Give your customers the gift of SMS this holiday season

OpenMarket – December 20, 2017

The holiday season can be stressful for shoppers and frantic for retailers. Here are five ways you can spread some festive cheer with SMS.

The holiday season: full of happiness, joy, and for everyone at the work Christmas party, (lots of) cheer.

For retail brands, it’s also the annual opportunity to sell big (retail sales in the US are predicted to be 2.1% higher than last year) and soften the blow of those January blues.

But here’s the problem: your customers are super-busy during December, and not in the mood to spend longer than is absolutely necessary shopping for gifts. In the UK, busy stores are even putting customers off.

Five ways to make Christmas a little merrier with SMS

If you want to help your customers have a merry Christmas, here’s a handy hint: use SMS to make their shopping experience stress-free. By sending relevant, helpful messages, exactly when it counts (what we call an “Empathetic Interaction”), you can turn their bleak mid-winter into a time of comfort and joy.

Here are five ways SMS can help you deliver thoughtful, timely interactions to your customers over the festive period.

1 – Entice them in with last-minute offers

Take a moment to think about your customers during the holiday period. They’re not shopping for themselves, but will likely already have a rough idea of what to get. And they crave inspiration. So, what better than a flash sale to entice them to your products?

The question is, how do you get through to them? Your competitors are using email, and it’s either hitting spam filters or getting deleted without being read. And direct mail is no help if your customer is out and about looking for last-minute gifts.

SMS is the best way to catch people at exactly the right moment, direct to their mobile phone where they’ll see it straight away. After all, 98% of texts are read (and 90% within three minutes).

2 – Give the gift of real-time delivery updates

Picture Holly’s situation. After much online searching, she’s finally found the ideal gift for her Secret Santa at work. She’s ordered it – but will it turn up in time for the Christmas party?

The retailer’s given her an estimated delivery date. But with only a couple of days to go, Holly’s desperate to know she’ll have something to present to her colleague.

Imagine her relief when she receives a text confirming her delivery is on its way. It even says: “Your parcel will be with you between 9-10am on the 20th”. Phew – crisis averted!

(Incidentally, that’s how one Fortune 100 retailer delights customers every day of the year. Read our case study to see how real-time shipping alerts keep customers loyal – and saves a fortune in returns costs, too.)

3 – Ping time-sensitive alerts to tense last-minute shoppers

Now give a thought to Noel. He’s had a busy December at work, and he’s left buying a present for his wife to the very last minute. He knows the name of the book she’s wanted for months. But this close to the big day, it’s sold out everywhere he looks.

What’s Noel to do? He *could* call every store every day to see if they’ve had a fresh delivery, or he could make repeated frantic visits to the high street. But that’s not the recipe for a peaceful run-up to Christmas.

Luckily for him, there’s SMS shopping notifications. With a simple text message, the bookshop can let Noel know the item is back in stock, and ask if he’d like one put aside to pick up later. One quick SMS reply later, and Noel can relax and enjoy his mince pie.

4 – Build your opt-ins for a happy and prosperous new year

In January, you can check your list…you can even check it twice, but you might still be disappointed at the lack of new subscribers to your marketing communications.

It’s a shame, because the holiday season is a significant opportunity to collect customer opt-ins and grow a healthy database ready for the New Year lull.

But wait! SMS is a great way to collect opt-ins in return for real-time offers by text. Better still, your customer doesn’t even need to click on anything to opt in – all they have to do is reply.

5 – Avoid the post-Christmas returns woes

As any retailer knows, the time between Christmas and New Year is notorious for returns. Whether it’s a straightforward exchange, or the unwanted gift from Auntie Mabel, it can be a nightmare to deal with.

And if customers start ringing your call center in droves on the 26th, you’ll have a perfect storm on your hands. It begs the question, why do your customers need to call at all?

Well, if you’re using SMS, they don’t. A simple message to let them know you’re processing their return means they can happily carry on with the leftover Stilton, safe in the knowledge their unwanted gift is being dealt with.

Holidays are coming – SMS is the real thing

That time of year is almost upon us. So make it a merry one for your customers, and spare them the stress of heaving high streets and delayed deliveries.

Give the gift of SMS – your customers will truly thank you for thinking of them. And with the resulting cost savings and increased revenue, you’ll be walking in a winter wonderland, too.

For more inspiration, read our SMS alerts case study to see how two organizations mastered SMS notifications. And if you want to talk through your options, give us a call. We’re here all year round.

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