Text Appeal: SMS Helps Retailers Connect During Pandemic

SMS message

The digital shift will include mobile commerce. As retailers, especially those marked non-essential, move to digital commerce platforms they’re also finding new ways to stay in touch with customers during the pandemic. One of them is through SMS messaging.

According to eCommerce automation and analytics platform Yotpo, more than 65 percent of online shoppers are browsing or buying from their mobile devices. Its most recent consumer research predicts that over half (54 percent) of total eCommerce sales will be mobile by 2021, and currently over 81 percent of all traffic to Shopify stores comes from a mobile device.

“Our COVID-19 consumer trends survey highlighted a watershed moment in retail as eCommerce holdouts like food, beverage, grocery, and home categories are being sought online by shoppers in lieu of brick-and-mortar locations, which remain closed or currently have limited inventories,” says Yotpo CEO Tomer Tagrin. “Our data also showed that shoppers are seeking new brands and ‘in-stock’ products when Amazon is out of stock or cannot fulfill the needs of consumers.”

Yotpo specializes in bringing consumer outreach, reviews and analytics to direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands. As a result of the pandemic crisis it is urging its retail accounts to stay in touch with their customers via mobile, most specifically through SMS (short message service). It has accelerated its SMS solution by waiving fees on its SMSBump package for small to medium-sized retailers  as well as heavily discounting the fees on other packages for existing customers and for all new Yotpo customers.

The company is pushing SMS as an alternative to email. Its clients report 25X ROI and drives six to eight times higher engagement rates than email. Its solution helps marketers first to generate subscribers, then segment them and then build customized conversations with them. One of its clients, women’s personal care D2C brand Love Wellness, is using SMSBump to can communicate directly with shoppers via SMS to encourage them to leave reviews, reward them with discounts, and communicate special offers.

Another one of its brands, this one in the beachwear category, was struggling with a high shopping cart abandonment rate. The brand adopted multi-step SMS campaigns that send messages 15 minutes post-purchase and again after 24 hours. Fifteen minutes after the user abandons the cart, the automated platform sends a series of three messages reminding the shopper about their forgotten items. The messages are then customized to include discounts and incentives, based on customer segmentation. The brand found that first-time shoppers react to higher discounts than repeat purchasers. With that knowledge the brand created targeted incentives and engagements.

“Right now, brands need to focus on creating content that provides real value to consumers,” says Tagrin. “Open channels of communication that makes your brand and team more accessible, like Slack channels, Instagram Live, and SMS marketing, it’s now more important than ever to deepen your relationship with your community. Leverage the power of UGC and consumer feedback to build trust in these times; having a steady stream of new and authentic reviews will be especially critical to shoppers. Invest in marketing channels that engage your customers on their preferred channels. To truly connect with customers during this time, brands need to create personalized mobile experiences that drive engagement and nurture lasting relationships.”

The SMS campaigns also encourage interaction through user generated content and produce valuable data. And during the pandemic other companies have introduced SMS solutions to help retailers stay in touch with employees. Vibes, a Yotpo competitor, has created a new solution called Vibes Notify — a free messaging solution that layers on top of existing communication channels like email to capitalize on SMS. Vibes Notify lets companies internally distribute SMS alerts and call-to-actions to team members quickly, to help communicate details such as store closings or re-openings by location, and can be used for any time-sensitive company-wide communications.



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