22nd - Nov - 2018

Enterprise Messaging this Holiday Season is All Gravy

The president of the US has just pardoned the traditional turkey, marking Thanksgiving and for many, the beginning of the festive season. For retailers this is the golden quarter. And buoyed by major shopping events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Alibaba’s Singles Day in Asia, retailers are bracing for a bumper year, especially online.

In the US for example, Internet Retailer forecasts that shoppers will spend $119.99 billion online during the holiday shopping season - a 15.5% increase on the same period in 2017, while in Europe, Adobe forecasts a jump of nearly 25%.

It follows that in a multichannel world, where the customer journey is likely to start online (on mobile) and may end there, or result in a visit to a brick and mortar store, retailers need to use every available opportunity to enhance the customer experience and maximize sales.

Easy to say, more difficult to do, especially when you consider that customer expectation itself has become more demanding. Price is of course one determining factor, but there’s also plenty of evidence to suggest that for many shoppers, the quality of the experience and the customer service they receive, plays a major role as well, especially for brands that want to build loyalty and keep people coming back after the holiday rush.

Savvy retailers have for some time used A2P messaging throughout the customer journey, from notifying them with marketing messages around offers, to letting them know that their delivery is on its way (and the driver is called John).

SMS has traditionally enabled this asynchronous interaction, and for good reason, it has a 98% open rate compared to 20% with email, and 90% of messages are read within three minutes of delivery.

But new mobile technology, like smartphones, has spawned new patterns of consumer behavior. For example, there has been a general shift toward an expectation that we can interact with shops in the moment of need. In other words, rather than being the recipient of asynchronous messages, consumers now expect a two-way conversation and that is often something that they initiate themselves.

Now, enabled by CPaaS platforms and richer messaging like RCS, retailers have a much greater opportunity to meet this customer service need, and importantly make it personalized and contextual.

AI and chatbots for example mean that questions like; How can I return this item? Have you got these shoes in my size? Where is my nearest store? Can all be answered within any given branded retail experience, importantly without the need for call center service agents.

Add to that a video chat, images and clickable buttons that help the consumer on their retail journey, and the possibility of delivering a first class customer experience using A2P messaging is a no brainer.

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