The Power of SMS in Retail: Boost Sales and Enagagement With Direct Communication

Team MessageFlow
15 min
May 29, 2024

With a lot of traditional business digitizing, staying connected with your customers in the retail industry is more important than ever. The rise of various communication channels has provided companies with countless ways to reach their audience. More often than not, a mobile phone remains close within reach of a customer, which makes it a perfect conveyor for all sorts of marketing and transactional messages. 

💡 This device proximity is a crucial aspect contributing to the fact that up to 90% of business SMS are read within 3 minutes from arrival. Even more impressive is that 99% of texts are opened within 20 minutes!

If you combine this with a throughput capability of millions of messages an hour you’ll get with a great SMS marketing platform, you end up with a highly efficient channel offering a direct, personal, and immediate way to engage with customers and bring them into the store. Regardless of whether you’re announcing a seasonal sale, selected items promo, certain product category discount, or gathering feedback, SMS slices through the noise and gets right in front of customers’ eyes. 

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • Why SMS is a key part of automated communication in retail.

  • How SMS improves customer experience and drives sales.

  • The vital role SMS plays in omnichannel communication. 

The unique advantages of SMS in retail

Exceptional reach and engagement

SMS is a particularly efficient communication channel due to its wide reach and high engagement. With near-universal mobile phone adoption, text messages are capable of connecting with almost any customer instantly (Seeing delivery issues? Here’s why your SMS may be delayed.). Their concise nature, along with the previously mentioned device proximity, leads to them being read within minutes, which makes the channel perfect for essential updates and time-sensitive offers. High open and engagement rates further boost its effectiveness, providing strong arguments for investing in texting campaigns. 

Versatility and flexibility

Retailers can use SMS to send a variety of messages, from promotional offers and alerts to customer surveys and reminders. This flexibility allows businesses to adjust their communication strategy to meet specific goals and customer needs.

💡 Text messages can be easily integrated with other business systems and platforms, allowing for a cohesive and efficient communication strategy. SMS has got you covered whenever you’re launching a new product, announcing a member-only offer, opening a new location, or starting a special occasion sale. 

Enhanced customer targeting

By tapping into customer data, retailers can send personalized messages that fit well with individual preferences and behaviors. The high level of targeting ensures that the right message reaches the right individual at the right time. A retailer can send a special discount to loyal customers or a promotional offer to those who haven’t made a purchase in a while. This targeted approach improves the effectiveness of campaigns and the overall customer experience.

Improving customer experience with SMS

Personalized promotions and discounts

Use SMS to inform customers about personalized promotions and discounts based on their purchase history and preferences. Individually tailored offers are a proven way to make clients feel valued and encourage repeat business.

➡️ Send exclusive discount codes for frequently purchased items to show a proper understanding of your audience’s buying habits.

retail sms personalized promotion

Loyalty program updates

SMS is an effective way to keep your customers informed about loyalty program points, rewards, and special member-only sales. Timely updates delivered via texts ensure people are always aware of their benefits and can take full advantage of them.

➡️ Notify customers when they are close to earning a reward or inform them about an upcoming promotion taking place over the weekend only.

retail sms loyalty program

Product restock alerts

Keeping customers updated about product availability is crucial for retail brands. SMS can be used to notify them when a popular or previously out-of-stock item is back on the shelves and available for purchase.

➡️ Send a text message when a highly demanded skincare product or a popular grocery item is restocked.

retail sms product restock

Event invitations and updates

Use SMS to invite customers to in-store events, product launches, or special promotions happening at your physical location to draw them in and boost both attendance and engagement.

➡️ Send invitations to members-only beauty product launches or exclusive tasting events at the store.

retail sms event

Driving sales through SMS marketing

Product launch announcements

When you’re introducing a new product, getting the word out quickly and at scale is crucial. SMS is an excellent channel for this kind of announcements because it makes sure your message is seen almost instantly. Retailers can build excitement and anticipation by sending teaser messages leading up to the launch date, followed by an announcement when the product is finally available. Studies have shown that SMS announcements can drive significant traffic to both online and brick-and-mortar stores, resulting in immediate sales boosts.

retail sms announcement

Exclusive VIP offers

Everyone loves feeling special, and SMS is a perfect way to make your loyal customers feel like VIPs. By sending exclusive offers and discounts via texts, retailers can create a sense of exclusivity and reward their most loyal customers. These offers can be time-sensitive to encourage prompt action, such as a discount valid for 24 hours. This strategy works to increase sales and strengthen customer loyalty, making those selected few feel appreciated and more likely to continue shopping with you.

retail sms vip

Time-limited offers

Creating a sense of urgency is a proven strategy, and limited-time offers delivered through SMS are the perfect channel for it. By informing customers of a time-sensitive discount you can prompt immediate action and boost conversion. A text message announcing a 50% off deal that lasts only over the weekend can motivate customers to make quick purchasing decisions. The immediacy of SMS ensures prompt reaction, maximizing their impact and driving short-term revenue boosts.

retail sms flash sale

Integrating SMS with other channels

Seamless omnichannel experience

Modern day retail landscape has customers expecting a seamless experience across multiple touchpoints. SMS can play a significant role in creating a cohesive omnichannel strategy. By integrating SMS with Email or Mobile Push notifications, retailers can ensure consistent communication and a unified customer journey

A customer might receive an Email about a promotion, followed by an SMS reminder, and see a related post on social media. This multi-channel approach keeps your brand top-of-mind and reinforces your message, increasing the likelihood of engagement and sales.

