7 Ways Retailers Are Using Mobile Messaging to Connect During the Pandemic

As states begin to loosen restrictions to allow for in-person shopping, retailers are wondering what it will take to lure people back to their stores. According to a recent survey, 67% of consumers say they still aren’t comfortable with the idea of going into a retail clothing store, and just 34% of adults think states should allow retail businesses to be open at all.

By most measures, it appears that retailers have a tough road ahead of them. While deep investments into ecommerce and steep discounts on existing merchandise are expected, many retailers are exploring other avenues in a bid to connect with customers and offer a sense of assurance during the pandemic. Mobile messaging platforms are being utilized in new and unexpected ways. With open rates close to 100%, texting has become the communication channel of choice during the ongoing pandemic.

Here are seven examples of ways that retailers are using mobile messaging to connect with customers during Covid-19.

1. Offering Discounts via SMS
Surveys show that time spent on mobile devices has grown 30% post-pandemic. Brands like Love Wellness are keeping that shift in mind as they push more heavily into SMS as an alternative to email marketing. During the pandemic, Love Wellness has used a platform called SMSBump to communicate directly with shoppers through SMS. Through these communications, Love Wellness has been encouraging shoppers to leave reviews, and the brand has been rewarding loyal fans with discounts and special offers available only via mobile.

2. Providing Uplifting Content
When so much of the news is depressing, retailers are making sure their mobile messaging is as uplifting as possible. The fashion brand Summersalt recently launched a “texting experience” where shoppers could text the word “Joycast” to a specific number to receive content like uplifting memes and activities to try during quarantine.

3. Bringing Together Neighbors
With the ninth most-downloaded lifestyle app in the U.S., Nextdoor has become a force in hyperlocal social networking. Walmart tapped into Nextdoor’s massive mobile networking program with a partnership during Covid-19. The “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” partnership was designed to connect community members and facilitate the delivery of essential goods. Neighbors can volunteer to pickup and deliver items to people in need, with the mobile app providing directions to the nearest Walmart location where they can purchase those items.

4. Notifying Shoppers About Store Closures
The mobile messaging startup Attentive is being used by more than 1,000 businesses, including retailers like Urban Outfitters, CB2, and PacSun, to manage all aspects of mobile messaging. Since the pandemic began, Attentive has seen retailers sending more text messages that directly address Covid-19 with information about store closures and notes from company founders. Attentive is also seeing retailers indirectly addressing the pandemic by promoting craft kits and retail therapy.

5. Taking Online Orders
Not all ecommerce websites are optimized for mobile. With more people shopping on their smartphones, brands like Dirty Lemon have started accepting orders via text message. In marketing materials, Dirty Lemon is now including the company’s full phone numbers, instead of short codes, and its representatives are responding to customers by text in almost real-time. The goal is to gain consumers’ trust by appearing more authentic during what has become a nerve-wracking time for many people.

6. Maintaining Relationships with Customers
Some retailers are addressing Covid-19 head on, and others are using mobile messaging to project a more upbeat tone. Retailers like King Kong Apparel are focusing on maintaining their relationships with existing customers, and they are avoiding mentioning coronavirus by name in their customer communication. Instead, King Kong Apparel is intentionally using vague language to address the closures of facilities where its apparel is used in their mobile marketing pitches.

7. Bringing Peer-to-Peer Interactions Online
The iconic beauty brand L’Oréal has launched a social platform to encourage people to shop online with their friends during the pandemic. Available to retailers, the Squadded Shopping Party gives friends a way to shop together on e-commerce sites just like they’re in a virtual mall. L’Oréal is hoping that peer-to-peer shopping will catch on in the same way online group activities like Netflix Party and Instagram Co-Watching have caught on during the pandemic.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

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