The global retail market is forecast to be worth a total of over $25 trillion come to the end of this year, with Asia continuing to gain in importance; just think of Singles Day in China on November 11th when Alibaba alone sold over $38 billion of goods within a 24-hour period. This is the largest e-commerce day in the world but soon we will have Black Friday on November 29th and that will give Singles Day a good run for their money…

2019 has been a truly transformational year for retail across the board: technology is accelerating changes in the rules of engagement and consumers are getting more demanding than ever, researching even the smallest purchasing decisions. Who of us has not been to a store, stood in front of the goods we are interested in buying but before picking them up off the shelf and taking them to the checkout, verified online to see if they could be sourced cheaper? Very few, we hazard to guess!

Consumers are getting truly price savvy. Research has consistently shown that access to technology permitting, over 80% of shoppers do online research before going through with a purchase and furthermore, 90% start their buying process with a search online.

Online competition for the traditional high street stores is most definitely creating a lot of noise in the market and getting people to notice a brand is becoming an even greater challenge.

Companies now understand that social responsibility is no longer just an option. They have to take their environmental responsibilities particularly seriously and are under pressure from their customers to reduce their carbon footprint. One noticeable change is a big shift away from paper-based vouchers. Mitto has noticed a big increase in the distribution of such promotional material from our retail clients by SMS. We all know SMS has super-high engagement rates anyway but environmental concerns have added a new dynamic and this is pushing even more retailers towards using it.

People’s obsession with data means that the era of hyper-personalization is well and truly here. There is a real desire and expectation by individuals to be treated as just that and SMS as a channel for marketing material, in particular, lends itself very well to this. Not all offers are made equal so personalization is key to differentiating oneself in the market.

More shopping is being done on mobile devices but this is actually amplifying a persistent problem for online retailers, growing cart abandonment: where visitors to online sites are increasingly adding items to their online shopping carts but exiting without completing the purchase.

Research from Barilliance highlights the real cart abandonment challenge: the smaller the screen, the bigger the problem. Desktop 73.1%, tablet 80.7%, mobile 85.6%. Part of the problem is down to technology as many retailers carry out little or no optimization for mobile.

Brands spend a lot of money driving traffic to their websites through advertising only to make the assumption that once a customer lands on site their work is done. Wrong. There’s still plenty of work to be done to actually get the purchases across the line and SMS is perfect for this: an engagement rate other mobile channels in isolation can only dream of and something which is truly ubiquitous.

Bricks-and-mortar retailers need to be particularly creative and one great use case we have seen from customers recently is using SMS to provide stock updates. Another question for you all: how many of you have gone into a shop only to be told what you are looking for isn’t in stock? The staff can take a person’s name and number and send an update when an item comes back into stock. This all saves the prospective client time and enhances the customer experience.

Despite their clear willingness to share personal information, most customers have abandoned surveys once they have started completing them. Traditional survey response rates are low with a rate of just 10-20% being regarded as decent! 2-way SMS changes the game and providing a survey is short and snappy, response rates are far higher. Retailers are desperate to find out how they are performing but need to understand that they need to take up as little of people’s time as possible. And SMS can be used to great effect to achieve just that.

Innovation is key to being successful in retail and with Mitto in your corner, you have a reliable, creative partner to help you combat challenges and stay competitive.