How about sharing your thoughts on what 2012 will bring?

I’ll start – While 2011 could be called the year eRetailers got interested in mobile and social media, 2012 will likely be the year of the tablet, and … more social media.

As retailers begin to understand how people search, shop, and consume content on mobile devices, the soaring popularity of the iPad (one of the must-have items on people’s holiday wish lists this year), presents new challenges for retailers, as well as for those of us who provide products and services to them, in delivering a compelling shopping experience on the new “fourth screen.”

For tablets like the iPad and Kindle Fire, the requirements for creating user-friendly search and navigation experiences are different than those for the mobile screen. We have more screen real estate to work with when it comes to tablets, which means a better display of product images and an easier-to-use touchscreen. On the other hand, “t-commerce” or “couch-commerce” will require a different experience than what is displayed on a personal computer or mobile screen. Site owners (and companies like ours) need to brainstorm ways to take advantage of the benefits of tablets (like brilliant displays of photos and videos), while keeping navigation streamlined.

For instance, tapping the screen is the standard method of navigation for tablets. However, small text menus – for instance, which you might find in lists of refinements – are hard to tap on without hitting another menu item by mistake. The same goes for buttons that are too close together, or pagination numbers: easy to click on with a mouse, tough to click on with a finger. In addition, as GetElastic reports, tablets are making it possible for website visitors to interact with content in new ways: people can “touch” content, swiping and zooming to choose how they view text and images. This tactile interaction may cause us to discover new ways to present information, new ways to display navigation, and new possibilities for innovative merchandising and SEO.

Users spend lots of time on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and now Pinterest. We can expect that the merging of e-commerce and social media will gain even more prominence in the months ahead. As we’ve discussed before in this blog, site owners have realized that if people are spending more and more time with their friends on social networks, the website search and shopping experience needs to come to the social setting – instead of trying to lure people away from their social networks.

Now, your turn. What are your predictions for 2012?