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Buy Now, Pay Later: How the pandemic is changing behaviors

The eCommerce industry around the world is currently undergoing a massive transformation since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen an increase in the rate of digitization of many economies around the world, with customers being forced to switch to online shopping. One consumer online shopping behavior that is getting more and more traction globally is the use of the Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) payment method.

If you have ever shopped online, you have probably seen the option to “buy now and pay later”, an option that is often facilitated by several key market players like Afterpay, Zippay, VISA, Sezzle, Affirm, Paypal, Splitit, Latitude Financial Services, Klarna, Flexigroup, Openpay, Clearpay or Laybuy. The BNPL scheme allows consumers to purchase goods on credit and pay for them after a set interest-free period, or in instalments; which is also known as store finance. Some agreements will let consumers pay for their purchases after a set period of time, while others will let them pay in installments.

This type of finance has existed for years, but has increased in popularity in recent months in many countries, following a surge in adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic, financial uncertainty and the fact that retailers are offering this option more often. The global BNPL market was valued at $7b in 2019 and is expected to reach $33b by 2027.

In Southeast Asia, the BNPL trend is gaining popularity and is attracting investments. Cashalo, an online lending firm, received $20M and is expanding BNPL offering in the Philippines in order to compete with the local competition. Still in the Philippines, a fintech startup called Plentina just raised $2.2M in seed funding, leveraging the BNPL trend with installment loans that can be used and repaid through e-wallets. The BNPL payment method is also becoming popular across APAC by enabling consumers to defer payments and access credit, which is acclaimed by Gen Z and millennial shoppers. However, this surge in adoption is not only happening in developed countries. In fact, according to this analysis, the Buy Now Pay Later option of paying for goods in installments grew 215% year over year in the first two months of 2021 in the United States. Having more financial flexibility at the checkout also means that online shoppers are willing to spend more, which leads to higher average order volumes for online merchants. In fact, online consumers using this service are placing orders that are 18% larger than orders placed with other payment methods. To date, nearly 40% of U.S. consumers between 18 and 54 have used a BNPL service, according to research by The Ascent.

As we know, the payment methods available in the eCommerce checkout have a direct impact on conversions and revenue. With the BNPL payment method experiencing tremendous growth in customer adoption, it is not surprising that interest among eCommerce websites is rising. However, there are some benefits and risks to take into account when implementing the BNPL payment option. We have compiled a few things you should know as an online merchant before you take the plunge.

Benefits:

  • Offers a way for consumers to break-up purchases into manageable interest-free installments, unlike on a traditional credit card.
  • Opportunity for merchants to optimize conversion rates and increase sales.
  • Potential for higher purchases (increasing average order volumes - AOV).
  • Key selling point to attract Gen Z and millennial shoppers.
  • The BNPL provider assumes the risk of nonpayment.

Risks:

  • More beneficial with high value purchases than low value ones.
  • A/B test the payment method so you make sure not to confuse consumers.
  • Make sure your sales funnel is clear so you consumers don’t resent you along the way. For consumers, missing a payment can result in costly fees or interest rates higher than those a typical credit card carries.

At Softline Ecommerce, our all-in-one ecommerce solution makes cross-border digital sales locally optimized, easy and safe. It has never been so simple to reach new customers and grow your business in emerging markets. So, if you want to see what we can do together, don’t hesitate to contact us on our website, via Linkedin or email (ecommerce@softline.com)

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