RCS (Rich Communication Services) isn’t just a buzzword for telecommunications geeks—it’s the next generation of text messaging. It not only eliminates many of the existing pain points of SMS and MMS, but also offers a new, rich experience within native texting applications. Features like rich carousel cards, group chats, read receipts, inline picture and video messaging, visual maps and more are all available in RCS and will change the way businesses text with consumers.

It’s clear that RCS is the future of texting. According to the GSMA, 86 percent of smartphones will be RCS-enabled by 2020. We’re proud to be on the forefront of this innovative change and are here to share everything you need to know about RCS so you don’t miss the boat.

How RCS Works

RCS vs. SMS – what’s the difference between the two?

Although SMS will likely never be eliminated entirely (texting still needs to be possible on phones that don’t support RCS), RCS is poised to essentially replace it.

When you compare RCS and SMS, the differences are stark. You could make the comparison to plain-text email and HTML-designed email. One is interactive, engaging and fun to read, while the other is not. Without the functionality for read receipts, seamless group messaging, stickers, animations, and other rich features consumers have grown to expect in chat applications, SMS is behind the times.

What about RCS vs. Messaging Apps (like WhatsApp and Facebook)?

The three biggest differences between RCS and today’s messaging apps are:

  1. You don’t need a data connection to send and receive messages. RCS texts will revert back to SMS and MMS automatically when there is no data connection available or the receiving handset doesn’t support RCS.
  2. Messaging apps aren’t tied to a phone number, whereas RCS is. This is huge benefit for businesses that have an established phone number. They can communicate via text with customers from the exact same number they use to make and receive phone calls.
  3. Users don’t need to install a separate application to receive RCS communications. If the recipient’s phone doesn’t support RCS, the messages will revert automatically to SMS or MMS.

Although RCS and messaging apps have many of the same features, these three unique benefits of RCS provide tremendous value and a competitive advantage. It means brands have the ability to message with consumers even when they are offline. It also means there’s no setup or installation required for the consumer. Without these hoops to jump through, no obstacles stand between brands and their customers.

How Do People Receive RCS Messages? What Phones Support RCS?

RCS is currently compatible with most Android phones. If a recipient’s phone doesn’t support RCS or lacks data connection, messages will revert to SMS or MMS automatically.

RCS takes place within the consumers’ native texting application, so consumers don’t need to do anything special to be able to receive RCS. No installation or setup required!

Who Can Send RCS Texts?

Just like SMS, features of RCS are available to both businesses and consumers. Consumers will be able to see when the person they’re texting with is typing and when they’ve read sent messages. Multimedia will also be enhanced. Additionally, consumers will be able to confirm an appointment, whether it’s at the dentist or car dealership, with the tap of a “confirm” button right in their texting window.

On the business side, companies will be able to build out more robust experiences for their communication. For example, they can send tickets for events, build chatbot engagements, confirm appointments with easy one-click buttons, send receipts and much more.

Why RCS is Important

According to a study by Juniper Research, businesses will send an estimated 2.7 trillion SMS messages by 2022 and GSMA projects the business messaging market will reach $74 billion by 2021.

Pretty soon, RCS will be the new text messaging standard. With 54 percent of U.S. consumers currently on Android devices, the majority of consumers will be using RCS on a daily basis. If brands fail to recognize this massive shift and don’t start preparing now, they could potentially miss out on huge marketing opportunity.

The Uses for RCS are Endless

The opportunities for unique customer journeys and rich experiences through RCS are endless.

This week, in partnership with Zipwhip, the Sacramento Kings became the first professional sports team ever to offer RCS messaging. Using RCS, the Kings will be able to provide a human-to-human fan experience, incorporating rich media, location sharing and more into their communications.

Here are some other uses for RCS you can expect to see:

  • Payments
  • Suggested replies (i.e. individual buttons for “yes,” “no,” “confirm,” etc.)
  • Menus
  • Appointment Booking

Often bombarded with irrelevant advertisements or forced to endure painful customer service robots, consumers of today crave a richer experience when interacting with brands. With emerging AI and advanced technology, consumers expect to communicate with brands the same way they communicate with their friends and family. Offering an app-like experience within consumers’ native texting program allows for a seamless experience that’s reminiscent of chatting with a loved one.

Want to learn more about RCS and how Zipwhip can help you start using it? Contact us today.

Madeleine Wilson

Madeleine Wilson

Content Marketing Manager at Zipwhip
Madeleine Wilson is the content marketing manager for Zipwhip. Her experience in brand strategy, strong writing skills, and eye for design help drive traffic to the Zipwhip website. She loves telling the stories of how Zipwhip impacts businesses and consumers.
Madeleine Wilson