Build your brand with SMS for retail.

Sell more stuff by connecting with your customers in the moments that matter. Discover how retail SMS marketing is changing the game for retail stores.

This article has been written by Amanda Ranville Amanda Ranville wrote in industries February 8, 2024
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If you’ve got something to sell or simply something to say to your customers, then SMS (or short message service) is a smart way to get your message across.

With 95% of text messages sent within two seconds, no wonder retailers are jumping on board with SMS. Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide to SMS for retail.

What is SMS marketing for retail?

In a nutshell, SMS marketing for retail is the use of texting to get your marketing messages seen by consumers.

Given that virtually every consumer owns a phone and checks it hundreds of times a day, SMS is an invaluable addition to your overall marketing mix. And, with click-through rates of up to 36%, it’s a proven and cost-effective way to boost engagement.

With text message marketing for retail, you can personalise messages, add promo codes and calls-to-action, or even add enticing visuals with MMS (multimedia message service) and mobile landing pages.

Here’s why consumers and brands love SMS for retail.

We said it above, but we’ll say it again. People check their phones. All. The. Time. Like, once every three minutes. Your customers are hungry for messages and interactions, and you can deliver — with tasty offers and product teasers that entice them to shop with you.

It’s why leading retailers regularly use SMS as part of their marketing campaigns. With retail SMS marketing, you can:

Personalise to boost customer engagement.

With the easy ability to add custom fields — like, your customer’s name, a product name, or a location — you can deliver the personal touch with each and every SMS you send. By tailoring your messages to suit individual preferences, you’re more likely to engage.

Send compelling offers to increase sales.

To help bring in foot traffic to your retail store, SMS marketing can be used for targeted, time-sensitive campaigns. Create a sense of urgency by sending a hard-to-resist offer straight to your customers’ phones. It’s a great way to encourage customers to decide faster — and your bottom line will thank you.

Track the performance of every campaign.

Behind the scenes, reliable SMS analytics and tracking tools help you monitor the performance of your SMS campaigns. And, because it’s so cheap to send SMS, it’s an incredibly cost-effective way to test different tactics to see what works. Then, you can use the data-driven insights to optimise future campaigns.

Delight customers with helpful service.

Beyond selling, retailers use SMS to take customer service to new heights. Use it to keep customers in the loop about their purchases by providing real-time order updates and delivery notifications. It’s also a super-convenient channel for quickly answering customers’ queries about your products, and for capturing feedback.

Build brand loyalty.

Loyal customers are the best type of customers. They spend more money with you, and they recommend you to their friends. To build loyalty, retailers use SMS to send exclusive deals and discounts, as well as personalised birthday and anniversary treats.

Power up SMS for retail in five simple steps.

Now that you’re full bottle on the benefits of SMS for retail, let’s take a look at how to get started. To add texting to your retail marketing and communications strategy, follow these best practice steps.

1. Follow the rules and regulations.

Before you hit send on your first SMS, brush up on all the rules about text messaging and make sure you comply. New Zealand, make sure you:

  • Display clear calls-to-action 
  • Get consent in writing  
  • Send opt-in confirmation messages 
  • Acknowledge and honour opt-out requests 

If you don’t follow the rules, your messages could be flagged as spam, potentially leading to costly audits or suspension of your messaging campaigns.

Learn more about SMS compliance and best practice.

Note our rules are not complete – it’ll be up to you to know and abide by all content and consent rules.

2. Build and shape your subscriber list.

Building a database of customer phone numbers is a critical step in your retail SMS program. You need to capture your customers’ consent in writing. This could be as simple as adding a check-box or field to an existing form — like, your online checkout or a loyalty program form. Here are other ideas for building your subscriber list.

Just remember, you’ll need to provide easy ways to opt-out with every message you send.

As your list grows, think about how you can segment your customer base. In other words, group your customers based on things like their age, what they’ve bought before, or where they live. This helps you send more targeted messages to different groups, which in turn increases the likelihood they’ll buy from you.

3. Create irresistible SMS content.

With your list in hand, it’s time to start sending. First, wrap your head around the difference between SMS, mobile landing pages, and MMS — each one will likely play a role at different stages of your marketing journey.

Then, when crafting your SMS campaigns, keep these golden rules for text success in mind: 

  • Personalise with the customer’s name 
  • Provide a compelling offer or hook 
  • Add a crystal-clear call-to-action 

Need some inspiration? Scroll on down for examples of retail SMS marketing messages.

4. Save time with automation.

With the right SMS platform in place, it’s easy to set up automated workflows for key messages. Automation frees up your team’s time — and ensures that customers get texts in a timely and reliable way.

For example, you could trigger a welcome message with a ‘thanks for signing up’ discount code whenever a customer signs up to your loyalty program.

+36% repeat buys for a gourmet gift basket retailer.

Image for +36% repeat buys for a gourmet gift basket retailer.

5. Integrate SMS with your favourite tools.

Again, if you choose the right SMS platform, then you can integrate texting into the tools your team use every day.

For example, if you use a CRM to manage your loyalty program, or a tool like HubSpot for your marketing, then why not send SMS straight from these platforms? This way, there’s no need to switch between tools when sending out important messages to your customers.

