Don’t Believe The Myth of The “Cashless Shopper”
Sometimes bloggers or journalists get a bit carried away. They see some data or fact, and run off to declare there’s a trend you need to know about.
The latest one I’ve seen is all about how to reach the generation of “cashless shoppers”. The argument goes that you need to use SMS messaging to reach customers because they are all shopping online – where you obviously can’t pay in cash.
The particular article I’m thinking of uses the fact that the UK spent £114 billion online last year as proof there’s a generation of shoppers who don’t use cash. I checked their facts, and it’s true. The UK spent a ton of money shopping online.
Maybe I’m nit-picking, but I don’t see how that translates to a special group of people who are “cashless shoppers”. So I did what everyone who has a question does these days. I googled about it.
According to a report on the BBC, digital payments exceeded cash payments in 2015. That bundles together debit cards, cheques, contactless and mobile payments. The article goes on to predict that cash payments will drop another 14% by 2024.
But not all sectors are equal. In the same article it says that 83.9% of payments at pubs are in cash. And 78.5% of convenience store payments are in cash. Discount stores receive cash 68% of the time. Travel and transport receive 59% cash. Those numbers are from 2014, the latest I could find with the sectors broken out. Obviously things may have changed some in the last year and a half, but probably not drastically.
Looking into things further, I read a Bank of England report that said while digital payments are increasing, so is the value of the Bank of England notes in circulation. They even created a short video to go along with the report that makes it clear they don’t expect cash to disappear at all. In fact, it may increase as they release new notes in the next few years.
SMS Isn't Just For Online Shopping
Getting back to my original question – whether the article I read about cashless shoppers is correct – I’d have to say I debunked the concept as a whole. Yes, people are buying more online. Yes, some people are using debit cards more frequently than cash, but not everywhere.
And by ignoring the sectors where cash still dominates, the article is potentially leaving the impression that only online retailers can benefit from SMS messaging.
That certainly isn’t true.
Online retailers can make great use of SMS messaging. But so can pubs, discount stores, travel businesses, and virtually any sector of business. Let’s take a look at how:
- Pubs can send “two for one”, “free appetisers with entrée”, or a percentage off coupon to customers via SMS messaging. Why let customers go to the pub down the road when you can give them a great deal in yours? So they pay in cash, that’s great! They also carry their mobiles wherever they go and love to get a deal from their favourite pub.
- Discount stores can alert customers of new stock, flash sales, or special events in store to increase foot traffic. Many shoppers still prefer to see what they’re buying in a store. These shoppers also carry their mobile everywhere and will see your SMS message virtually the instant you send it. That can entice them to stop by. So what if they pay in cash? It’s more money in your business’ pocket no matter how it looks.
- Travel agents, private hire, and other transport businesses can utilise SMS messaging in a variety of ways. Travel agents can raise awareness of new travel opportunities by sending messages to previous customers. Private hires can send messages to let their fare know when they will arrive. Transport companies can use SMS messaging to track and communicate with their fleet, or let customers know when they’ll be there to pick up packages.
The more you look, the more ways you’ll find to use SMS messaging in every sector. Cash, debit, credit or even bitcoin doesn’t matter. SMS messaging is a tool you can use in your business because just about everyone uses a mobile in the UK. Nearly 77% of Brits will have a smartphone in 2016 and some small percentage have basic phones. By the end of 2017, over 81% will have smartphones.
In the end it doesn’t matter how they pay, so much as how the live. We’re a mobile society now, and SMS messaging is still the best way to reach almost everyone quickly and inexpensively. See, now I’m getting carried away! Of course, I’m doing it deliberately to make a point.
We’d love to hear how you feel about cash versus digital payments. Do you still use mobile coupons if you pay in cash? Let us know in the comments.
I think for much of the last decade, people used the Internet and then mobile devices, without giving too much thought about what they were doing. Or more accurately, what other people were doing with their information. But then came Edward Snowden in 2013 who revealed governments were collecting and using our personal data in ways we hadn’t imagined.
One of the greatest advantages of SMS marketing is how fast it is. You might be thinking I'm talking about the almost instantaneous delivery rates, or how quick it is to write a message and send it to your entire list - but this time we're talking about how fast you can get results.
SMS marketing is very different to most other more traditional marketing tools, specifically because of its short-form, text only nature. This certainly shouldn't put you off though. We have put together our guide to both the best things about SMS marketing and some of the potential problems, and how to work around them.
Read some practical advice on how you can use SMS messaging to drive more traffic to your website. Include a shortened url in your SMS marketing message that sends the recipient to a special offers page or a how-to video or even a top-up page for consumables. But make sure the page is mobile friendly.
Marketing messages, whether in print or electronic have many parts to them. In the beginning there’s the hook that entices someone to continue reading, and near the end is the call to action. That’s where you make it clear what you want someone to do after reading the message. There are many parts in between these two, but these are, arguably, the two most important.
Facebook is a popular place. According to Statista, they had 1.44 billion active users in the first quarter of 2015. It’s no wonder then that businesses are flocking to advertise there. But big isn’t always better. SMS marketing is similar in many respects to Facebook advertising, and for some uses it is actually better. Let me explain and see if you agree.
Here's some ideas on what you can do to help your SMS campaigns to do better. Use the following checklist to see if you’re using all your possible channels.
It’s said over and over that SMS is one of the most personal forms of communications today. That’s mainly because people guard their mobile numbers and only give them out to those they think worthy of them. So anyone who has opted into your SMS messaging has indeed invited you into their personal world.
Every good retail business owner knows that the key to success is keeping his or her customers happy. Your level of customer service should be all encompassing to succeed and should consist of more than just being polite to the customer at the till.