But there's a huge downside with texting. Namely, many shoppers either do not have texting plans or they have very limited texting plans. That means those sale price heads-ups are costing your customers' money and, most likely, alienating them to a massive degree. Although harvesting mobile numbers is relatively easy, identifying who has a generous texting plan is not. AT&T, in what the telco says is an industry first, on Wednesday (Dec. 5) unveiled a program for retailers to send marketing texts to shoppers without those shoppers racking up charges, whether or not they have a text plan. Shoppers must use AT&T and retailers—initial chains include Gap, Staples, Zales and Neiman Marcus—will have to work within the limits of AT&T's program, suggesting that the texts may be able to flow as freely as a chain might want. But it's an interesting workaround for the text customer charge issue.
Retailers have become—understandably—quite smitten with texting shoppers, given the immediacy and intimacy involved. This starts with capturing their mobile numbers, which has to be done very carefully or retailers will suffer the legal headaches that now bedevils Walmart and Papa Johns.