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How retailers should be incorporating SMS for the holidays

October 25, 2011

Gilt Groupe lets consumers share products via SMS

Retailers should be incorporating SMS into the their mobile commerce sites this holiday season to let consumers share, sign up for mobile loyalty programs and to remind users of abandoned shopping carts, according to industry experts.

The personal nature of SMS, makes it a great recommendation tool. Consumers trust their friends and family, and will likely open a text message with product information from a loved one.

“SMS is inherently viral because it’s inherently unobtrusive,” said Tim Miller, president of Sumotext, Little Rock, AR. “Whether you are eating, working, or spending time with family, a brief, 160-character text message is not going to be an interruption.”

SMS for sharing
Brands such as Gilt Groupe, Amazon, Best Buy and Target are encouraging their existing and potential customers to share via an SMS feature within their commerce-enabled mobile sites.

For example, consumers shopping Gilt’s mobile site, for example, can tap to recommend a product and then get an option to share via Facebook, Twitter, SMS or email.

SMS is an important option to include, since consumers are more likely to trust someone they know.

According to the Nielsen Co. 90 percent of consumers surveyed trust recommendations from people they know, while 70 percent trusted consumer opinions posted online.

“Though SMS via short codes is much better suited to activating offline ads and connecting offline shoppers to online content and ecommerce, it can be a great way to share content,” Mr. Miller said.

According to a recent report by Pew Internet, 73 percent of adults with mobile devices use SMS on their phone at least occasionally.

Text message users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day, with the user sending or receiving 10 texts daily.

Abandoned carts
Sharing is not the only use-case for SMS this holiday season.

According to Wilson Kerr, director of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston, SMS can be tapped to allow consumers to share the pre- and post-purchase links to a product in a mobile commerce site.

“SMS can also be used, via short codes, to drive traffic for a mcommerce site, since the link can be texted back to the consumer, by the retailer,” Mr. Kerr said.

“Additionally, SMS can be used to sign up customers to loyalty programs or allow them to opt-in for announcements of new arrivals, etcetera,” he said. “If a shopping cart is abandoned, SMS can be used to ping the customer who did not complete their transaction, to remind them that their cart is full and they forgot to check out.”

Sumotext’s Mr. Miller said that the mobile ID has become the new social security number for many transaction-oriented marketers.

It is much more reliable, memorable and long lasting than IP addresses, email addresses or user names, he said.

“I think we’ll also begin seeing a lot of ecommerce sites begin using mobile phone numbers as unique account numbers,” Mr. Miller said.

“For sites that really care about security, we also will begin seeing SMS used for two-factor authentication where the first factor is something you know, like your login ID or password, and the second factor will be something you have, like a mobile phone,” he said.

“In this scenario, systems will text the user the second factor, which is usually only valid for a few minutes.”

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Giselle Tsirulnik is senior editor at Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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2 Responses to “How retailers should be incorporating SMS for the holidays”

  1. Brandon McGee Says:

    Dell has a great example of how to integrate SMS into a mobile marketing campaign. Simply text “OFFER” to 335548 to receive a link to download the Dell Mobile app and receive a coupon for a discount on your purchase. Available for both Android and iPhone.

  2. Lindsey Wright Says:

    that company they are quoting has a good user interface. I think it is one of the most powerful and easiest to use. As a marketing professional, I need something dependable and quick to use that I can access when I am traveling to make changes to my campaigns. SMS marketing. We likey.

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