Thursday, October 4, 2018

Categories: Thought Leadership

Will Text Commerce Work for JetBlack and Dirty Lemon?

Text commerce is the use of text messaging to interact, find, and buy a product from your mobile phone. It is different from mobile commerce, in that it relies only on SMS or simple text messaging to transact. Communication, shopping and purchasing are all done by text. This is unlike most references of mobile commerce – which includes shopping on an app, or on a mobile browser.

Text Commerce Innovation Text commerce is about using AI to personalize items for the customer

If you haven’t already seen the video, watch Jetblack’s (Walmart) text commerce launch. Not only is it a very cool video, but the concept is also quite novel. This isn’t about a greater online selection (think Amazon), or every day low prices (think Walmart). Walmart’s text commerce is about using AI to personalize items for the customer. Their video shows three options curated for the consumer. That doesn’t bombard the customer. It is actually a reasonable number from which to make a choice.

 

 

Briantrust on Text Commerce 

A Braintrust of experts at RetailWire almost entirely agreed Walmart’s innovation is ‘Wow’ worthy. Ray Riley, CEO of Progressive Retail states, “Continuing to zig as Amazon zags with an emphasis on human connection and leverage.” Ricardo Belmar, Sr Director InfoVista commented, “’Need it. Text it. Get it.’ That really sums it up!” Finally, Chris Peterson, President Integrated Marketing Solutions points out that, “Walmart needs to push the envelope … and this one looks like the right stretch at the right time.”

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All told, Jetblack is a smart twist on older tech. Text messaging has been around since the 1990’s. In a way, it was the first social media platform. The beauty is that just about every mobile device and smartphone is accessible. You don’t even necessarily need the customers’ phone numbers in advance, either. They reach out to the text retail service. Most people have tried texting, and are comfortable with it. Convenience and market education are already there. No, this does not guarantee success. Actually, as an entirely new channel, Walmart will need to keep marketing it. However, the groundwork is ready to fill the shopping cart. Could this be the rebirth of a new retail channel?

Dirty Lemon’s Experiment 

Another development in text commerce, is Dirty Lemon’s cashier-free, trust experiment. Dirty Lemon sells $10.83 activated-charcoal soft drinks. In a market heavily populated by health-focused drinks, their approach is an honor system. Given that this launch is in big city New York, you do have to wonder how long the honor system will work. For now, Dirty Lemon considers any shrinkage (theft), as part of their marketing program. It spreads the experience among consumers.

For the honest consumers, they walk in, grab a drink from the store refrigerator, and send a text message to Dirty Lemon. The company then sends a secure link to the customer to provide their credit card information. Voila – text commerce at work.

Dirty Lemon usually sells online by the case. Here, they are selling individual bottles to consumers. Although Dirty Lemon is banking on people’s honesty, it is a creative take on text commerce. In fact, CEO Zak Normandin is convinced it will work. He already has plans to open a second location in New York City, and two more in other cities. A subtle irony is that in this case text commerce is spurring the growth of brick & mortar retail.

Photo source: Idris Solomon for The New York Times

Tie It Together

A subtle irony is that in this case text commerce is spurring the growth of brick and mortar retailText commerce is a surprisingly exciting opportunity. Yes, it is old technology. But it is still widely used. People are comfortable with it. Consumers know how to use it. It is accessible from any mobile phone (even old ones). Sure, it was thought of as maybe a customer service option for retail. But it might have more punch as a sales channel. And like any other channel, tie it to the rest of your retail efforts. Bring it into your omni-channel fold. Tie it into your order management system to make sure it is part of your unified solution. Jetblack and Dirty Lemon’s text commerce vision will surely still evolve. But it does seem that text commerce might become a ‘thing’ again.

 

Author:

Charles Dimov - Director Marketing OrderDynamicsCharles Dimov is VP of Marketing at OrderDynamics. Charles has 23 years experience in Marketing, Sales and Management across various IT and Technology businesses. Previous roles include Chief of Staff, Director Product Marketing, and Director Sales. Charles has held roles in brand name firms like IBM, Ericsson, HP, ADP, and OrderDynamics.