, most online merchants believe that social media-related marketing does little in the way of lifting sales — calling into question what if any benefits businesses actually derive from participating in social media.

Sixty-two percent of online retailers say their return on investment is either unaffected by social media or that the benefits remain unclear, according to Forrester Research’s The State of Retailing Online 2011: Marketing, Social & Mobile, which was released earlier this week to members of Shop.org, the online retail division of the National Retail Federation.

Although the online retailers polled say they are…

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