Check out all of our integrations.

6. Keep a close eye on SMS performance.

Once you’ve set up your SMS solution for retail, keep an eye on the performance of different texts and campaigns. You can measure KPIs like open rates and click-through rates, as well as opt-outs, to see what’s working and what’s not. Use the insights to continually improve on your campaigns.

Take SMS for retail for a spin.

Image for Take SMS for retail for a spin.

Sure-fire ways to use SMS for retail campaigns.

There are countless ways you can use SMS as part of retail marketing and communications. From promotions to purchase confirmations, event invites to surveys, the sky’s the limit.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common use cases for SMS in retail. Remember, a lot of these messages can be automated through your SMS platform — saving you loads of time and effort.

A welcome message.

Send a message (or two) when a new customer signs up to your subscriber list or makes their first purchase. You could include a discount code or special treat as a way of saying thanks for signing up.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], here’s a treat for joining the [Brand] mailing list. Show this text to get [Discount] at the checkout. Reply STOP to opt out.

Promos, discounts, and deals.

Create a sense of urgency with a time-sensitive promotion, flash sale or exclusive offer. Personalise the text message to make your customer feel valued, and use MMS to add an enticing product image.

TEMPLATE: [Name], get [Discount] store-wide this weekend only. Find your nearest [Brand] location: [URL]. Ts & Cs apply. Reply STOP to opt out.

Event invites and reminders.

Use SMS to invite customers to store openings, product launches, or special sales events. Then, send a timely text reminder to make sure they show up.

TEMPLATE: Hey [Name], see you tomorrow night at 5pm at our [Location] store for the [Brand] [Event] launch. Reply STOP to opt out.

New arrivals.

Let your loyal customers be the first to know when new products drop. Send exclusive text messages to launch your latest range, and lure more people in-store.

TEMPLATE: Big news, [Name]. Our [Season] collection just landed. Ready for a fresh look? Get in to [Brand] before it sells out. Reply STOP to opt out.

Birthday treats.

Send a sweet SMS treat to customers on their birthdays. Who knows? They might have some birthday money to spend, and your text message might just entice them to spend it with you.

TEMPLATE: Happy birthday from [Brand], [Name]. Here’s a little birthday treat. Show this message at the register for $10 off your next purchase. STOP to opt out.

Product reviews.

Set up an automated SMS to request a product review a few weeks after the order’s been delivered. Personalise the message and include a direct link to the relevant product page to make it easy-as-pie for customers to respond.

TEMPLATE: Hi [Name], thanks for shopping at [Brand]. What do you think of your new [Product]? Please leave us a review: [URL] or reply STOP to opt out.

Customer support.

SMS is hands-down the most convenient channel for quick questions about your products or your brand. Set up two-way SMS for customer support, and watch the conversations flow.

EXAMPLE: We’ve got [PRODUCT] in stock. Would you like me to put one aside for you?

Ready to roll with an SMS solution for retail? Here’s how.

To see how easy and impactful SMS for retail can be, start your free trial today. With the right SMS solution for retail in place, you’ll be bringing in more foot traffic and driving more sales in no time. Get in touch to get started.

FAQs about SMS for retail.

It sure is, as long as you follow the rules and regulations. As we explained above, you have to get customers’ consent before you start sending text messages. And don’t forget to provide an easy way for them to opt out, too. Brush up on SMS compliance.
SMS marketing in retail is when you use text messages to help you achieve a specific marketing goal. For example, you could use SMS to boost customer engagement, promote new products or sales, offer customer support, or strengthen brand loyalty.
Absolutely. Personalisation is easy, and it’s a great way to increase customer engagement and boost conversions.

You can add custom fields like your customer’s name and their nearest store when you’re sending bulk SMS. Plus, you can segment your customers based on things like demographics, preferences, or purchase history. And, if you’re using an integration, you can sync those lists with our platform.

Learn how to personalise your text messages.
Great question. Use the templates above as a guide, and keep it short and sweet. If nothing else, remember to identify yourself, provide a clear call to action (that is, something for the customer to click on or do), and the option to opt out.
There are many ways you can build your SMS subscriber list. It can depend on the channels and systems you’ve got in place today. For example, you could have a sign-up sheet at your physical store, or add a check-box to your online checkout. Or, if you’re starting from scratch, you could run a competition to encourage people to sign up.

Here are some great tips and tricks for building your SMS subscriber list.
While there are no hard and fast rules here, you don’t want to bombard customers with too many retail SMS messages. The frequency of your texts can depend on your campaign goals and customer preferences — for example, you might send more messages during peak sales season.

Find the right balance by conducting tests and monitoring customer responses.

Brush up on business texting etiquette.
It sure can. In fact, SMS is the ideal channel for supporting your customers. If you’ve got two-way texting set up, they can reach out with queries, seek assistance, or get product information — all from the convenience of their phone.

Here are four reasons why SMS shines for customer support.
Given its immediate, conversational nature, SMS helps you nurture customer relationships. Use it to give your loyal customers exclusive deals and discounts, loyalty program updates, personalised recommendations, and birthday treats.

Here’s some inspo for ways to boost loyalty with SMS when it’s not peak sales season.

Ready to roll?

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