Why Retail-Centric Businesses Should Embrace Text Messaging for Customer Communication: 3 Key Reasons
In the past, independent and local retailers struggled to compete with big box stores because they couldn’t access the same resources.
Now with the emergence of new technologies, they have access to the same tools and platforms as their competitors.
Adopting the right technology helps level the playing field, and allows retail-centric business owners like yourself to scale your business.
When it comes to customer communication, showing up for your customers can be much simpler than you thought.
An all-in-one communication platform can help your business build relationships and become more efficient.
Let’s have a look at a few strategies that help independent businesses win every day.
#1 Reviews – A Lead Generator on Auto-Pilot
When it comes to making a new purchase, you can guarantee that most if not all of your customers have done some type of research before walking into your store.
Whether it’s through your retail store or online store, about 93% of customers have actually read an online review before making their purchase.
The best part about Google reviews is that independent and local businesses have the upper hand when it comes to Google searches.
This is because Google prioritizes local businesses, this is called local search engine optimization (SEO).
Instead of competing with all businesses on the internet, it means that you are competing with other local businesses within your industry, and more specifically your goal should be to be in the coveted 3 first results in a Google search.
Google focuses on 3 main factors to determine if your business is the right result for a search: relevance, distance, and prominence.
Let’s focus on prominence.
More reviews = higher review score = higher review count = more customers that will land on your business when they are searching for ‘best X near me’.
Learn more about search engine optimization in this post 3 Facts and 1 Clever Workflow to Get More Google Reviews.
When browsing for a new business, of course, reading reviews is one of the first things customers do, but before they even click on your reviews, they are assessing your business based on the rating and number of reviews.
Customers are gauging which businesses pique their interest, and once they are convinced that you might be a good choice, then they will click and learn more about your business and read those reviews in detail.
The very fact that they have made it that far means that they have found you, clicked on you, and the reviews have convinced them that they want to do business with you, it’s a no-brainer that their next step is to visit your website or bring them to your store.
Once customers are convinced that you are a business worth visiting, they will invest time in browsing your online presence as a whole.
Historically, and even today word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most promising sources of new customers and the one that is most likely to convert.
However, word-of-mouth has taken on a new shape with 91% of 18-34-year-olds saying they trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from friends and family.
This age group also covers the two largest demographic walking in and out of your store every day. If you find yourself having a hard time understanding how to communicate with different generations, check out this post.
Reviews build trust because they give the customer power and confidence in their decision to take a chance on your business among others.
Right Time, Right Place
The fastest way to take advantage of the benefits of Google reviews is to have a strategy and grab your customer’s attention at the right time.
While as a business owner, you might already be somewhat aware of the importance of reviews, you might have realized that asking your employees to ask customers for reviews at checkout or even putting it on your receipt might not yield the results you want.
The reality of asking customers for reviews that way, even if they loved your service and product, is that they will most likely forget to do it.
Essentially what you are asking them is to find the time to go on their phone or laptop, look up your business, and type out a review. That’s 3 steps too long.
Now, what’s better than asking your customer about their purchase and kindly asking them to leave you a review a couple of days after their purchase? They’ve had just enough time to enjoy and it’s still very fresh in the experience is still very fresh in their mind. What’s the best way of doing this you might ask? Sending them a text message with a direct link to your business page. Now you have removed all the extra steps for them.
And perhaps they might give you the opportunity to privately solve an interaction they might have been disappointed with.
Check out one of the many Ikeono customer success stories here. This bike shop now ranks in the top 3 in a Google search for ‘bike shops in Santa Monica.
Google has specific guidelines on how to use reviews in your marketing materials, everything you need to know is laid out in a couple of easy steps.
#2 Be There for Your Customers, Even Before the Sale
Webchat > Website Forms
Most businesses have a contact page, this is absolutely necessary but those that choose to contact you in that way are most likely going to be customers.
You might also have forms throughout your website to capture customer information, but that creates a delay and adds unnecessary steps for your customers.
Should they really fill out a form or email you about a sizing question?
Future customers are browsing your website and they often have specific questions, just a couple of answers can turn them from leads to customers.
Remember, when it comes to new leads navigating your website, you don’t even have their email and not even their phone number yet.
Being available to chat is a much more effective way of capturing leads on your website than a form or asking them to email you for inquiries.
The barriers to entry are much lower and the interaction feels personal. In fact, 41% of customers expect you to have a chat option available.
The interesting part about this customer expectation is that they are actually very busy people, just like you. Whether they are browsing your website on their laptop or phone, they probably don’t want to spend their whole day on your site, but their purchase is still important to them.
#3 The Future of Payments
The future of payments is text payments.
Text messaging can be the solution to many obstacles that business owners face. The proof is in the pudding.
Text messages have a 98% open rate, and the customer opens the text message in just under 3 minutes.
Making text messaging the most simple and powerful way to ask for payments. Whether you collect the amount in full or get a deposit on a special order or layaway, text payment is a simple and powerful tool.
Text payments are no different than credit cards, you as the business owner get paid out immediately.
Here are some Ikeono customers using text payments IRL (in real life).
In addition to wearing multiple hats, pet store owners need to spend a lot of time educating their customers on products and recommendations for their very important family members, their pets.
Ikeono customers can easily answer all customer questions via text message while staying busy in the store.
At the end of the conversation, they are able to get paid immediately by sending over the payment link.
All the customer needs to do is come in for a pickup (which can also be arranged by text)!
Text messaging helps jewelry stores address questions throughout the entire customer journey.
Your customer’s journey might start on your website or through social media, but one thing is for sure, they will have questions. More than one.
Making a large purchase is a personal experience and customers want to be educated and be able to easily ask you questions before committing.
Not only can you be available for them in the easiest way, but you can also close the sale via text message, take a deposit without the need to step into your store, or even give them the option to spread out their payments with buy now, pay later options.
Oh, and text payments are PCI compliant, and credit card numbers over the phone aren’t 😅.
Text messaging brings ease of mind to boutique retailers.
They are often offering unique products for their customers that can require intimate conversations.
Maybe your customer doesn’t want to start talking to you out loud in your store about special sizing, or maybe they want to make sure you have fittings rooms with mirrors on the inside. A call can be too much, but a text message is perfect.
It’s easy for you, easy for them.
At the same time, intimate conversations like this can very quickly build a relationship and create trust. And you might even be able to answer all of their questions and close the sale through text messages. We know Ikeono customers do.
Eager to Start Building Those Strong Customer Relationships?
Text messaging and web chat are not new technologies per se, but we’ve come to a place where the norm has become to text our friends and families and call businesses when we need something.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
We recommend picking up the phone and calling that friend or family member you haven't seen in a while and humanizing business relationships through the power of creating personal connections.