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The Truth About SMS for S.H.A.F.T. Brands

The Truth About SMS for S.H.A.F.T. Brands

At Voyage SMS, it’s our mission to help a diversity of clients best serve their customers, so let’s dig into the overall situation with SMS and S.H.A.F.T. brands, and clear up the confusion.

July 12, 2021

TL;DR: Most Can Still Utilize SMS with Proper Age Gating

Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. And text messaging.

For so-called S.H.A.F.T. companies, keeping in compliance with SMS legislation and carrier rules can seem daunting.

Referred to by many businesses as a new “Wild West,” there’s been a lot of talk (and some confusion) about what is and isn’t permitted for SMS e-commerce, if you operate a brand that might fall under one of these categories.

At Voyage SMS, it’s our mission to help a diversity of clients best serve their customers, so let’s dig into the overall situation with SMS and S.H.A.F.T. brands, and clear up the confusion.

This way, you can be sure to not only remain in compliance but also pursue your business goals through SMS – worry-free.

First, let’s move past one common misconception.

The Rules Haven’t Changed – But Enforcement Has Shifted

Recent chatter about SMS compliance updates are in actuality not about new legislative changes applying to S.H.A.F.T companies. Such rules have been in effect for a while, and have remained largely the same for some time.

What has changed is carrier enforcement. Carriers are simply paying more attention to whether S.H.A.F.T. brands are following federal rules under the FCC.

This increased scrutiny has for related reasons coincided with the grandfathering out of shared short codes. With more brands texting, carriers want to more easily gather detailed information on who is and who is not complying with regulations. You can’t do that when brands are sharing short codes.

These are the facts. The rumors circulating suggest a more dramatic – and incorrect – interpretation: that S.H.A.F.T. companies are being restricted from SMS marketing altogether.

That’s not the case – with one exception*.

* The exception would be for entities designated as promoting Hate.

The Solution: Proper Age Gating

Voyage SMS was built to flexibly serve all marketers’ unique needs. Just as no consumer is the same, no brand is the same. This remains a primary driver of our product decisions.

For this reason, our custom-designed lead capture forms ensure immediate compliance for S.H.A.F.T. brands. Consumers must provide a valid age to opt-in to our text messaging platforms.

What is Age Gating? 

All S.H.A.F.T. brands must ensure that their SMS audience is of-age to receive products. To enforce this requirement, SMS subscribers must verify their age and birthday at opt-in, and brands are required to strictly maintain list compliance.

A highly important note on age-gating: Text-to-join campaigns DO NOT count as age-gating. Age-gating must prevent anyone not meeting age requirements from subscribing, which requires Modal (form) usage for online opt-ins.

As an example, look at how we’re executing proper age gating for Winc:

For any brand leaders that want to be incredibly sure, you don’t have to just take our word for it. Check out what Twilio has to say on the subject as well.

“If you are sending messages in any way related to alcohol, firearms, gambling, tobacco, or other adult content, then more restrictions apply. In addition to obtaining consent from every message recipient, you must ensure that no message recipient is younger than the legal age of consent based on where the recipient is located. You also must ensure that the message content complies with all applicable laws of the jurisdiction in which the message recipient is located or applicable communications industry guidelines or standards. You need to be able to provide proof that you have in place measures to ensure compliance with these restrictions.” 

How to Use SMS for Your Alcohol Brand

Just because alcohol is considered a part of S.H.A.F.T. doesn’t mean your SMS can’t be top shelf. Whether you’re a craft brewer specializing in IPAs, a distiller aging fine bourbon, or a winery bottling the crispest pinot grigio, we’ve got all the compliance and marketing strategies for alcohol brands in one place. By collecting age confirmation in the right places, you can grow your SMS list compliantly and feel confident that you're reaching the right audience in all of your campaigns and SMS marketing efforts.

🍷 Read more about how to use SMS for your alcohol brand here. 

SMS Compliance for Vape and Tobacco Brands

Vape, tobacco, and alcohol brands have very similar age-gating protocols. Unfortunately, S.H.A.F.T. brands selling federally illegal items such as cannabis are NOT allowed to send SMS. Other products such as vapes, other smoking utensils, certain chewables and other vape accessories will be able to leverage SMS with the appropriate age gating in place. This includes asking for birthdate confirmation through the website popups that subscribe a user to an SMS list and also age gating at the original welcome SMS. Here at Voyage SMS, we have you covered on all fronts to make sure you are age gating where necessary to grow your SMS list compliantly for your vape or tobacco brand.

💨 Read more about vape and tobacco SMS compliance and strategy here. 

Compliant SMS for Guns, Firearm Accessories and Ammunition

SMS compliance for firearm accessories and ammunition is crucial in today's highly regulated environment. To maintain compliance, businesses involved in selling firearm accessories and ammunition via SMS must ensure that their marketing and sales practices adhere to all applicable laws, including age gating. At Voyage SMS, we have you locked and loaded with any necessary compliance steps to successfully and compliantly deploy SMS for your firearm accessories and ammunition brands. We always promote adherence to laws and regulations, and our guidelines take a proactive approach that'll safeguard your business and also promote responsible firearm ownership and safety.

In Short: Voyage SMS Has Got You Covered

If SMS is the wild west, Voyage is your trusty partner as you explore the vast potential of SMS e-commerce. Our solutions remain flexible, compliant, and rapidly innovative.

Schedule a demo with Voyage SMS today to learn more about age gating and our many other features and integrations.

Updated October 10, 2023

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