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Chatbots are becoming a mainstay of everyday commerce, helping customers quickly connect with brands of all types and sizes and facilitate online sales.

According to a new study from Intercom, the automated messaging bots are also helping businesses save considerable amounts of money, with business leaders saving an average of $300,000 in 2019. However, the findings also reveal a disconnect between shoppers’ preferences and chatbot prevalence.

Notably the study found that 74% of customers surveyed expect to encounter chatbots on a website, though more than 85% of customers still prefer speaking with a human.

Although shoppers may not prefer chatbots, there are plenty of signs to suggest the bots are a uniquely powerful tool for driving sales. One prediction from Juniper Networks estimates the tool will drive more than $110 billion in retail sales by 2023.

The reason is that having a human available to respond to questions isn’t always feasible. Brands may not have the budget to have a receptionist or social media manager available at all times.

These bots help fill a needed gap in customer service, marketing, and sales simultaneously – leading to higher sell-through rates according to the Intercom study.

“Chatbots increased sales by an average of 67%, with 26% of all sales starting through a chatbot interaction,” the study found.

While Black Friday sales are in a slump, a new king of the holiday shopping season is rising. The results Cyber Monday are coming in and estimates suggest this year broke e-commerce sales records for the biggest day of online sales in US history.

According to Adobe, online sales hit over $3 billion dollars on Cyber Monday. Their report says 200 million visits to 4,500 retail websites generated $3.06 billion, rising 16 percent from last year.

Approximately 26 percent of those sales came from mobile devices, accounting for $799 million in sales. The majority of those sales ($575 million) came from Apple iOS devices. In comparison, Android devices drove just $219 million in mobile sales.

ChannelAdvisor and Custora have found similar results in their analysis of Cyber Monday sales.

ChannelAdvisor says Cyber Monday sales leaped 18 percent year over year on a same-store-sales basis. They found mobile devices accounted for 43 percent of traffic, however their results also found consumers are still relying on desktops to make the final purchase. Their analysis says 24 percent of sales came from smartphones.

Custora’s findings estimate e-commerce revenue climbed 16.2 percent from last year, with tablets and phones driving 26.9 percent of all Cyber Monday sales.

The notable increase in Cyber Monday sales may be due to bigger discounts than expected, with an average discount of 21.5 percent.

Another notable report from HookLogic says the average order value among advertisers on its platform hit $134 on Cyber Monday, just below the $137 AOV seen on Black Friday. Interestingly, carts had fewer items on Cyber Monday, which suggests consumers waited for the online sales to make their purchase.

Source: Nordstrom

Source: Nordstrom

Halloween isn’t even here yet, but many retailers are already prepping for the holiday sales surge. According to the National Retail Federation, those retailers can also plan on seeing an even more sales than last year. The NRF predicts sales will jump 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion in November and December 2015.

While the total amount of sales is still expected to rise this year, the increase isn’t as large as the boost in 2014. Last year’s sales grew 4.3 percent compared to 2013.

Online sales are expected to see a large amount of this increase, outpacing the overall growth by rising between 6 and 8 percent this year to $105 billion.

According to the NRF’s report, holiday sales could account for around 19 percent of the retail industry’s total annual sales, projected to reach $3.2 trillion. Those predictions exclude auto, gas, and restaurant sales.

“With several months of solid retail sales behind us, we’re heading into the all-important holiday season fully expecting to see healthy growth,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We expect families to spend prudently and deliberately, though still less constrained than what we saw even two years ago.”

“Price, value and even timing will all play a role in how, when, where and why people shop over the holiday season,” said Shay. “Retailers will be competitive not only on price, but on digital initiatives, store hours, product offerings and much more.”

The NRF holiday sales forecast takes into account many factors including consumer credit levels, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases. The numbers do include a non-store category which considers direct-to-consumer, kiosks, and online sales.

 

A report by the US Commerce Department shows e-commerce sales in the US shot up 14.1 percent over the past year while overall retail sales have only climbed one percent year-over-year.

In the second quarter of this year, US e-commerce sales jumped to $83.9 billion in the second quarter compared to Q2 2014, even after adjusting for seasonality, according to the report published Monday.

In total, 7.2 percent of the estimated $1,171.5 billion in US retail sales transactions took place online during the second quarter, rising from 7.0 percent in the first quarter of the year and 6.3 percent a year ago.

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When not accounting for seasonal retail variations, the Commerce Department estimates US retail e-commerce sales racked up to $78.8 billion, jumping 5.1 percent from Q1 and 14.4 percent year-over-year. When not accounting for seasonality, the report finds e-commerce sales drove approximately 6.6 percent of all retail sales.

The data was based on a sampling of around 10,000 US retail companies, excluding food services, and may have included firms without an e-commerce presence.