Staying Relevant in What Could Be the Weirdest Black Friday Ever
As the sun starts to rise, crowds gather outside shops, and more people arrive as opening time draws near. The store clerk makes her way to the front door to let everyone in, and the chaos begins. Without a care in the world, shoppers push through the narrow opening, shopping carts in hand, as they move at pace through the store looking for a bargain. Yes, it’s Black Friday.
While we’re accustomed to these scenes making headlines around the globe each year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and the way we shop, which means 2020 could mark the weirdest Black Friday ever.
While many shops have reopened since lockdown measures were lifted, social distancing and store opening restriction measures could keep shoppers away from brick-and-mortar stores this holiday shopping season.
When people were forced to stay home and shops closed their doors, retailers had to fast track their technology advancement to stay relevant. But as more stores open and shoppers line the aisles, this isn't a time for retailers to resort back to their old ways.
This holiday shopping season there will be a tyrant of advertising as retailers try to get their sales in front of potential customers. Smart retailers will utilize methods that engage customers, breaking through the marketing noise. Although the clock is ticking, at Soprano, we believe it's not too late to invest in communication technology to make sure your brand gets noticed.
Shoppers don’t want to sort through large amounts of advertising before they find a product that's relevant to them. Therefore, stores need to introduce a system that will send personalized information of products and sales to the right person.
As email inboxes get flooded, it's easy for messages to be overlooked, but the humble text message still gets noticed. SMS is leading the charge when it comes to communication tools. Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solutions remain at the forefront for retailers seeking to accelerate sales post-pandemic. Using an omnichannel mobile strategy differentiates from email and keeps customers engaged by sending personalized information to the right people at the right time via SMS.
Typically, 90 percent of text messages are opened within the first three minutes after being received. Due to the high success rate, SMS messages generate responses when delivering time-sensitive communication to inform or drive action.
Retail has been hammered by the global pandemic. Research and advisory firm Forrester has predicted the sector will see a $2.1 trillion loss around the globe in 2020, and that it will take four years for the sector to fully recover from this economic blow.
The dire situation retail is in means it can’t afford to experiment with unproven methods, and retailers don't have time to build a system themselves. Therefore, a trusted CPaaS solution is worth consideration.
Not only will direct communication with customers create a point of difference that drives up engagement, it creates a virtual experience that shoppers are missing from not being in a store.
Retailers shouldn't wait until the start of the holiday shopping season before they roll out this technology, because it can take a few weeks to get it up and running. Once a business seizes the opportunity, it needs to start using it as soon as possible — e.g., send coupons or sale details to customers. Not only will this ensure the system is working smoothly, but customers will be familiar with how it works so when you start to launch your big sales, shoppers will know what you're doing and can benefit from those great prices.
During lockdown, curbside pickup grew in popularity. People were lining up in their cars and collecting goods they purchased online with no human contact. Retailers can draw from lockdown lessons and carry those initiatives forward. Curbside pickup won't be going away as the contact-free economy continues to thrive and people remain vigilant about not catching the virus.
For effective curbside pickup, communication is even more virtual to ensure customers know what steps and processes to follow. What better place to have that information stored than on your phone, where you can easily find it and communicate directly with the retailer.
The possibilities text message CPaaS offers retailers is vast, and as they work through these challenging times, proven methods that connect and grow engagement with customers will contribute to their success. Emails are abundant and easy to overlook, flyers get put aside, but the humble text message is a proven way to get noticed.
Matt Thompson is vice president, global product and marketing at Soprano Design, a leading provider of mobile messaging technology for mobile network carriers and enterprise customers worldwide.
Related story: How to Use SMS for Customer Engagement Success During the Holiday Season
Matt joined Soprano in 2013 to create and lead Soprano’s global marketing efforts across all regions, including Asia, Australia, Europe, LATAM and the US. He is a member of Soprano’s senior leadership team and helps shape and execute Soprano’s product marketing strategy globally.
Matt is a results-driven marketing leader with 15 years of experience deeply involved in the mobile messaging industry, with roles in leading U.S. hardware, telecom and software firms. His global leadership roles spans across multiple functional areas, including senior leadership roles in marketing and product management. Matt’s broad range of subject matter expertise in the mobile communications industry includes cloud-based enterprise communications technology, device hardware and software, network-based wireless messaging, voice-over-IP services and global Internet of Things (IoT) network connectivity.
Prior to Soprano, Matt spent nearly 10 years as a B2B product management and product marketing professional with leading mobile industry firms, including Nuance Communications, Tegic, America Online and AT&T. Matt has also founded and ran two successful small businesses, and he holds an MBA from the Terry College of Business, University of Georgia and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Colorado. He lives and works in Seattle, Washington.