Stores Turn to Mobile Texts for Customer Contact

Retailers increasingly are using text-message alerts to keep their customers informed about sales and special events, while online retailers are using microblogging site Twitter to alert shoppers to deals.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Stores like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are using more text-message alerts to spread the news about sales. Online retailers like Buy.com Inc. are sending out daily messages on Twitter, a blogging site that uses short messages, to advertise the latest holiday specials. The Gap Inc., Target Corp., Sears Holdings Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. are pushing new mobile programs this year, too.

Retailers hope these efforts make it easier for customers to shop online, with their cellphones or even at brick-and-mortar stores. And while the prices touted digitally are basically the same as those offered in the store, retailers say customers can get news of sales earlier than with other methods, such as commercials or circulars.

This digital outreach comes as retailers worry about weak sales during what typically is their busiest time of year. Between Nov. 1 and Dec. 5, shoppers spent $14.92 billion online, essentially the same as last year, according to a report released Sunday by research firm comScore Inc. Still, on Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving, holiday shoppers spent $846 million, a 15% increase from last year, comScore’s report said.

Connecting with busy shoppers through their mobile phones “is even more important right now” for retailers, given the tough economic climate, says Brad Beasley, president of CrossLink Media, a mobile-marketing firm.

Most cellphones support the promotional text messages. But many advanced shopping and commerce features are built for specific smart phones, such as the Apple iPhone. Most programs, like text-message alerts, require consumers to sign up either through their phones or via the Web.

Wal-Mart is sending out more-frequent text-message alerts to its shoppers who signed up for the service, says Melissa O’Brien a spokeswoman for the company. Last year, Wal-Mart sent out three alerts to shoppers’ cellphones the entire holiday season. This year, the company is sending out weekly alerts that customers can tailor by category. Last week, Wal-Mart sent customers text messages detailing holiday specials on toys and home electronics. Shoppers can click on links within the text messages that will take them to Wal-Mart’s mobile Web site to find additional details and reviews of that item.

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One Comment on “Stores Turn to Mobile Texts for Customer Contact”

  1. scott kline Says:

    It is very clear that consumers are driven by promotions in the physical world to use the mobile device as a RESPONSE MECHANISM TO INTERACT WITH BRANDS!

    At Adheadz.com, we continue to see Mobile Response rates higher than 15% when Brands run radio, TV and traditional advertising with their Mobile Tag like “Text BMW to 51684 for More Information”.

    The increase of Mobile Tagging, where marketers add their brands’ Keyword and Short Code (like ‘BMW to 51684 for More Information”) onto their brochures, collateral and marketing outreach, is similar to the use of URL tagging which happened at the onset of the Internet.

    All the best – Scott


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