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Online Sales rise on Black Friday, with Amazon offering Steepest Discounts among E-Commerce Sites

Online shopping continued to grow, with Adobe saying that Black Friday was on track to set a new record by surpassing the $3 billion mark for the first time

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Washington, Nov 26, 2016: US online sales surged on Black Friday, with Amazon.com Inc offering the steepest discounts among e-commerce sites as it set the agenda for what has traditionally been the biggest shopping day of the year for brick-and-mortar retailers.

Though in-store customer traffic picked up in the afternoon, it paled in comparison to the jump in online sales, NBC news cited analysts as saying.

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Macy’s Inc’s website crashed as it saw heavy traffic on Friday. It had to delay customers from entering the site at three different times.

Online sales on Friday hit $1.70 billion as of 3 p.m., according to Adobe Digital Index, after reaching $1.13 billion on Thursday, up almost 14 percent from a year ago.

The National Retail Federation expects total sales this holiday season to increase by 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion, mainly due to the rise in online shopping.

This weekend’s shopping could reflect signs of faster economic growth in the fourth quarter this year.

Administrative assistant Kelsey Gilford, 52, was shopping at Chicago’s Water Tower mall on Friday but had already made purchases online on Thursday.

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“I looked at some online deals on J.C. Penney which were good. I bought a small kitchen appliance yesterday (Thursday),” she said.

Amazon.com Inc offered a 42 percent off, compared with 33 per cent off at Walmart, 35 per cent at Target and 36 percent at Best Buy.

Amazon said Black Friday would surpass last year in terms of the number of items ordered on its website. The Seattle-based company declined to provide specifics.

Online shopping continued to grow, with Adobe saying that Black Friday was on track to set a new record by surpassing the $3 billion mark for the first time.

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It is also expected to become the first day in US retail history to drive over a billion dollars from mobile sales.

Mobile accounted for 40 per cent of sales, with 29 per cent from smartphones, and 11 per cent for tablets.

Combined with Thursday’s $1.93 in online sales on Thanksgiving, the two days are expected to close out at nearly $5 billion in sales.

Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director, Adobe Digital Insights, said: “We expect Cyber Monday to surpass Black Friday and become the largest online sales day in history with $3.36 Billion.”

Meanwhile, UK shoppers also rushed to buy Black Friday bargains, as retailers and payment firms reported strong sales.

Barclaycard said it had seen a record number of transactions on Friday, while Argos, John Lewis and Currys PC World reported a surge in orders, BBC reported.

In the UK, analysts expect sales on Friday to have topped last year’s 1.9 billion pound, with people hunting for discounts ahead of an expected rise in prices next year.

“The Black Friday promotions at the end of November are the start of a longer, more drawn-out peak season, which begins with most of the activity online and then moves in-store as we get closer and closer to Christmas day,” said Richard Jenkings, data analyst at credit reference agency Experian. (IANS)

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Amazon’s Alexa Can Now Learn Hindi And Other Indian Languages

Apart from Hindi, using "Cleo" customers can respond to Alexa's English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other Indian languages.

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Amazon,com. Flickr
Amazon,com. Flickr

Amazon on Tuesday launched a new category of Alexa skills that would enable customers in India help Alexa learn Hindi and other Indian languages.

Using the new “Cleo” skill, Amazon allows users to teach Alexa more about Indian languages and culture by interacting with the voice assistant.

“During each round, Alexa will ask you to say at least five things in your language. She may ask you to say something specific in the chosen language or to just say anything at all,” the company said in a statement.

Amazon Alexa. Flickr
Amazon Alexa. Flickr

The process of creating new languages for Alexa benefits data availability, computing power and machine learning, in which systems improve organically as they incorporate more data.

Cleo’s availability in India will help improve Alexa’s language model and help her to gradually speak in local languages, the company added.

Also Read: Amazon India, HackerEarth partner for Alexa Hackathon

These skills can be accessed on all Amazon Echo devices as well as the free Alexa app for smartphones.

Apart from Hindi, using “Cleo” customers can respond to Alexa’s English statements in Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bengali, Telugu, Gujarati and other Indian languages. (IANS)