How Nordstrom and Other Retailers Use Text Messaging

shopping phone

The most successful retailers take pride in providing world-class customer experiences. Although products and prices are important, customer experience can make or break a sale. Businesses are always finding innovative ways to provide convenient, efficient and personal shopping experiences.

It’s no surprise that today’s consumers are making more purchases from their mobile devices than ever—cell phones put convenience at your fingertips and they’re changing the way consumers communicate. Eighty-three percent of consumers respond to a text messages within 30 minutes or less, making texting one of the most effective ways to reach shoppers where they’re at: on the go.

Here are the top ways retailers use texting and some key examples of ones doing it well already.

Key ways retailers use texting

Offering mobile personal styling services
Imagine how much easier a digital personal shopping experience would be if you could quickly exchange product pictures back and forth. Instead of a customer describing a style verbally, they could just send a screenshot of the item they want. The two-way, conversational nature of texting allows stylists to easily go back and forth with a customer, ask clarifying questions, add a personal touch and ultimately make a sale.

Texting sale alerts and other promotions
Got a big sale coming up? Want to reward loyal customers with an exclusive coupon code? Text messaging allows you to quickly and easily send out alerts and promos to all opted-in users.

Updating billing and account information
Business-texting software like Zipwhip’s allows you to store customer credit card information and shopping preferences (like size) within a contact’s details page, making purchases and recommendations a breeze.

Allowing customers to shop and make purchases
You can also set up automation rules so that customers can easily text keywords and you can respond with links to the product they want. This allows them to find the items they want and quickly make purchases, and it requires little effort on your part!

Building a customer loyalty campaign via text
Retailers can ask customers to text a keyword to opt-in to their loyalty program. Imagine how quickly your subscriber list would grow if all customers had to do was text “LOYALTY” to 1-800-STYLE. You can even set up auto-replies triggered by a specific keyword, so club members can automatically receive a coupon.

Best examples of how retailers use text messaging

Nordstrom was one of the first fashion brands to offer styling and shopping services through text. They expertly combined their e-commerce experience and their in-store experience using texting. Based on style recommendations or shopping habits, consumers can make purchases via text. They can also directly reach sales associates at their convenience without having to make a call, wait on hold or visit in-person.

Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway’s texting concierge service was born out of consumers’ increased desire for a human touch in brand communication. The retailer recognized that the business needed to offer a more convenient way for customers to get in touch. They also noticed a trend that consumers still prefer apparel shopping in-store rather than online. So, they developed a digital texting strategy that enhanced the in-store experience – combining both online and offline tactics.

They’re still in the testing phase, but a select group of customers can now text to receive recommendations and style advice. They can also request expedited delivery and request items to be placed on hold for pickup in-store. When customers figure out logistics in advance via texting, their in-store experience will be efficient and smooth.

Right now, the texting service is entirely powered by humans, but they plan to implement AI eventually to expedite conversations. Automatic replies and other time-saving features are planned to roll out soon. However, they’ve emphasized the importance of their human-first strategy, and will approach AI cautiously in order to maintain the integrity of the texting channel.

Walmart recently launched their text-powered, on-demand e-commerce program called Jetblack. Aimed to compete against Amazon Prime, this texting service allows customers to place orders via text message. Jetblack stores the customer’s information, such as their credit card number and shopping preferences, to make placing orders quick and convenient.

Short code vs. long code vs. messaging apps – which is better for retailers?

Some luxury retailers have already implemented digital concierges and chatbots with the help of messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Other retailers have opted for short-code texting. But they’re all missing out on the brand equity and functionality you get with two-way text messaging.

Brand Equity
You’ve already invested money into building recognition around your retail brand name. People know your 1-800 or ten-digit business phone number – so, why not take advantage of that? For example, it’s so much easier to remember 1-800-LOWES than an additional short code number. Consumers don’t have to work so hard when you use the same number for everything – calls and texts. This works really well for customer service functions because of the seamless transition from text to call.

With a short code, recipients of your text can’t text you or call you back. This limits the level of engagement possible and eliminates all the great benefits of conversational texting.

Want to know more about texting for your store? Download our free e-book The Ultimate Guide to Texting Your Customers.

You’ll learn:

  • How to choose the right texting tool for your business
  • Legal and compliance tips
  • Texting etiquette
  • Common use cases
  • and much more!


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