This week I bought something from B & H Photo, which sells digital photography and video equipment. I was impressed to find it offers a cool text messaging feature. You can text your order number to a special short code ("BANDH"), and it will send you a message with your order's tracking details. Banks and phone companies have been using text messaging for a while, letting you get your balance or minutes used via texting. Certainly, companies that exist only via text messaging and offer 411-like functionality exist as well. And Europe is ahead of the text-messaging curve, where the SMS (define) market is more advanced.
Today we'll talk about ways your company can use text messaging.
Texting as Dialogue, Not Separate Commands
Before you start using text messaging, you must realize it has to be treated as a singular conversation with a customer. In other words, text messages need to retain information they learned from previous text messages. If I inquire about a specific product in my first message, then request user reviews in the second message, your system should understand that I'm still talking about the same product, so I don't have to keep retyping the product information.
Any of the commands below could include a product name or SKU. For example "review iPhone" would return a review of an iPhone. All successive commands, however, should assume "iPhone" is the product in question, until another product is specifically mentioned. "Avail" should return the availability of the iPhone, because the system knows what product we're talking about. The user wouldn't have to type "avail iPhone."
Seven Ways to Use Text Messaging
The ways texting could be used in retail are endless. This column should get you thinking of some generic ways to use texting in e-commerce and start you thinking of unique opportunities within your business in which texting might come in handy.
Questions, thoughts, comments? Let me know!
Until next time...
Today's column originally ran on December 12, 2008.
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