Retailers Use Texting As a New Way to SellFebruary 27, 2009 By Picture Business Staff
The idea of e-commerce without the Internet seemed unlikely a few years ago but that thought has become less absurd as the popularity of text messaging increases.
Today, "m-commerce" has most certainly found its place in the retail world. Amazon.com is credited with giving life to the m-commerce/text messaging with last year's launch of the successful TextBuyIt initiative. QVC quickly followed with its own version, QVC Text Ordering. The floodgates are now open.
Many smaller retailers around the country actually began using text messaging as far back as 2004. Others have experimented with advertising short codes on TV and in magazines to enable consumers to receive free samples of selected merchandise. Most retailers use texts today to market products or offer promotions, and to establish a close connection with consumers, since most are permanently connected to their phones.
The important part of this equation is that most consumers are texting; it's no longer just a teen thing. About 77 percent of the 259 million U.S. mobile phone users subscribe to or purchase text message capability, Nielsen Mobile recently reported. Text messaging has become so pervasive, according to the research firm, that U.S. mobile subscribers now send and receive more text messages in a month than they do phone calls - an average of 357 per month in second quarter compared with 204 phone calls.
On top of that, many text messagers shop on the Web. About 20 percent of them, or 51.8 million, spend more than $1,000 online annually versus 17 percent of all mobile phone users, Scarborough Research reports. Add it all together and you have the text-message marketing equivalent of the perfect storm.
The Amazon.com TextBuyIt set-up works like this: A customer sends a text message to the short code AMAZON (262966) with the name of a product, search term or UPC bar code number, or an ISBN code for books. Within seconds, Amazon.com replies with a list of products that match the search, along with prices.
To buy an item, a customer replies to the text message by entering the single-digit number next to an item. The customer then receives a brief phone call from Amazon.com with the final details of the order. The customer then confirms or cancels the purchase.
When a customer buys something for the first time using TextBuyIt, Amazon will ask for an e-mail address and the shipping Zip code on the Amazon.com account. With this information, Amazon.com uses the customer's default settings for payment method, shipping address and shipping speed to complete the first purchase and future purchases from the same phone.