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More evidence emerges of customer preference for messaging as ‘conversational commerce’ takes off

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Consumers are increasingly turning towards messaging, such as SMS and chat apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to engage with retailers, a global study has found.

Research from global trade body Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) supported by Mblox says that 76% of consumers have received communications from businesses such as retailers, banks and healthcare providers via SMS and that 65% have engaged with companies via chat apps.

The study, part of MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme, indexes the messaging habits of nearly 6000 respondents across nine countries worldwide. The financial services sector is the most active in enterprise messaging, with 33% of respondents having received an SMS for activities such as account activation and balance checking. 22% have done so via a chat app.

Retailers and eCommerce (websites and email service providers) are also using messaging to engage their consumers with 24% using SMS and 17% using chat apps. 23% of consumers have received a notification for delivery of goods via SMS and 16% via a chat app. The rise in demand for convenience with services like click-and-collect and last-mile notification is helping to drive this sector.

Messaging as an authentication channel is also on the rise. The report benchmarks password confirmation as the most popular use of application to person messaging (A2P) – globally for SMS is 30% and chat apps 25%. In mobile-first markets it’s even higher – Nigeria 49% and South Africa 38% have received an authentication message from an enterprise.

However, while SMS dominates A2P as the channel of choice, when it comes to person-to-person messaging (P2P) the ‘big two’ have edged past SMS. When asked which channel they used most, consumers chose Facebook Messenger first (56%), followed by WhatsApp (50%) and SMS (42%).

This chimes with the predicted rise in ‘conversational commerce’ that we have seen over the past few months. A recent study by Ovum for telecom-web convergence company tyntec, revealed that customers prefer to interact with customer service agents using different communication channels depending on where they’re at in the transaction process, and they expect service providers to be effective using mobile messaging where possible and that acceptance of OTT messaging was on the rise as a customer service channel.

Commenting on the report, Rimma Perelmuter, CEO at MEF,says: “Mobile messaging is enjoying growth as a vital platform for business to consumer communications – via both SMS and chat apps. The findings of the report show that there is clear consumer demand to engage with all kinds of businesses including retailers and ecommerce sites. Account authentication, notifications around delivery times and order confirmations are already widely used. The level of consumers’ engagement via mobile also highlights the potential for retailers to go beyond this and use SMS and chat apps to help build long term customer loyalty.”


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