How Ecommerce Stores in Kenya use Bulk SMS to increase sales

By Antony Sep 19, 2021

How Ecommerce Stores in Kenya use Bulk SMS to increase sales

E-commerce is the buying and selling of goods and services over the internet and transferring money or data to complete these transactions. Some examples of e-commerce businesses include an online second-hand retail store, an Instagram electronics wholesaler, an online-based cleaning service, movie streaming sites like Netflix, a crowdfunding service, among others.

According to the Economic Survey 2020 published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, online shopping registered a growth of 8.6% in 2019. Another survey conducted by Statista is projecting that e-commerce will steadily grow in Kenya at an annual rate of 11.6%, and by 2025, its market volume will stand at a little over 245 billion Kenyan Shillings. This growth in the use of online services is attributed to an increase in the use of smart mobile devices, a widened internet coverage, an increase in the buying power of the middle class, and the 2020 COVID pandemic.

There are different models that an e-commerce business may use, and these vary depending on who the business is selling to. The most common one is the business-to-consumer (B2C) model where a business sells directly to the end consumer. For example, if you replace your old phone with a new one that you purchased from a store on Jumia, the transaction is happening between you as a consumer and the business selling you the phone.

Another e-commerce business model is the business-to-business one (B2B) where a business sells to another business who then sells to another business or the final consumer. An example is the electronics wholesaler who is based on Instagram and sells only in bulk to retailers. We Shara Solutions is also an example of Business to business model coz help corporates to develop their websites, integrate payments to corporate website (We also help individuals though :) ) and sell bulk SMS to eCommerce companies such as Jumia. In the direct-to-consumer e-commerce model, a brand sells themselves directly to their consumer. Social media sites like Instagram and subscription services like Netflix fall into this category.

The final model of e-commerce businesses is the consumer-to-consumer one which we can simply refer to as an online marketplace. In this marketplace, different consumers come together to sell their products to other consumers. An example of this business model is OLX (which is now Jiji), eBay, and Craigslist.

To facilitate the activities of selling their goods or services, e-commerce businesses must communicate with their customers. Communication, in this case, includes confirming purchases and payments, providing updates on orders, advertising offers and sales, facilitating the setting up of new customer accounts, and other similar transactions. A business can communicate with its customers in different ways, and one of them is using bulk SMS.


The Use of Bulk SMS in E-Commerce

An e-commerce business can employ the use of SMS at different stages of their customer’s buyer’s journey. For starters, when a new customer signs up for an account, they can receive a one-time password and get confirmation of their registration through an SMS. If they place an order for items from the e-commerce or purchase a digital product like a Netflix subscription, they can get an SMS to confirm the order and purchase. Through SMS, a customer can also be able to track an order from the point of dispatch until the customer receives it.

SMSs can also be used for advertising a business’ products through:

-          Communicating sales, discounts, and exclusive offers on their products using mediums like videos and brochures

-          Awarding digital coupons to their repeat customers

-          Announcing new product launches through blog articles, videos, audios, and product catalogues

-          Linking their website and other relevant links that will lead a potential customer to the point of purchase on their site.

Businesses can also use bulk SMS to get feedback from their customers. After the purchase of an item from an online store, for instance, a business can send an SMS survey to get information about the customer’s experience and ideas on how to improve their service. During holidays like Christmas and Easter and on a customer’s birthday, SMS can be used to send out season greetings, holiday offers, and good wishes.

Why Businesses Use Bulk SMS

There are various advantages that an e-commerce business will enjoy when it uses bulk SMS. Some of these have been outlined below:

1. Bulk SMS marketing is a cheap way to keep your customers informed about your business’s products and services. This is in comparison to traditional methods of advertising like newspapers and television, and other methods like email marketing or door-to-door advertisements which are more expensive.

2. Through bulk SMS, an e-commerce business can also strengthen the relationship between them and their customers. This is because of the assurance that a potential lead or a customer enjoys knowing that they can get access to you by simply sending a message. Bulk SMS can be set up to have automatic canned responses for common questions, like a website’s FAQ so that any interested party can have their questions answered in real-time.

3. Bulk SMS can also contribute to a high rate of retention of customers through customized advertisements. These advertisements can be based on trends from previous purchases or search history by the customer. In cases where the individual has an item in their cart, the e-commerce can follow up and highlight discounts or sales they would enjoy if they complete their order.

4. Through SMS, an e-commerce business can send their customers reminders to pay at the end of the month, for instance, in a direct-to-customer business model like Netflix. The text can be used to remind a customer that if payment is not made by a certain date, they would be disconnected.

5. This method is also utilized by e-commerce businesses because it is an efficient and time-saving way of communicating with customers. With one click on the admin panel, a business can reach all its contacts.

How to Increase the Conversion and Retention Rate of your Busines using Bulk SMS

The use of bulk SMS by an e-commerce business can lead to an increase in the number of leads, better conversion rates, and better retention of already-existing customers. Here is how:

1. Through bulk SMS, an e-commerce business can deliver customer service in a timely, effective, and personal manner. When a customer enjoys this type of service, they are likely to purchase with the store again in the future.

2. A great customer service will also increase the conversion rate of leads. When a lead is curious about a product and through bulk SMS, they receive instant answers, they are assured that should they choose to purchase with the e-commerce, they will enjoy this type of service.

3. When performing an online transaction, customers like to know that their financial details are secure from potential hackers. With bulk SMS, e-commerce can set up two-factor authentication so that their customer must input a one-time pin before their transaction is completed. With this assurance, the business will likely turn leads who are paranoid about their security into customers who feel safe about their money and banking details.

4. As mentioned above, bulk SMS can be used to follow up with potential customers who have placed items in their cart but have not yet completed their order. Incentives such as discounts on the products or shipping fees for a period can entice a potential customer to complete their order.

5. An e-commerce can also run a loyalty program using bulk SMS by having competitions to reward their current customers and entice any new ones. For instance, if you are an e-commerce business that sells second-hand clothes, you can do a clearance sale. In this sale, any customers who have bought from you before can get three clothes for the price of one, and any new customers will get two pieces of clothing for the price of one. This would have a two-fold effect; retention in your previous customers and new customers who will be enticed by the sale.

 With the increase in internet coverage, it may sometimes feel like we have no use in relatively traditional mediums of communication like SMS. However, any e-commerce business that is looking to increase its sales or retain its customers must employ the use of SMS at some point in its customer’s journey. 

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