Data collection and customer insights

SMS campaigns can be a valuable source of customer data. By analyzing responses and engagement metrics, you can gain deep insights into peoples’ preferences and behaviors. This data can be used to refine marketing strategies across other channels. 

💡 If an SMS campaign reveals that a particular product is popular, this information can be used to send Mobile Push notifications or personalized Email offers reinforcing the message.

Integrating SMS with other channels also allows for more advanced tracking and analytics. Retailers can monitor interactions across different platforms, gaining a holistic view of the customer journey. This comprehensive data can help identify trends, measure campaign effectiveness, and optimize future marketing strategies. By leveraging the strengths of SMS in combination with other channels, you can create a robust, data-driven approach to customer engagement and sales growth.

Practical steps to launching a retail SMS campaign

Building a subscriber list

The foundation of any successful SMS campaign is a robust subscriber list. Start by encouraging customers to opt-in through various means like loyalty programs, during app installation, through website pop-ups, or social media posts. Offer incentives such as discounts or exclusive content to get your first sign-ups. 

Make the opt-in process clear and straightforward, emphasizing the benefits subscribers will enjoy. Remember to follow legal guidelines and best practices for consent, making sure customers understand they’re agreeing to receive SMS from you.

Crafting effective messages

Creating compelling SMS content is crucial for engaging your audience. In general, the shorter, the better. Keep your message clear and to the point. Every SMS should have a strong CTA that encourages recipients to take the desired action. 

Personalization makes your messages more relevant and engaging. Use customer names and tailor messages based on their previous interactions or preferences. Testing different message formats and CTAs can help identify what works best with your audience.

Measuring results 

To ensure continued effectiveness of your SMS campaigns, you need to track several key performance metrics. Focus on deliverability and link clicks in particular to assess how well your messages are performing. Use these insights to refine your approach, experimenting with different message timings, content, and frequency. 

Running tests and optimizing is key to maintaining and improving campaign performance. Additionally, gather feedback from your customers to understand their experience and adjust your strategy accordingly. 

Why SMS is such a powerful channel for retail

There are good reasons why SMS campaigns are so popular with many retailers. The industry is among the biggest globally, with pretty much everyone being a customer of some sort of a retail business. 

As a result, brands operating within it are looking to maximize the reach of their messaging and SMS is the perfect channel, allowing you to directly get to and engage anyone who has a mobile phone. Texts are simply efficient and powerful, period.

💡 For instance, recent SMS volumes we’ve seen some of our retail customers launch involve from 1+ mln to 4+ mln messages a month. Singular campaigns contributing to those numbers were in hundreds of thousands of texts.

That’s a huge reach no other channel can truly match, which is precisely why brands like the Portuguese Jeronimo Martins, Poland’s leading chain stores Polomarket and Stokrotka, as well the French Auchan all use SMS to engage their customers. Interestingly, certain countries like The Netherlands, Poland, France, and Italy show particularly high conversion rates in this channel, so you may want to adjust your international messaging campaigns accordingly.

Choosing your retail SMS marketing platform

Now, to harness the power of SMS, you’ll need a reliable platform that meets the complex requirements of a retail enterprise organization. MessageFlow stands ready to facilitate your text message campaigns and here are several strong reasons why you should consider it.

  1. Our platform has been battle-tested, as we’re already serving major retailers, successfully delivering their communication at scale.

  2. There are other channels available with the platform, so that you can combine SMS with Mobile Push or RCS, depending on whether you have a mobile app or would like to create a more interactive experience, to strengthen your message across multiple touchpoints. 

  3. You can securely shorten links using the built-in tool to save space, prevent phishing, and get the engagement levels up.

  4. You have advanced analytics available in the user panel, as well as a flexible API, allowing for close integration with the systems you’re already using and the collection of additional data. 

  5. There’s also the dynamic segmentator, which is a feature allowing you to further automate your communication efforts by creating scenarios in which specific messages are sent in response to specific user actions recorded in other channels.

Upload your contacts database and design your campaign in the panel in just a couple of clicks or integrate via API for a more holistic strategy. Talk to our communication experts about getting started with MessageFlow and learn more about all the benefits it offers.

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