The furniture industry is facing numerous challenges right now, which are having a direct impact on many merchants’ commercial performance. Inflationary pressures, the rapid advancements of tech and e-commerce, and increased competition are just a few. Choosing the right type of checkout finance product and partner can not just mitigate these issues, but enable retailers to thrive. In this blog, we’ll be exploring exactly what furniture merchants should be considering.
Cost-neutral and cost-bearing solutions
As costs have risen for raw materials, manufacturing, and transportation, product profit margins have been squeezed. The fees that a retailer’s partnered lender(s) charges will possibly eat into these margins further.
In layman's terms, the lower the interest rate the higher the subsidy fees that you’ll have to pay. So ideally, your checkout finance partner would enable you to offer interest-bearing credit on those products where margins are small, and interest-free credit on those items with larger margins. This way you can strike the right balance between incentivising customers to spend with you, whilst also protecting your profits.
It’s rare that a solution will have the capability to offer bespoke finance options on certain products. It requires the connected lender(s) to have a range of risk appetites, sophisticated rate card management and for the product itself to have the correct underlying tech.
The operational aspects of your partner’s solution are not something to be passed over. Different lenders and brokers vary in their fulfilment criteria - meaning how and when they’ll pay the merchant. Some are stricter than others, requiring the completion of delivery to the same address used during the application process. While others pay upon confirmation of the loan agreement, and allow customers the flexibility to deliver to a different address.
The latter is not only beneficial from a user experience, but it also improves cash flow - which gives merchants greater autonomy over their commercials.
An omnichannel approach
The modern furniture market is a blend of traditional brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce. Customers may explore items in-store but complete their purchases online, or vice versa. An omnichannel approach to checkout finance is therefore essential. Moreover, any solution you choose should be frictionless across all sales channels. This ensures that your customers have improved affordability and purchase experiences whether they’re shopping in your flagship store or from the comfort of their own home. Happy customers buy more and buy more often.
An important extra to look out for in a partner is one who provides multi-channel support, from comprehensive and high-quality training for your in-store sales team, to live chat functionality for online shoppers. This support will lead to better customer outcomes and save your team valuable time.
Furniture retailers often offer a wide range of products, from budget-friendly lamps to high-end sofas. So it’s crucial you partner with a finance platform that accommodates a range of price points and repayment periods. If the finance you offer is capped at £500, but a lot of your products exceed this price point, then the solution isn’t the right fit. Likewise, if the maximum repayment period is three months, then customers aren't likely to receive the full level of support needed to break up the cost of any large purchases. Your partner may provide this comprehensive coverage with one overarching product, or they may integrate two separate ones into your checkout e.g. an instalment-based Pay Monthly product and a Buy Now Pay Later one.
A fresh approach to explore is multi-lender solutions, which use the principle of waterfall lending to automatically pass on rejected applications to a sub-prime lender whose lending criteria may be better catered to the customer’s financial needs. There’s also crucially no need for customers to complete another application, as their information is safely and automatically passed onto the second lender. This approach not only increases the chances of approval but also demonstrates a commitment to helping customers access the financing they need. Crucially, enhanced approval rates contribute to better sales volumes.
In conclusion, the furniture industry is navigating economic and tech challenges, along with fierce competition. To thrive in this evolving landscape, furniture companies need to adopt smart checkout finance strategies - from protecting their profit margins and their cash flow to offering comprehensive coverage (both basket size and channel-wise). By embracing these strategies, furniture retailers can navigate the complexities of the modern market and optimise their commercial performance.