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Shoppers Play ‘Discount Chicken’ and Tap Into AI as They Await Cyber Week Deals

Salesforce data and insights based on the activity of 1.5 billion shoppers reveal a slow start to the holiday shopping season as consumers hold out for strong Cyber Week discounts

AI influenced 16% of global purchases in the lead up to Cyber Week, while chatbot sessions increased 35% year-over-year globally

Holiday shopping is gaining momentum mid-way through November, but U.S. consumers are largely holding back on purchases as they wait for the best Cyber Week deals. 

Driving the news: Early online holiday sales are down in the United States (-2%) and up only 3% globally year over year (YoY), indicating that consumers are still searching for the biggest and best deals of the season. 

  • These findings come from the Salesforce Shopping Index, a benchmark that aggregates and analyzes data from across its Customer 360 platform (including 29 of the top 30 U.S. online retailers).

Momentum is picking up as Cyber Week approaches:

  • After three years of increasing inflation, consumers are buying – albeit cautiously – by making tradeoffs, comparing prices, and looking for the best deals.
  • While Amazon Prime’s “Big Deal Days” has become the symbolic start to the holiday season, shopping really picked up during the first two weeks of November:
    • Globally, online traffic (+17%), product views (+17%), and sales (+19%) were up by double digits during the first two weeks of November compared to the same period in October.
    • U.S. online traffic (+20%), product views (+22%), and sales (+25%) were also up by double digits.

The Salesforce perspective: “Consumers are taking control of their budgets and seeking value as they shop this holiday,” said Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail. “With a quarter of all holiday sales expected to take place during Cyber Week, this will be the time for retailers to pull out all the stops – including promotions, loyalty rewards, financing options, and personalized product recommendations to drive shoppers to buy.”

  • “AI has already influenced 16% of the purchases made around the globe in the last six weeks. We anticipate retailers leaning into both predictive and generative AI throughout Cyber Week to drive costs down and loyalty up,” Garf continued.

“AI has already influenced 16% of the purchases made around the globe in the last six weeks. We anticipate retailers leaning into both predictive and generative AI throughout Cyber Week to drive costs down and loyalty up.”

Rob Garf, VP and GM of Retail

Salesforce Shopping Index early holiday indicators (Oct. 1–Nov. 14): 

  • Online traffic grows ahead of Cyber Week: Digital traffic was up 5% globally and 5% in the U.S. YoY as consumers started their searches for holiday gifts in early fall.
  • Holiday shoppers walk before they run: Consumers browsed, but held off on buying in the early holiday season. Product views grew by 6% globally and 5% in the U.S. as global sales either declined or just slightly increased.
  • AI continues to power the path to purchase: Sixteen percent of orders globally and 14% of U.S. orders were influenced by AI since the start of October – through avenues such as AI-powered product recommendations, targeted promotions and product descriptions.
  • Brands scale and automate service: In the run-up to the deluge of customer service queries, chatbot sessions increased 35% YoY globally during this time period, allowing brands to provide efficient responses on basic questions while spending more time driving personalized experiences with their loyal shoppers.
  • Shoppers choose alternative payment methods at checkout: The use of Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) solutions like Klarna and Afterpay grew 5% globally and 7% in U.S, whereas mobile wallet channels like Apple Pay grew at a massive rate of 65% globally and 53% in the U.S.
  • The highest discounts of the season thus far were found in: 
    • Home Furniture (22%)
    • General Apparel (22%)
    • Beauty Skincare (22%)
  • Digital marketing messages grow in the lead up Cyber Week: In an effort to entice shoppers, retailers are focusing on marketing promotions on digital channels. Email marketing messages grew 8% globally YoY. 

Salesforce’s Cyber Week 2023 predictions: Reviewing real-time aggregate data stemming from Commerce Cloud, Service Cloud, and Marketing Cloud, Salesforce expects to see three major trends during this year’s most critical shopping week:

  • A slow start to holiday shopping will drive a high volume Cyber Week: Similar to 2022, Cyber Week is anticipated to account for over 25% of all holiday purchases this year. While holiday shopping was spread out more evenly across November in 2020 and 2021, this year’s more price-conscious consumers are waiting to see what deals come their way on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday.
  • AI will drive shoppers to the buy button: The share of orders influenced by AI will likely increase to 18% during Cyber Week – representing global online sales reaching an estimated $53 billion.
  • Discount rates are expected to be attractive: As consumers wait for the biggest and best deals of the season, global discounts are likely to reach 29% globally and 30% for the U.S. These are on par with pre-pandemic discount levels.
    • The highest discounts, globally, across Cyber Week are expected in:
      • Skincare and Makeup (34%)
      • General Apparel (32%)
      • Active Apparel (30%)
    • The highest discounts on Black Friday are expected to be found in:
      • Health & Beauty (29%)
      • Active Apparel (29%)
      • General Apparel (23%)

Explore further:

  • Visit Salesforce’s Shopping Insights HQ for real-time Cyber Week results
  • Discover how to win over consumers this holiday shopping season here
  • Find Salesforce’s earlier 2023 holiday predictions here and here

2023 Salesforce holiday insights and predictions methodology

Powered by Commerce Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Commerce Cloud, Salesforce analyzed aggregated data to produce holiday insights from the activity of more than 1.5 billion global shoppers across more than 64 countries, with a focus on 12 key markets: the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia/New Zealand, the Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan, Australia, and New Zealand), and the Nordics. This battery of benchmarks provides a deep look into the last nine quarters and the current state of digital commerce. Several factors are applied to extrapolate macroeconomic figures for the broader retail industry, and these results are not indicative of Salesforce performance.

The prediction data that we present are from proprietary Salesforce research. The calculations we use blend first-party and third-party data, as well as several market assumptions, to generate the data points we present.


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