Blog



22 October 2018

How to choose a business messaging provider for retail

With so many competitors vying for your customers’ business, you need a business messaging provider that’s built for – and understands – the specific requirements of the retail industry.

Are you relying on traditional communication channels to market promotions and nurture loyalty? Businesses today have to find new ways to cut through the clutter of today’s multi-channel world. We understand that with so many providers to choose from it can be difficult determining which provider is right for your business.

To help, we have compiled a list of what to look for in a business messaging provider, and how to find one who truly understands and builds their products and services for retailers.

Simple set-up

Whether you integrate via an application programming interface (API) to send messages from your existing business software, customer relationship management (CRM) software, or set up an account for an online web SMS portal, it should be straightforward with either support, documentation, or both, guiding you through to sending your first message.

Every message counts

Your customer data erodes at a rate of 22 percent every year, but some SMS providers have the tools to help you keep your database up-to-date and accurate. For example, through a MessageMedia HLR lookup, you can identify and isolate the invalid, incorrect and out-of-range numbers.

Apply a safety net

So much work goes into building a database that frustrating your customers with an ill-timed SMS can have detrimental consequences. At MessageMedia we can apply a social sending window to block out-of-hours messages. We can also recognise and stop your duplicate messages. This may not seem important, but we often catch duplicate messages that slip through the net due to a staff communication error, or even a system error. Your customers want to know about your new products or events, but only once and not at 2:00 am!

Don’t get bill shock

Special symbols and formatted content pasted from a word processing document may contain hidden characters that can either push your message beyond 160 characters or scramble parts of your message when delivered to your customers. MessageMedia’s character converter will detect and replace any hidden characters so you never have to worry about scrambled messages or high bills at the end of the month for sending multiple messages.

Build trust through familiarity

Accessing a number from a pool of shared numbers is cheaper, but your messaging can easily become disjointed as messages are sent from a different number every time, and this number is not exclusive to your business. Enable MessageMedia’s familiar sender to build trust through a single message from a recognised source so your customers don’t receive messages from you from different numbers.

Purchasing a dedicated number or an alpha tag can take engagement to the next level and build recognition and trust through a single, recognisable touchpoint. Each time your customer receives a message from you, it will come from the same number that no one else can use. Customers will immediately know it’s from your retail business, see message history and associate it with your brand rather than an unknown sender (and therefore potentially spam).

Bulk sending capabilities

It may seem obvious but always ask your provider how many messages their SMS gateway can process in a minute. There could be thousands of other businesses sending their messages at the same time as yours which can, for some providers, create a backlog in the provider’s SMS gateway if they don’t have the technology to scale. This will have dire consequences if you are sending a message about a time-critical promotion or sale. Your message must arrive at the right time to maximise the opportunity.

As a retailer, there’s nothing worse than your bulk send getting caught in a bottleneck because your SMS provider can’t scale. At MessageMedia with our bulk SMS, we process over thousands of messages a second and you can upload a million messages at once!

Future readiness

The potential of Rich Communication Services (RCS), the next evolution of SMS, which will be huge for the retail industry. RCS enhances traditional SMS, bringing a superior, app-like customer experience. Customers will be able to see products on a revolving carousel, view high quality images or videos of your products, and communicate with you using suggested replies and buttons that steer the conversation towards a desired outcome, such as more sales, better engagement or to provide more information.

Make sure your provider is preparing for the revolution that will be RCS.

Conclusion

By following this guide, doing your research and asking your business messaging partner the right questions, you will be engaging and delighting your customers through SMS in no time.

Already using SMS in retail? Read our guide to business messaging best practice specifically for retailers here!

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