Nearly 1 in 5 dollars of digital sales during cyber week was influenced by AI

As much as $51bn of global online sales were influenced by AI in areas such as targeted offers, product recommendations, and generative AI-powered chat services.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer
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The 2023 cyber week figures based on analysis of shopping data from more than 1.5 billion shoppers -- as captured and analyzed by Salesforce, which included 29 of the top 30 US online retailers -- saw a 6% year over year (YoY) increase in global sales, hitting $298 billion, with US sales reaching $70.8 billion and increasing 5% YoY. 

The analysis of digital sales identified how attractive discount rates drove strong sales growth on the two biggest online shopping days of the year -- Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Also: Have you used generative AI to shop? 17% of shoppers have

The sales growth in the US by specific day included: $7.5B on Thanksgiving (+1% YoY), $16.4B on Black Friday (+9% YoY), $12.6B on Cyber Monday (+3% YoY), and a total of $70.8B across the whole cyber week (+5% YoY). 

Here are some of the most interesting trends based on the review of over 1.5 billion shoppers during cyber week: 

  • Shoppers were greatly influenced by artifical intelligence (AI) -- Seamless and personalized shopping, enabled by AI, helped fuel online growth and customer profitability. As much as $51 billion of global online sales were influenced by AI in areas such as targeted offers, product recommendations, and generative AI-powered chat services.
  • Retailers are leveraging automation to increase efficiency, scale, and to offer faster services to consumers -- Retailers leaned into automation on some of the biggest online shopping days of the year. Chatbot messages across cyber weekend increased by 79% YoY globally. Customer service interactions by case volume grew by 7% during cyber week. Call volumes grew by 46% during the same period. 
  • Shoppers use mobile devices to make purchases -- A record breaking 79% of cyber week ecommerce traffic was via mobile phones, up from 76% in 2022. Consumers are both mobile and social. Social traffic on mobile represented 10% of all referrals to retailer websites, making social an important channel for customer acquisitions. 
  • US shoppers adopted alternative payment options and mobile wallets -- Payment options, such as Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) to finance purchases, saw an 8% increase in orders YoY. US consumers also used mobile wallets to complete transactions on their phones -- usage increased by as much as 54% in the US YoY, with Apple Pay driving the majority of the growth (54%). 
  • Digital marketing channels are growing with greater engagement levels -- Email volumes grew by 9% YoY during cyber week. Email saw an 18% open rate, 0.7% click rate, and 0.02% unsubscribe rate during cyber week. Push/SMS/OTT grew by 37% YoY, including over-the-top messaging apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Business Messages, and Instagram to help retailers connect and chat with customers.

We can anticipate that future digital sales will be even more impacted by AI. AS, the evolution of the AI assistant, will mature in the near future in three phases: 

  • Phase I: Assistant -- The AI assistant listens to what you want and delivers exactly that.
  • Phase II: Concierge -- The AI concierge listens to your command and provides what you want plus additional useful information.
  • Phase III: Agent -- The AI agent can do all the same things as an assistant or concierge, but it can also perform actions without being asked. Think of this third phase as an executive assistant to whom you've ceded control of your email, calendar, and expenses.

AI powered assistants and agents on consumer's mobile devices will continue to have a growing influence on shopping experiences. Generative AI use across social networks will also create community-led influence on retailer brands and buyers. 

Also: 5 emerging use cases of generative AI in commerce, according to Mastercard

What's clear is that the digital shopping experience in a hyper-connected, knowledge-sharing, socially tuned, mobile only/first, AI-powered economy will continue to evolve, with greater share of consumer share of mind, attention, loyalty, advocacy, and sales. 

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