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Retail’s Mobile Effort to “Touch Me”

     This past October 13th and 14th, SAP Retail hosted our annual Retail Forum in Las Vegas.  This year, it was all about mobility as part of a multi-channel retail strategy; how customers with smart phones shop and how retailers need a strategy to “touch” these customers in new, innovative ways.

     But while retailers work on their mobility strategy, developing apps on multiple operating systems, determining social strategies, delivery methods and measurements, they are all but ignoring an opportunity to “touch me.”  Talk to me the way I want to be talked to – via SMS or MMS.  Yes, retailers, why not text me?  I’m busy, I hate talking on the phone, and this is how I like to communicate; it’s my “touch point”.  It’s quick, efficient, and when I’m in a rush, I don’t want to wait for your website to load on my smart phone, or call you and spend endless amounts of time answering prompts to get to the right associate (and how often does that happen, really? It’s more likely I’ll hang up in frustration or get disconnected).  I’m a multi-tasker, and I’m used to corresponding quickly via texts.  Short bursts, no sales pitches.  Cut to the chase.  Yes or no.  Tell me something I want to know.

     My mobile device can be recognized when I walk in your store. Can you text me coupons when I walk in, so I don’t have to carry them in my handbag?  Can you text me when my prescription is ready for pick up?  Mr. or Ms. Sales Associate, why not send me a picture of the hot new boots you got in today via text? And, if you could put together an outfit and send me a picture, even better!  You do it on your website.  Now push it to me – via text.

     What if I want to text you?  Shouldn’t be so hard.  Why can’t I make a dinner reservation by text?  Wouldn’t it be nice if I could text my nearest store to see if they have my size in stock?  Or if not, could you tell me which stores in my area have it in stock now, so I’m not a lost sale?   If you could do this, I wouldn’t need to shop at your competition.

     Remember, m-commerce is supposed to be all about ME.  It’s about respect for MY time and how I like to shop.  If you can communicate with me via MY preferred method, not yours, “I’m gonna love you till the heavens stop the rain,” (“Touch Me”, The Doors, 1968 – I couldn’t help myself).  I will be your most loyal brand ambassador, shop you first and more frequently, and you will get a much larger part of my wallet than your competition.  So text me, please.

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      White House/Black Market, a division of
      Chico's, an SAP Retail customer, is listening. Here's an article describing their new service, Fashion Alerts:

      'Women’s apparel retailer White House Black Market has launched FashionAlerts, location-based text messages that alert shoppers close to participating stores about upcoming in-store sales, online promotions, new product releases, sweepstakes and style tips.

      When a consumer who opts in to the program approaches one of the 26 participating White House Black Market stores, wireless network geolocation technology in concert with her mobile phone trigger a marketing text message.'

      The article notes that there is a 95% read rate for opt in text messages.  Smart phones and downloaded apps aren't required.

      Which was my point!

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      SMS ads reached about 44% of the approximately 230.5 million mobile subscribers age 13 and up in the EU5 nations during the three-month average ending in September 2010.

      The most common type of SMS ad recalled during the three-month average ending in September 2010 was product, service or brand information, which more than 60 million mobile phone owners received, equaling a 26% reach across the EU5 countries.