Boost Holiday Retail Sales with Back-in-Stock SMS Reminders

With a proactive back in stock SMS messaging in place, you can increase sales, repeat store and website visits.

February 14 2018

In 2017, Chinese consumers spent 462 billion yuan (67.3 billion U.S. dollars) during Chinese New Year, a rise of nearly 11% over the previous years, according to Card Issuer China UnionPay. The golden week sees a rush on popular items, with top-sellers sometimes running out of stock as doting parents or friends rush to pick up the hottest gifts of the year.

Holiday season or otherwise, customers get extremely frustrated when the item they’re looking for is out of stock: but out-of-stock need not necessarily mean lost sales or loyalty. With a proactive, sensible back in stock messaging protocol in place, customer interest can be piqued again, helping increase sales and repeat store and website visits.

Here are four ways you can use back-in-stock SMS reminders to bring consumers back to your store this Chinese New Year.

Send an SMS reminder as the item hits your warehouse

As soon as your new shipment arrives, an SMS can be sent to customers waiting on that item. The trick here is to make the alert specific and concise, with a call to action.

3 simple examples:

  1.  Great News! “Glass Cube Handcrafted Vase” is back in stock. You can purchase in store tomorrow from 9am onwards.
  2.  “Glass Cube Handcrafted Vase” is about to hit the shelves again. Click on the link to purchase yours before they’re all gone: (LINK)
  3.  Hi “First Name”. “Glass Cube Handcrafted Vase” is back in stock. We have a limited quantity so click the link to order and then pick up in store or have us ship it to your home: (LINK)

These messages not only remind the customer that they were looking for this item and that you are thinking of him/her but bring the offline and online together, a critical factor to deliver the omnichannel experience.

Allow customers to hold onto the item with an SMS reply

Just in case the customer isn’t able to immediately click on the link to purchase the item, you can send a message with the option to hold the item for a time period that works for your business. The customer can reply to this message with a keyword, for example the word "RESERVE", to hold the item. If the customer does not act on your message, follow up on the next day explaining that the item is running out of stock and urge purchase ASAP.

Example of sending back-in-stock SMS reminders and letting the customer reserve via keyword Consumers appreciate being in control of how they communicate – so do offer them the option to choose email for reminder messages. Not only do you reach them through their preferred mode of communication, you also secure a contact point for future marketing.

Send an SMS message with links to purchase other items you carry

If you cannot get the out-of-stock items in time for holiday delivery, let your customer know: but use the opportunity to flag alternative items that you do have in stock that might address their needs. Be very specific with your suggestions for other options.

  • Suggest items by the same maker/designer, a competitor or previous versions which may cost less.
  • Suggest the item in a different style, color or brand, for example.
  • List items that other customers purchased in lieu of the first choice.

Follow up with a discount

If you won’t be able to get the item back in stock, send a discount code on another item in your shop. You can tie the discount code into the alternatives that you suggested in the previous SMS or simply offer a blanket discount code or other incentive.

  • 15% off “Best Crock Pot Recipes” cookbook through this (LINK)
  • 10% off any single item in the store through this (LINK)
  • Free shipping through this (LINK) if you purchase within the next 3 hours.

The holiday surge is a crucial to boosting sales and hitting targets. Inventory management is a challenge and should you go out-of-stock, it is even more important to stay connected to the consumer. Sending back-in-stock SMS messages through a platform like Infobip is a cost effective yet impactful way to keep the channel open.

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