SMS vouchers are another reason for businesses to take mobile phones seriously as a selling channel.
The recent launch of SMS gift vouchers by womenswear chain Karen Millen has prompted furious discussion on the use of mobile technology for fashion retailers. Many are including the mobile channel in their sales strategies and SMS gift vouchers are one option to consider as part of this.
Karen Millen’s SMS gift vouchers are purchased online by customers, and can then be redeemed in store using the unique code sent to a customer’s phone. From a consumer point of view this provides a quick and simple way to purchase gift vouchers and is extremely handy for last-minute purchasing.
The advantage for retailers is that this gives them another avenue to push online customers to store and encourage further sales. It also allows for further customer data to be collected with minimal expenditure. Jon Bovill, IT director for Aurora Fashions, which owns Karen Millen, says: “Because Eagle Eye Solutions’ [provider of SMS gift voucher technology] mobile vouchers use our existing EPoS and Chip and PIN systems, we’ve not had to make any new changes to our in-store IT infrastructure.”
However, the SMS gift voucher option does not come without its challenges. As Alex Meisl, chairman of mobile marketing company Sponge, points out, it is complicated to establish a voucher format that will work across the innumerable different handset types.
Paul Bidder, commercial director at digital strategy agency Red Ant, thinks SMS could be used in other ways: “With mobile developing at such a rate of knots, I can see SMS being used more as a means of improving customer service - reminding people of dates for services, appointments to be aware of, and informing them that their query has been handled.”
Meisl agrees: “Deployed in the right way, it will be a strong offer and, given its relative ease of deployment, could form a very relevant part of any year one mobile strategy.”