Tim Bichara

Shopping and Texting

There’s a lot of information in the media in the moment about the use of mobile to drive retail sales in store. Just the other day we heard that 50% of internet access is now done through portable devices. Understandably, retailers are hot on the heels, identifying ways that mobile can drive revenue within a sector that is feeling the pinch of the slowdown.

But how best to leverage the benefits of this relatively new channel? Perhaps the most obvious way to integrate mobile into the retail process is to provide additional product information accessible through mobile devices. This could be done in a straightforward way via a website, or as something more fancy (ie a QR code). The question remains however, once the novelty has worn off, are consumers really that fussed? Do you really need to find out what factory in China has made your Nike trainers before you part with your hard earned cash for them. There is some mileage in the approach for specialised purchases for sure, but for FMCG we don’t believe that straightforward product information is particularly engaging.

Perhaps a more interesting option is to use mobile to further the existing brands CRM strategy. Some retailers have had a lot of success using mobile to increase sign up to their newsletters – driving brand engagement as a result. This is primarily being done using SMS campaigns – a very established technology. One interesting study is the Sunderland Empire Theatre (detailed on the e-consultancy) website. A direct mail campaign, initiated by the theatre and their advertising agency went to nearly 150 000 addresses in the Sunderland area.

The mailer invited recipients to text EMPIRE and their postcode to 60777 to see if they were a winner. The prizes included free tickets to shows at the theatre, discounts on ticket prices and free refreshments or ice cream.

The response to the SMS campaign, which ran over 6 weeks, was very impressive with 33,500 text sent from 23,000 unique users. The provided a response rate of over 15%.

Of course, one of the advantages of an SMS campaign over a smartphone campaign is that you are able to hit a wider section of customers – very important for brands with a less affluent following.

The fancy stuff is nice, but there’s no shame in keeping it old school.


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