Ever since the American-born Black Friday craze hit the UK (and the world) in 2014, retailers struggled to plan for the holiday season. In 2014 it was completely crazy in-store and online. In 2015, high street saw a decline in footfall over the weekend by as much as 4.5%. But online sales boomed.
According to TechRadar, retailers have learned some lessons. Many plan to offer sales during the whole month of November to avoid crowds and website crashes on Black Friday. But how will they bring more people into their stores when price shopping and searching online for the best deals is so easy?
Enter SMS Messaging
We’re just about six weeks before the November sales season begins. Your sales and marketing planning are probably well underway. But if you don’t have SMS marketing in your to-do list you might want to pause and consider it.
Looking at the retail predictions for 2016, there are a few big ones that can help shift the trend towards more footfall this year than last. Here are the biggest predictions and how you can use SMS marketing to stay relevant to your customers:
Click-and-Collect via Mobile
Many retailers already provide a service to have online orders picked up in-store. The prediction for this year is that more people will be doing the ordering from a mobile phone. To deliver the best service, send the customer an SMS update when their order is ready for pickup.
Also, any offers you send via SMS should go directly to a mobile-friendly site that offers click-and collect. It’s more convenient for customers, which means they’ll be more likely to buy from you, and come to your store to collect.
Loyalty Rewards Aren't Enough
Continuing on the theme from the click-and-collect, consumers are putting less emphasis on loyalty rewards. They “prioritise value, track record and convenience” according to vendhq.com. SMS messaging can communicate all three of those to a customer. You make your SMS marketing messages convenient by using links to mobile websites, or easy to show coupons for in-store purchases. If you are consistent in your messages, you’ll have a great track record – right on their mobile. When they look at the latest message, they’ll see all the old ones (does anyone delete old messages?).
It’s important to offer value too – not just for their money but their time as well. So if you want them to visit you in-store, make it worth their while. That doesn’t necessarily mean deep discounts, but perhaps there’s a special event they can only experience in the store. Maybe you offer a bonus item – whatever your customers will value – that they are willing to trade their time to come inside and get. SMS messages are great for these offers because they are so quick. You can announce ahead of time, then send reminders just at the right time when you want them to come to the store.
Make it Personal
One of the most consistent predictions is that shoppers want “Personal Commerce”. SMS messaging can be extremely personal. With a little effort you can send specific offers to different customers. It doesn’t even have to be individual. Simply dividing your list up by demographic or purchasing behaviour can make the offers more relevant which will feel personal. Did a customer spend hundreds on toys last year? Chances are she or he has children in their life. Let them know when the latest toys arrive via SMS so they get a chance to get them before anyone else.
That approach can work for any type of retailer. Use as much information as you have on the customer to create an SMS offer or campaign. The more specific you can be the better, but use what you have and you’ll probably see an upswing in sales.
TechRadar predicts holiday sales in the UK will be £2.2B over the four-day weekend including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Shoppers expect stores to be bustling, and may opt to order online. Don’t let them. Use SMS messaging as described above to get them into your store that weekend, and all season long.