Mobile commerce is experiencing a boom, projected to reach £100 billion in UK retail sales in 2024. With over 70% of UK adults considering mobile as essential for convenient online shopping, it is clear, at least to us, that retailers should focus on improving their mobile commerce experiences to stay competitive.

Rich Communication Messaging (RCS) — the powerful next generation of SMS — transcends the traditional boundaries of messaging and offers an immersive and interactive user experience. 

With industry giants like Apple moving beyond standard messaging and supporting RCS this year, retailers are gaining access to a wider audience than with one or two other OTT (over-the-top) messaging platforms. But that’s not all, it’s about better UX for customers, deeper insights into the performance of messaging campaigns and enhanced trust between brands and customers. 

RCS: Hype or Trope 

Consumers are craving engaging experiences via their smartphones, ones that allow them to access what they want or need when they choose to. This process must be streamlined and efficient, but also interactive and captivating to gain attention and elicit a reaction.

Like other OTT messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, RCS can offer functionality without downloading an additional app. This builds on the seamless customer experience retailers have already homed in on. 

Today, an increasing number of businesses are jumping on the RCS bandwagon, with brands distributing 25,000 times more RCS messages in 2023 compared to the previous year. According to Research and Markets, the global RCS market is predicted to skyrocket to an eye-watering $19.48 billion by 2028, up from US $8.37 billion in 2023. This growth underscores business eagerness to embrace RCS early on, especially following Apple’s announcement of its forthcoming support for the RCS Universal Profile in 2024. 

The successful use cases out there increase daily: Retailers like Cdiscount used RCS messaging campaigns to increase average basket size by nine percent, and Micromania-Zing achieved an 86 percent higher read rate than newsletters.

Unleashing New Marketing Potential in Retail Communications

At a time when customers are in the driver’s seat, retailers and marketers need to be increasingly creative and reliable when presenting their brands and products to the market because visibility is half the battle. With evolving email marketing rules and intense social media competition, businesses must seek fresh avenues for engagement beyond traditional methods.

So, what is more consistent and powerful than your customer’s text inbox? It is a core part of their daily routine!

Frozen food retailer, Picard, integrated RCS to create a personalised, conversational experience over the holiday season. The aim was to create an interactive customer journey that personalised holiday menus during a stressful period. A journey that resulted in a three times higher click-through rate and a 42 percent increase in customer engagement for Picard – which furthered its mission to “continually nurture the love of good food,” in a highly competitive retail environment. 

The conversational messaging approach via RCS and the potential for personalisation is the consumer sweet spot. Tailoring relevant product recommendations, exclusive offers, and discounts can encourage customer appreciation and repeat business, increase sales, and cultivate brand trust and advocacy. 

Building Trust

Fostering loyalty in an era of fluctuating customer engagement is an undeniable challenge for businesses, but it is not impossible. To build advocacy, you must first build trust and loyalty – an invaluable imperative for retail marketers.

RCS offers a new level of security and reliability that customers increasingly value. In reality, consumers trust operators more than anyone else. The trust comes from having verified messages operating within a mobile inbox. Mobile operators and search engines, like Google, verify businesses to keep personal information and inboxes safe from spam and phishing. The integrity extends to RCS with an additional layer of trust through branded profiles. 

The rich content format illustrates that messages received are from verified businesses, unlike SMS, which shows you an unfamiliar number. As we expand beyond SMS to new channels, security is becoming more critical to mitigating against bad actors attempting to intercept personal information across those mediums. It also underlines trust between brands and customers. 

RCS: New Channel, new Chances 

In the end, the long-term success of business messaging in this way hinges on collective efforts within the ecosystem to uphold its integrity as a reliable and credible channel. Simultaneously, it is crucial to ensure that each RCS message enriches the user experience with genuine value; otherwise, customers will take note. 

Brands exploring the excitement and potential of the soon-to-be ubiquitous communication channel are a sign of its impact and potential longevity. While an omnichannel approach remains indispensable, the opportunities for RCS in the retail sector stand out as limitless for forward-thinking brands with a plan to revolutionise customer engagement. 

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