In the last few weeks, news has come across the web that retail giants Amazon and Walmart have acquired several start-up companies with a view toward taking full advantage of the benefits offered by social and mobile technologies.

Amazon Acquires Quorus

WebProNews reports that Amazon has acquired social commerce software company Quorus, not so much for its technology, but for its talent. Quorus co-founder Logan Bowers left to become a software engineer at Amazon and other members of the company have joined Amazon, as well.

Quorus offers a social shopping app that allows shoppers to connect privately with friends via Twitter, text or email to ask their opinions on products.

Mashable goes so far as to foster the idea that Amazon intends to build its own “social network,” by cobbling together its bevy of digital services and leveraging the Kindle platform. Rather than rely on a third-party service to provide the functionality needed to make that happen Amazon decided to own it by virtue of this acquisition.

Walmart Focused on Social, Mobile Commerce

The retail Goliath has turned to some social commerce Davids in order to advance its social-mobile commerce agenda.

Last month, Reuters reported that Walmart, through a recent startup of its own, @WalmartLabs, is “aggressively hiring” developers (mainly from India where the company has established a presence) and earlier this year acquired two companies – social data gathering startup, Kosmix, and point of sale technology company, Grabble.

“Walmart Stores Inc has turned to a small group of technology entrepreneurs to help the world’s largest retailer improve its online fortunes,” says Reuters.

The tagline on the @WalmartLabs site – Social + Mobile + Retail – concisely declares its intent, which is to “[redefine] commerce for the largest retailer in the world.” Largest offline, that is. Walmart lags behind companies like Amazon, Apple, Staples, Dell and Office Depot in online sales, says Reuters.

@WalmartLabs is focusing these redefinition through the use of what it refers to as “Social Genomes,” the ”giant knowledge base that captures interesting entities and relationships of the social world.” Through the use of this social-mapping technology (first developed by Kosmix) that Wal-Mart hopes to improve the shopping experience for users, making social recommendations more highly personalized.

@WalmartLabs social genome

WalmartLabs Social Genome

What These Acquisitions Really Mean

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what these acquisitions really mean – that e-commerce is a big deal and its future, at least where these two behemoths are concerned, lies in the homogenous integration of social and mobile technologies into online retail. In Amazon’s case, there is yet much to be disclosed, but you can be assured that we’ll keep a keen eye on where the trend is headed.

The larger and more important story is what this portends for the future of social commerce overall. Its an example of predictive modeling that suggests if Amazon and Walmart are moving in this direction, others are likely to follow suit.

What do you see as the importance of these acquisitions and what they mean for the future of social commerce?