Thinking about setting up a text message payment service for your business but aren’t sure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Once you start looking into the possibilities it can get a bit overwhelming, and you’re not alone in your search.
While SMS payments still aren’t the preferred payment method for businesses or customers (especially for small, casual purchases), they can be fantastic tools in certain situations and are getting more popular every year.
We’re going to cover the basics of SMS payments and then dig into 10 things you should know before deciding to install them in your business.
SMS stands for short-message-service and supports up to 160 characters. SMS payments are simply payment techniques that involve SMS text messages.
Now that that’s settled, let’s go!
#1 - There isn’t just one type of SMS system
As we just mentioned, SMS payments is sort of a broad term. There are a variety of companies tackling the text-pay challenges and more companies enter the space every year.
Pricing and individual models aside, there are a few main categories text systems fall under:
Just because you can initiate a payment conversation and confirmation in an app doesn’t mean the actual processing occurs within the app. Typically, a customer has a saved account in a secure system that was previously set up OR it’s tacked on to their phone bill.
Probably the most familiar type of SMS payment system is when a charity texts a customer and asks them to text a specific word back to give a donation. Then that customer sees that amount added onto their phone bill (this includes any fees taken by the companies involved).
While this can seem like a convenient system (and it is in certain situations), there are usually small transaction limits ranging from $5-$15 on these services to prevent fraud and potential chargebacks. If you are working outside of non-profits it’s probably better to use a different type of SMS payment system.
You’ve got lots of options when it comes to text-to-pay systems, and the way these companies charge can vary widely as well, but they typically offer package rates on texts or transactions + a nominal fee for every transaction.
Just because a customer is paying through a separate system doesn’t mean those transaction fees aren’t bundled in. As a general rule of thumb, all transactions will have interchange fees etc. tacked on.
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Some services let you have a universal system across texting and social media app messages. This is convenient because not only can you reach consumers where they prefer, you can also take your user flow and copy and duplicate across multiple outlets.
While customers don’t appreciate salesy messages all the time, you can use their phone and credit card on file to your advantage. For example, if someone buys an ENO hammock through an SMS payment system and you know most customers aren’t aware that you need straps with your ENO, you could send a message suggesting them to add the straps in at a discount.
Or you could segment all customers by products purchased and suggest something similar or announce when a new, similar item arrives. E.g. if you sent a text to everyone who has purchased a vegetarian sandwich about your new seitan wrap, your messaging will be a lot more specific (and specificity is everything in marketing).
Text message opens rates are still very good — just don’t abuse this power! Once again, no one likes a company that sends too many sales messages. It’s easier than you think to sour a positive customer relationship. Consciously put a cap on how many messages each customer can receive and make sure you use text payments and notifications for specific marketing mechanisms instead of relying on it as your main messaging source.
The point is, instead of looking at an SMS payment system as a major transaction type for your business, look at it as a marketing asset to assist in customer convenience around specific items or to reduce friction in certain payment situations.
Ideally, these messages are interactive and should relate to another action a customer has taken. It needs to have context, and by using it to equip and assist instead of replace, you’ll be well on your way.
Tidal Commerce loves to work with amazing business owners. We work with retail, healthcare, professional services, eCommerce, nonprofits — you name it. And as long as you want to grow your business and appreciate transparency and honesty, then you’ll fit right in.
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