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Why SMS is critical in the shift to online retail

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Since the turn of the century, online channels have accounted for over three-quarters of retail sales growth. Nowadays, consumers are doing everything online; from researching, browsing, ordering and completing transactions, putting increased pressure on brick and mortar shops to compete for sales.

Retailers have been forced to adapt to this new reality or risk losing out to a multitude of digital-savvy competitors. As a result, more and more businesses are entering the world of e-commerce. It’s not simply enough to create an online store though. There is also a need for retailers to change the way they are marketing to consumers, whose buying behaviour and habits have also inevitably changed with the shift to online.

Changing behaviours

In recent years, there has been a profound uptake in the number of people shopping online via mobile.In fact, according to Bright Vessel, approximately 53 percent of online shoppers now prefer to use smartphones for searches.Meanwhile, mobile and tablet internet usage now exceeds desktop use and accounts for over 51% of internet usage worldwide.

Consumer behaviour is changing, and in today’s retail environment it’s critical for marketers and businesses to meet shoppers where they are spending their time – on their mobile phones. And what’s central to mobile? The answer is SMS.

Marketing and bulk SMSSMS technology

SMS provides a direct channel for businesses to reach their customers, anytime, anwhere. Today, savvy online retailers are taking note of consumer preferences towards mobile and using SMS technology such as bulk SMS to share news, gain valuable customer insights, build loyalty, enhance customer experience and increase conversion rates. 

Below is a list of some of the ways retailers are doing this:

Marketing and bulk SMS

SMS is a direct, effective and affordable way of addressing your target audience where they are spending much of their time and, more importantly, doing much of their shopping – on their mobile phone. The marketing channel has high deliverability and unparalleled open rates, with an overwhelming 98% of all text messages opened and an astounding 95% being read within the first three minutes of being received.

Bulk SMS campaigns can be effectively used to promote new products, share exclusive offers, advertise sales and build brand awareness.

Feedback and Reviews

Having a positive online footprint is critical in today’s digital world – consumers have a myriad of choice and often compare products online based on reviews. SMS is a great resource for obtaining feedback and encouraging customers to share positive experiences online. Using SMS, retailers can send out SMS messages asking customers to rate their experience after a purchase.

This gives retailers an opportunity to then encourage customers who had a positive experience to leave a review by following a link to a review page. It also allows businesses to address any concerns from customers who had a negative experience, reducing the chances of the former venting any frustrations in the public online space.

SMS Loyalty programs

A well-designed SMS loyalty program can help enhance customer retention, drive sales and as a result, boost growth. According to the Centre for Retail Management at Northwestern University, only 12% - 15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer. But that small number of shoppers is accountable for between 55% - 70% of retail sales.

Given that such a large portion of a retailer sales comes from a small percentage of customers, it’s critical for retailers to nurture these significant relationships. Some of the incentives that can be used might include advanced access to new products, store credit, additional discounts, free merchandise or any other benefit that would entice the loyalty of a customer.SMS loyalty programs

According to Emarketer study, almost half of internet users prefer receiving loyalty program offerings through text messages. In fact, more than twice as many people prefer SMS over the next largest category, email.

SMS also provides an easy way for customers to redeem coupons. Customers can receive mobile coupon codes or links, which they can use when making purchases online.

Even though implementing a loyalty program may require additional resources, a considered and well-designed SMS loyalty program has the potential to be a business’s most valuable marketing initiative. 

Order confirmations, shipment and delivery updates

SMS is an ideal channel for delivering real-time confirmations. Customers like to feel assured after an online purchase and SMS can be used to enhance customer experience even after a transaction has taken place.

Conclusion:

In an ever-shifting retail landscape, it’s vital for businesses to stay agile and aware of changing consumer behaviour and patterns. Undoubtedly, the most profound change in recent years has been the shift to online and the rise of mobile. As a critical part of any mobile strategy, SMS can play an important role in helping online retailers build brand awareness, improve customer loyalty, enhance customer experience and ultimately drive sales.

For more information about using SMS for online retail, head to www.smsglobal.com or call 1300 883 400 to chat to one of our SMS specialists. 

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