Eliminating lines for shoppers through text messaging

Articles
November 19, 2008

If there's one thing that makes for a grumpy shopper, it's waiting in long lines. And with the storm of holiday shopping about to hit, retailers and their employees will inevitably be faced with keeping their customers happy by moving those lines along efficiently while serving each shoppers' needs. Technology to the rescue! While many have experienced those blinking coasters at restaurants that notify them when their table is ready, a new service called QLess offers another solution that on the surface seems less cumbersome and allows customers to roam beyond the limits of the coasters' range. The service provides text messaging or voice call notifications straight to shopper's mobile phones to let them know it's their turn! Customers are not required to download any software, and for retailers, there is no need to purchase any hardware. All that is needed is a computer with a web browser. There are no long distance charges for either parties, and the retailer is charged on a per customer basis. The service is interactive, so shoppers can notify back if they need more time, they can confirm that they are on their way, or (ideally) they can let the retailer know if they have left the line.

If there's one thing that makes for a grumpy shopper, it's waiting in long lines. And with the storm of holiday shopping about to hit, retailers and their employees will inevitably be faced with keeping their customers happy by moving those lines along efficiently while serving each shoppers' needs.  Technology to the rescue!

While many have experienced those blinking coasters at restaurants that notify them when their table is ready, a new service called QLess offers another solution that on the surface seems less cumbersome and allows customers to roam beyond the limits of the coasters' range. The service provides text messaging or voice call notifications straight to shopper's mobile phones to let them know it's their turn! Customers are not required to download any software, and for retailers, there is no need to purchase any hardware. All that is needed is a computer with a web browser. There are no long distance charges for either parties, and the retailer is charged on a per customer basis. The service is interactive, so shoppers can notify back if they need more time, they can confirm that they are on their way, or (ideally) they can let the retailer know if they have left the line.

Although the source of this statistic is not cited, QLess claims that 94% of recipients read text messages. If that is true, it beats the heck out of other forms of advertising. QLess offers retailers highly targeted marketing in real time, such as promotions and coupons. Whether or not customers will be willing to sign up for a service that gives retailers this freedom is the question.  But the good news is that the service promises to not sell phone numbers for spamming.

According to the Nielsen Company, in the U.S. today, about 200 million of the 259 million wireless subscriber lines subscribe to or purchase text-message capability. Of these, 138 million (or 53% of all mobile subscribers) use text-messaging on a regular basis. In fact, text-messaging has become so pervasive that U.S. mobile subscribers now send and receive more text-messages in a month than they do phone calls.

When Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his presidential running mate, 2.9 million people in America received that text message over the course of a weekend. This new form of mainstream media could prove a useful tool for retailers as well, as texting has become a part of the American lifestyle.