Threats to modern retailers come in many forms. Whether it be from cyber attacks, competitors or natural disasters, retailers should consider what their communication strategy will look like should the worst-case scenario occur. How will you adapt to your new circumstances and reassure your customers? How will you organise your staff and protect your brand?
Adaptability is key, and as such there are two main criteria that need to be considered – speed and reach. This is where SMS comes into play as a powerful weapon for retailers in an emergency situation.
What are the benefits of using SMS for business continuity in retail?
- 95% of SMS will be opened by your customers (Esendex)
- 90% of your customers will read an SMS that you send them within 3 minutes (Techjury)
- 95% of UK retail consumers own a mobile phone (Statista)
- SMS can be received at any time or place
- No internet connection required
- Two-way chat communications can be deployed where required
- No spam folder. Messages arrive directly in your customer’s inbox.
What are the applications of SMS for business continuity in retail?
Emergency/service interruption notifications
Store closure notifications, revised opening hours, stock availability updates, changes to delivery times. These types of messages and more are perfect for SMS messaging which can be delivered directly to your customers’ pockets.
Message templates can also be used for large scale sends, with dynamic fields making it easy to personalise your message for every customer.
Comms with Staff
It can be difficult to communicate with staff in a fast and engaging way when some of them either work shifts, or are on the road as part of their work (E.g. delivery drivers).
SMS provides the ideal platform to retailers here by sending short, easy to understand messages which can be read at any time or place – and don’t get lost in inboxes. Given that on average we check our phones 58 times a day, there is no more effective way to get urgent messages about shifts opening, new mandatory practices etc. over to your team.
SMS can also be used to have two-way chats with your staff to arrange shifts and overtime.
2 way SMS for customer service
In an emergency, your customers may want to speak with you – on mass at times. This presents problems for customer service teams who maybe weren’t ready for the influx, and can only deal with one customer at a time over the phone.
2 way SMS – using a virtual mobile number – allows you to receive replies from your customers.
It’s convenient for the customer as they can engage with you at their convenience, and systems like these are also very easy for call centre operatives to manage. They will be able to conduct multiple conversations at the same time using message templates and canned responses, and even bot interactions for the simpler questions, meaning faster responses for customers.
One step further with SMS Web Pages
SMS Web Pages allow retailers to send visually richer communications to customers, which can also include interactive buttons for secondary actions.
This means that for business continuity purposes, SMS Landing Pages can be used as a base to manage your relationship with customers in the context of that emergency.
Nearest store location, checking an item’s stock level, querying revised opening times, access to customer services – it can all be accessed via an SMS Landing Page.
It’s also a great way to protect your brand; as I write, the retail sector is being badly bruised by the coronavirus, in response to which we’re seeing some really creative messages from retailers like IKEA about supporting customers who are unable to leave their home. They’re not directly selling anything in these messages, they are showing their support for their customers in the hope that they will retain their loyalty through the crisis and out the other side. Business continuity doesn’t often get tested as much as this, and we can all learn from the leading practitioners here.
How retailers can get started with SMS with business continuity
We’ve worked with a variety of different retailers to provide better ways of providing business continuity communications.