How Will Black Friday Evolve with AI?


In 2018, there's two types of people when it comes to Black Friday shopping. Type one skips turnkey and those delicious mashed potatoes and bolts to the stores for long lines and abrasive bargain shoppers. Type two maximizes his/her appetite by indulging in every classic Thanksgiving dish, still leaving ample room for pumpkin pie, and opts for fuzzy slippers, football games, and online shopping, instead.

This year, Black Friday generated a record breaking $6.22 billion (yes, with a “B”) dollars—and applies exclusively to online sales. As technology continues to influence the way consumers interact with brands, we must consider how the most climactic retail event of the year will evolve accordingly. At this point, we thoroughly understand the need for retailers to provide accessibility and transparency to customers in way of product information, but how will artificial intelligence change consumer demands? These four components of the buying experience resemble elements marketers need to devote increased attention to.

Pre-Sale Customer Service

The eCommerce Foundation recently published research showing that 88% of consumers spend time researching products online prior to making a tangible purchase—either in a brick and mortar storefront or by placing an order digitally. With accessibility to information and competition of prices and offers at an all-time high, consumers value comfort when making big transactions. This resembles a huge opportunity for brands to amp up their customer service initiatives in the early stages of the buying process. By ensuring customers can conveniently find the information they’re looking for, brands are positioning themselves for more sales and more revenue. And considering the scope of available AI-powered technologies, implementing necessary shifts to meet this demand is a feasible investment. Whether the execution is through chat, voice or smart speakers, it’s an initiative that’s valued by consumers, and is expected to experience tremendous growth in the coming years.

Personalization at Scale

The trend of personalization isn’t a new one, but it is gaining exponentially more traction. In 2016, Statista published research showing that personalized email messages were opened and read 18.8% of the time, as opposed to non-personalized emails which were only opened and read 13.1% of the time. Making your customers feel seen and acknowledged is a challenge that the majority of brands currently face, but thanks to AI, implementing minor adjustments, like personalized emails, is doable. In its ability to communicate at scale, AI can be utilized in scenarios where it’s beneficial for brands to target specific messages and promotional offers to specific segments of their consumer base. For example, think about targeting a newly-wed couple that likely just bought a new house, or a couple that recently found out their expecting. Using this tactic to generate sales is lucrative, and it reinforces brand loyalty as customers are responsive to the brands who appear to know their needs.

AI Campaign Management

Another imperative component to the growth of your brand is ensuring you’re getting exposure to new customers who have yet to interact with what you have to offer. By utilizing the powers of AI, you can input very specific, high-level commands and entrust the system to execute as needed, so you can achieve more efficiency in your marketing initiatives overall. AI also provides insights supporting specific strategy suggestions and generates a detailed look at how effective each marketing initiative is to give brands a more comprehensive idea of what’s working and what’s not.

Data, data, data

Data is at the root of all commerce, and it’s an imperative tool that enables brands to maximize their efforts and strategies. AI helps to keep these numbers organized, and presents a more manageable approach to understanding what story the available data is really telling. As the buzz around Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday continues to multiply, AI will be a key force in advising what moves brands should play in order to generate the success they want and need.