The retail industry has changed significantly over the last decade. Customers no longer need to walk down the street and go into the one of two shops available to them and ultimately purchase based on brand loyalty and price alone.
With the rapid speed that technology has changed, so has the retail industry, consumers have easy access to hundreds, even thousands, of online companies and brands all fighting for their business. It is increasingly easy to buy second hand with the likes of Gumtree, Ebay and Amazon; re-sellers are also popping up everywhere. Consumers can easily search the web, whilst in your store, to find out if they can get a better deal elsewhere.
As a high street brand, or even an online brand, how can you influence people to buy from you, to stand out amongst your competition in this fierce competitive environment? Email marketing, social media and increasing your presence on Google are the usual ways to go, but there is another way; a channel that is highly underutilised and one that your competitors are perhaps not yet using.
Many people think that the SMS is dead, and that it is an old technology. But it is the only form of messaging on the mobile phone that is ubiquitous; all mobile phones can receive them.
A few other facts that really stand out are:
“98% of text messages are opened, compared to just 22% of emails.” – Frost & Sullivan
“On average, it take 90 seconds to get a response from SMS compared to 90 minutes for an email” – CITA
“91% of adults have their mobile phone within arm’s reach, 24/7” – Nielsen
“79% of smartphone users use their phones to help with shopping and 74% make a purchase as a result.” – Google/Ipsos
SMS can be deployed in a number of different ways within the retail sector:
1. Promotional SMS
Mobile marketing was built for SMS. As previously mentioned, SMS is the only ubiquitous channel for mobile and therefore is the only way you can be sure everyone you send the message to will be able to read the message. SMS is also read, and read soon after being received, therefore you can likely time the send of your SMS to be in front of your customers at the ideal time, for example on a Saturday morning whilst they may be out shopping.
The SMS can be used to promote new lines, a sale, a new store, a new website or any number of promotional ideas. You can add links to website in and therefore increase mobile traffic.
2. Lead generation
Using a Virtual Mobile Number (VMN) you can incentivise interaction between yourself and a customer, and collect data at the same time. If you’re in the business where collection, fittings or training is required by appointment, this can be used to send an appointment reminder, such as ‘Reply YES to confirm your appointment’. This helps to reduce no-shows and also improves your brand loyalty.
You could also use VMNs to host competitions, a great way to increase awareness and collect more data for future promotions.
3. Order confirmations
If you sell products online, or offline, a nice way to inform your customers that their order has been received is through SMS. Sometimes emails are lost in spam folders, deleted or ignored. SMS on the other hand adds a nice personal touch and is very unlikely to be ignored.
Further to this, if there is a problem with an order, an SMS can be sent and will have a much quicker response, so the order can be sorted out before any problems arise.
4. Delivery updates
Informing a customer that their order is on the way, or giving them a time it will arrive, will mean that the customer can make sure they are at home when the delivery is expected. This ensures they get their purchase as soon as possible.
On the flip side, having the delivery succeed first time means that there is a reduction in the delivery cost, as there is no need for a repeated delivery.
5. Increase online traffic
Using SMS is a great way to increase the traffic your website is receiving. By including a URL in your SMS, it gives customers a chance to click through and take up the offer there and then. You can also follow this guide to track and measure the success of using URLs in SMS messages.
6. Many more options
There are so many other ways to use SMS to increase sales, improve customer service, and reduce operating costs. Some other uses include appointment reminders, cart abandonment incentives, satisfaction surveys, payment reminders, logistics organisation, system alerts and more.