Like many merchants, you’ve probably invested heavily in your brand identity.
Everything from your carefully-chosen colour palette to your unique tone of voice has been designed to help your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace.
But all of this effort (not to mention investment) could be undermined by your checkout finance programme. If your business uses a third-party platform to offer consumers the chance to “Buy Now, Pay Later” or “Pay in instalments”, your checkout may look crowded with other companies’ logos.
Worse, the association people have with these providers may be at odds with your own brand identity. If you are a high-premium retailer but offer the kind of credit people usually associate with low-cost stores, your partnerships may be undermining your reputation.
Furthermore, when a consumer goes through the application process, they’ll typically do so on the lender’s platform. At that point, they’re no longer being exposed to your lovely brand – and as such, you miss a valuable opportunity to build trust and strengthen your relationship with the consumer.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. You have the power to take control of your checkout finance journey and use it to strengthen your brand. Here are three ways to make your checkout finance experience feel uniquely yours.
1. Choose a whitelabel platform
The first and most impactful tip is to choose a whitelabel platform like Divido.
With a whitelabel platform, you can do two essential things that will help to strengthen your brand while still offering checkout finance.
The first is that you will be able to offer finance under your own brand name. For instance, Joe Bloggs Ltd. would be able to offer “Joe Bloggs Finance” at the point of sale. Naturally, the loan would be underwritten by a third party lender, whom your consumer would be connected to via the whitelabel platform, but you would seem to be the party that facilitated this connection.
Which leads to the second advantage. This is that you would be able to brand the finance journey in the style of your own visual identity. While your consumer is filling in details such as their address and employment history, your brand logo would remain at the top of the page, and you will have the ability to tailor the copy and visual look-and-feel of the journey your way.
Why is this important? For one thing, it can help your brand to continue to strengthen its relationship with the consumer even while they are moving through their checkout finance journey. This could help your consumer to feel more secure about choosing to pay in instalments – if they already trust your brand, they are more likely to assume your financing option is trustworthy too.
For another, with a whitelabel programme, you may benefit from better access to data and analytics, since the journey will be owned by your brand. This can help you understand your consumer behaviour better, giving you the opportunity to factor checkout finance into your wider marketing and sales strategies.
And finally, it offers the opportunity for you to include interest-free credit within your wider sphere of finance options. For instance, if your business offers such financing options as store cards, loyalty schemes and memberships, you can add checkout finance as one more option. This opens the door to co-marketing opportunities, helping your consumers to find the best finance option to suit their needs.
2. Communicate checkout finance through the line
Many businesses offer checkout finance, but not all of them advertise the fact.
For those that don’t, the consumer will usually stumble upon a “Buy Now, Pay Later” or “Pay in instalments” button at the checkout. If they already trust the brand offering the finance product, they may be tempted to choose it. But this misses the opportunity for the merchant to extract several of the key benefits of checkout finance, which they could have experienced along the way.
These include higher average transaction value, increased basket size and lower rates of abandonment.
However, were your brand to advertise its financing options sooner in the consumer journey, and to repeat these messages throughout the length of the journey, it could not only help to derive the maximum benefit from its programme, but also to establish much more control over the messaging around these products.
The best way to achieve this is to be consistent across all marketing and communications channels. It is not enough to simply advertise checkout finance on your website or via email – the message must also extend through advertising, social media, in sales brochures, in-store point-of-sale marketing, and so on.
In this way, your business can start to integrate financing within its brand. Rather than appearing as a third party who partners with your company to offer its own solution, it can appear to the consumer as if your brand controls the relationship. And indeed, this whole process will help to build trust and normalise the concept of Buying Now, Paying Later.
And on that note – there is indeed one way you can go even further…
3. Become your own lender
A more extreme, but arguably the most effective way to take control of your checkout finance programme is to lend from your own balance sheet – and to make yours the only form of credit offered at your checkout.
This cuts out the middleman (in this case, the lender) and ensures your consumer remains within the remit of your brand throughout not only the span of their purchasing journey, but also throughout the course of their repayments.
The benefits of this course of action include: being able to stay in touch and build your relationship with your consumer while they are paying off their loan; having complete control of the situation in case anything goes wrong; and, avoiding ‘muddying the water’ by adding a third-party to the mix.
Offering your own checkout finance can also become a gateway to co-marketing opportunities. If your consumer is happy to shop with your checkout finance option, they may also be inclined to start a membership or take out a store card. Retail finance has shown to be effective in increasing rates of repeat business, so a finance consumer today may become a loyal consumer for life down the line.
However, this strategy naturally comes with risks. Chief among these is of course the fact that your business will need to have a mature approach to risk. Should the consumer miss a payment or default on the loan, your organisation will need to have an effective – and, more importantly, regulation-compliant – strategy to recover these costs. Remember that, in situations like these, your brand’s reputation will be on the line. If you pursue the consumer too aggressively, it may put them off ever shopping with you again.
This is not a decision any business should jump into, especially if they lack the cash reserves necessary to become their own lender. There is also the issue of regulation to consider. From 2023, businesses in the UK offering Buy Now, Pay Later and Short-term Interest-free Credit will become regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, with the Financial Ombudsman acting as a point of escalation.
As such, any business hoping to lend from its own balance sheet for the purposes of retail finance will need to ensure they are fully-compliant with regulation. Don’t be fooled into thinking this will happen overnight.
Furthermore, the retailer in this equation will still need a way to facilitate the loan on behalf of their consumers. When new regulation takes effect in 2023, this process will likely include running a hard credit check on consumers and reporting details of the loan to credit reference agencies. The most common solution in this circumstance is an online platform that conveys a consumer through their retail finance journey, and retailers have two choices when it comes to acquiring such a platform: buy it, or build it.
There is much more that could be said about this course of action, as it is by far the most significant. However, if your brand truly believes in the future of retail finance, and wants to ensure complete control over the process – and if you have the resources available to make it happen – then perhaps it’s time to follow in the footsteps of dozens of retailers who have already taken this path.
The bottom line: don’t be passenger
Your retail finance programme is yours to own, but it’s up to you to take control.
By staying on top of your platform, your communications and perhaps even your lending, you can ensure that your retail finance programme not only supports your brand, but becomes an integral part of your brand-building exercise.
Ultimately, one of the best ways to achieve this is to choose a whitelabel retail finance platform such as Divido. With a whitelabel platform, you can tailor your retail finance programme exactly the way you want, while also benefiting from high-quality data and analytics that will help to grow your whole retail business.
Want to learn more? Speak to Divido today about our whitelabel checkout finance platform.