TECHNOLOGY

Study: Desktop sales jump 26% on Cyber Monday

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Despite mobile commerce’s ongoing growth, desktop sales hit a milestone on Cyber Monday.

Desktop online spending reached $3.36 billion on Cyber Monday, up 26% versus year ago. This represents the heaviest online spending day in history, and the first day to ever surpass $3 billion in desktop sales, according to comScore.

Thanksgiving weekend as a whole proved to be strong for desktop sales. It marked the third straight year in which both Saturday and Sunday individually had billion-dollar online shopping days, combining for $2.92 billion for a year-over-year increase of 17%. For the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, online buying from desktop computers totaled $10.21 billion, up 21% versus last year, the data revealed.

“Cyber Monday once again ranked as the heaviest online spending day of all-time and became the first day to ever exceed $3 billion in sales from desktop computers,” said comScore senior VP of marketing and insights Andrew Lipsman.

“Every year it seems there’s talk of the big promotional days becoming less important as promotions get extended across so much of the season, but the data suggest the exact opposite – that the biggest promotional days are only getting more important with time,” Lipsman said. “Online retailers have conditioned consumers to be very responsive to the deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which is why they have consistently shown above-average growth rates year after year.”

Other highlights include:

• 140 million Americans visited online retail properties on Cyber Monday, with 77 million arriving via desktop, 103 million via mobile, and 40 million shopping on both platforms. The total number of digital shoppers on Cyber Monday surpassed Black Friday’s total by 11 million.

• Amazon once again ranked as the most visited online retail property on Cyber Monday, followed by Walmart and eBay.

• Apparel & Accessories ranked as the top product category on Cyber Monday, with nearly $900 million in desktop sales, followed by Consumer Electronics and Computer Hardware, respectively.

• Consumer Packaged Goods was the fastest-growing category year-over-year on Cyber Monday, followed by Toys & Hobbies, and Apparel & Accessories, respectively.

• Households making $100,000+ in annual income accounted for 44% of desktop spending on Cyber Monday.

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Online retail card fraud drops during Black Friday weekend

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Online retailers — and consumers — have something new to be thankful for this holiday season: a decrease in online fraud.

For the first time in recent years, credit card fraud — which remains the highest fraud type for online retailers — has dropped to 42% of total fraud during the holiday weekend (Nov. 24 – 27, 2017). This level was 59% of total fraud for the same period in 2016, according to data from device intelligence for authentication and fraud prevention provider Iovation.

Overall, this decrease demonstrates that online retailers are making strides in their ability to identify and prevent card-not-present (CNP) fraud which has been on the rise since brick-and-mortar retailers have increased their adoption of EMV card technologies, the study reported.

Consumers are doing more of their holiday shopping online in general, a practice that has contributed to a decline in transactions occurring solely on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This is the result of a shift in sales strategies among online retailers that are now extending promotional deals beyond the holiday shopping weekend.

According to data, 62% of consumer’s online retail transactions from Black Friday to Cyber Monday originated from mobile phones/tablets, compared to 55% last year, confirming the trend that m-commerce during the holidays is increasing year-over-year.

“Online retailers who leverage device intelligence are making significant inroads when it comes to proactively preventing card-not-present fraud,” said Greg Pierson, CEO and co-founder for iovation. “This type of fraud not only cuts into their bottom line results, it can cause irreparable harm to their brand so this is a meaningful improvement.”

In a separate survey of more than 1,000 consumers across four generations, 83% percent of respondents seem to understand how to protect themselves online. They are using a credit card rather than a debit card for online purchases, monitoring credit scores regularly and shopping at well-known retailers. Yet, consumers across all demographic groups continue to exercise poor password hygiene.

While currently serving as consumers’ primary means of authentication, passwords frequently fail when it comes to both user experience and security. Despite these shortcomings, vulnerable passwords are firmly ensconced in today’s online experience.

Of those surveyed, 60% of consumers said they are not changing their passwords regularly (less than every six-to-12 months). Worse, close to 70% use the same password across multiple sites, meaning that a hacker can easily take over multiple consumer accounts with just a single compromised credential, the study said.

A shift from static, password-based authentication to frictionless, multi-factor authentication is crucial to combat today’s escalating threat environment. Multi-factor authentication combines the best of user experience and heightened security for businesses.

Using context to determine how trustworthy the user is ensures the appropriate level of authentication is required. Thus, dynamic authentication makes the right things easy and the wrong things more difficult, providing additional or less layers of authentication when needed, the study said.

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Online retailer jumps into conversational commerce—just in time for the holidays

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

eBay’s new service is making it easier for holiday shoppers to search for merchandise and deals.

Through a new partnership with Google, eBay now lets customers use Google Assistant to shop on its marketplace. Called the eBay Shopping Assistant, the tool enables customers to use their Google Home devices to shop and place orders.

Here’s how it works: Customers initiate their shopping trip by saying, “Ask eBay…”. From here, shoppers can explore available merchandise, ask about deals, as well as find out the value of personal items they may want to sell on eBay, according to eBay’s blog.

The shopping assistant pairs natural language with artificial intelligence (AI). When paired with the science of understanding language, deep learning and predictive modeling, “we can begin to harness the power of human intent, enabling us to create a radically better and more personalized shopping experience for everyone,” Jay Vasudevan, lead product manager, eBay, said in the blog.

As customers continue to use — and share more information about their preferences — with the eBay Shopping Assistant, their experiences will become more tailored.

“Using AI, we are able to create a truly personalized shopping experience inspired by the service you’d expect in a traditional retail setting,” Vasudevan said in the blog.

“By combining eBay’s breadth of inventory and unique selection, the eBay Shopping Assistant can create a shopping experience for virtually everyone,” he added. “This is the inspiration behind some of the exciting work we are doing at the intersection of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and a new commerce service that’s available wherever shoppers are.”

While eBay is just dipping its toe in the conversational commerce waters, the retailer is already evaluating how to expand the service. For example, eBay is already taking advantage of the device’s multi-surface switching capability, an option that lets users carry a voice conversation on Google Home over to their smartphone, seamlessly.

The e-retailer is among the first companies to take advantage of the multi-surface switching capability, according to the blog.

The shopping assistant is only one AI program that eBay is introducing this holiday season. The online marketplace also launched a new website that organizes and curates merchandise by category.

The service, called “Grouped Listings,” condenses listings by product, not seller. It also tags items through a combination of technology and human input, a move that enables the company to categorize items by theme, as well as similarity.

The AI-based site will also help eBay more accurately monitor what shoppers are buying, instead of directly asking them for their preferences.

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