HomeOPINIONStaying relevant in what could be the weirdest Black Friday ever

Staying relevant in what could be the weirdest Black Friday ever

Clear blue skies, crowded malls and shoppers with full bags in each hand, it must be the Christmas shopping season downunder.

While we are accustomed to these scenes each year as shoppers go out of their way to find the perfect gift, or secure a bargain, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world and the way we shop, which means 2020 could mark the weirdest Black Friday ever.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put retail to the test in 2020. Stores were forced to close their doors, and they had to change the way they interacted with customers. Shoppers’ priorities and buying behaviour changed as the economy was put under strain. As the all-important holiday shopping season moves closer, it is even more critical retailers invest in proven marketing technology to stand out from the crowd.

During lockdown, many retailers had to reinvent themselves, utilising ecommerce and how they could take their in-store shopping experience to the internet, so they did not lose touch with their customers. But now is not the time to resort back to the old ways, as retail experts at McKinsey say, the digital transformation of retail is here to stay and now is a time for retailers to continue to boost their digital transformation ambitions. 

This holiday shopping season there will be a tyrant of advertising as retailers try to get their sales in front of potential shoppers. But smart retailers will utilise methods that engage with customers, breaking through the marketing noise. Although the clock is ticking, it is not too late to invest in communication technology to make sure you are noticed.

Shoppers don’t want to sort through large amounts of advertising before they find a product relevant to them, which is why stores need to introduce a system that will send personalised information of products and sales to the right person.

As email inboxes get flooded, it is easy for messages to be overlooked, but the humble text message still gets noticed. SMS is leading the charge when it comes to communication tools. Communication Platform as a Service (CPaaS) solutions remain at the forefront for retailers seeking to accelerate sales post-pandemic. Using an omnichannel mobile strategy differentiates from email and keeps customers engaged by sending personalised information to the right people at the right time using SMS. 

About 90 percent of text messages are read within the first three minutes after they are received, which makes SMS marketing a strong option for retailers to connect with their customers. It is a proven way to grow customer loyalty and engage better with your shoppers.

Retail has been hammered by the global pandemic, and research and advisory firm Forrester has predicted the sector will see a US$2.1 trillion loss around the globe in 2020, and that it will take four years for the sector to fully recover from this economic blow. In New Zealand the latest retail confidence report from Retail NZ highlighted the impact the sector has had, with overall spending down 6.4% since March, and 13% of retailers saying they are not confident they will survive.

The dire situation retail is in means it can’t afford to experiment with unproven methods, and retailers do not have time to build a system themselves, which is why a trusted CPaaS solution is worth consideration.

Not only will direct communication with customers create a point of difference that drives up engagement, it creates a virtual experience that shoppers are missing from not being in a store.

At Soprano, we believe businesses need to be smart when adopting new technology to improve their connection with their customers. With uncertainty in the industry, this is not a time to experiment with unknown platforms, rather, it is a time to source proven programs and methods that deliver results retailers need to connect with customers. This is a time for retailers to upgrade their communication technology so they can leapfrog their competitors.

Despite COVID-19 creating a grim outlook on the retail sector in 2020, the possibilities text message CPaaS offers is vast, and as they work through these challenging times, proven methods that connect and grow engagement with customers will contribute to their success. Emails are abundant and easy to overlook, flyers get put aside, but the humble text message is a proven way to get noticed.

Matt Thompson is the Vice President, Global Product and Marketing for Soprano Design

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