The number of mobile messages sent by businesses is set to increase by ten per cent to 2.7 trillion in 2020, with increased demand for online retail services a major factor.
A study conducted by Juniper Research said the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns had led to a surge in eCommerce activity, which in turn had increased the number of messages used to inform customers about order confirmations, dispatch notifications and tracking information.
It estimates the volume of messages sent by online retailers will rise by 20 per cent this year, rising from 336 billion to 408 billion.
This figure includes SMS, RCS (Rich Communication Services), and OTT (Over-the-Top) messaging applications like WhatsApp. However, the ubiquity of SMS meant it accounted for 98 per cent of all communications.
But despite the seemingly growing importance of messaging, Juniper says investment in new messaging technologies had slowed due to the pandemic.
OTT applications allow businesses to send richer messages that include real-time data, images and video. However, the market is fragmented and to receive such communications, customers must download the relevant application.
RCS hopes to solve that problem by positioning itself as a successor to SMS, combining the ubiquity of the service with rich media capabilities. It is being heavily pushed by Google and operators hope it will increase revenues.
While RCS and OTT applications have yet to displace SMS as the predominant channel of communication, Juniper expects online retailers to be early adopters as they seek to capitalize on this increase in demand.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated digital transformation in the retail sector, as footfall in physical locations is predicted to remain stunted by public concern,” said Research author Scarlett Woodford noted. “To fully capitalize on this, brands must create personalized retail experiences through rich media content, subsequently driving consumer loyalty and increasing profits.”