BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) is the term used to describe the offer of credit to customers to buy products or services. It used to be offered only by large businesses. Now, a new generation of BNPL service providers are bringing BNPL to SMEs too.
How BNPL works
Merchants can run their own BNPL service in-house. These days, however, even larger merchants tend to prefer to partner with a BNPL service such as ClearPay. These provide a straightforward and convenient route to running a legal and effective service.
How does buy now pay later work? With a BNPL service, simply integrate the service with your existing website payment page or real-world tills. If you are using Square with ClearPay, this is already done for you. The customer is then offered BNPL as part of the standard payment options.
If they accept, they usually pay a deposit. They then sign an agreement to pay the balance in instalments. In the UK, the standard is three instalments, although it is possible to offer BNPL terms of up to a year; this can be useful for very large purchases.
With ClearPay, you get full payment for the goods upfront. This means that, from a cash-flow perspective, offering BNPL is essentially the same as accepting credit cards. From a business perspective, BNPL offers several advantages over credit cards.
Why your business should offer BNPL
Customers who have access to credit can buy whatever they want or need whenever they want or need it. Customers without access to credit have to postpone or abandon purchases. For example, they may choose to lease instead of buy. Alternatively, they may opt for a lower-grade product or service or just ‘make do and mend’ with what they have.
At a minimum, offering BNPL allows you to expand your reach among customers who don’t have credit cards. This may be simply because they do not want them. It can also increase your reach among people who do have credit cards.
This is because BNPL services tend to be interest-free. If the customer opts for a longer payment term, interest is likely to be charged. Even so, it is still likely to cost a lot less than using a credit card for the purchase. This explains why BNPL has become so popular with customers.
BNPL in figures
A study by Bain & Company highlighted the following key facts about BNPL.
In 2020, the UK BNPL market was valued at £6.4 billion. This was 60–70% higher than in 2019. This is about 5% of the ecommerce market.
BNPL is used by about 25% of e-commerce shoppers and 20,000 merchants.
Using BNPL increased basket conversion for 57% of merchants.
Using BNPL increased average order value for 46% of merchants. This increase was 20–30% higher than the increase seen when using credit cards.
Co-branding activities with BNPL services helped 54% of merchants to reach new customers.
How to promote BNPL to your customers
Signing up with a BNPL service is a great start. The next step is to make sure that your customers know that you offer it. You may also need to educate some of them on what BNPL is.
Online website messaging
Ideally, mention your BNPL offering on every page on your website. This means that your customers are guaranteed to learn that you offer it. They can also click to find out more about it if they need to. At a minimum, have information on BNPL on your home page, any specialist landing pages, product pages, checkout and FAQ section.
If you use a chatbot, make sure it can explain BNPL to any customers who don’t know about it. Likewise, if you employ staff for human chat, make sure they’re aware that you’ve added the option to your website.
Social media messaging and promotion
Incorporate your BNPL offering into your standard social media messaging. Adjust the level of prominence according to the content. For example, if you produce educational content, mention your BNPL service in the comments. You could also tag ClearPay so that people can visit their profile if they wish.
If you’re producing more promotional/sales-driven content, highlight your BNPL content. This makes it immediately obvious to potential customers that there’s an easy and convenient way to pay for your products or services.
In-store signage is one of the simplest but most effective ways of letting customers know you offer BNPL. Make sure that there are clear decals on your doors and windows. Have signage in key places throughout the store, then highlight it again on the way to the pay points.
Thanks to GDPR, your email marketing list should only contain customers who have actively opted in to receive marketing emails. This means that these people are likely to be highly engaged with your company.
Learning that you are now offering BNPL is likely to be very exciting news for them. Make it even more exciting by introducing it with a special promotion.
Once you’ve made the initial announcement, keep up the momentum by mentioning your BNPL offer regularly. Again, adjust the level of prominence to suit your overall message. This reminds existing customers of the service and ensures that new ones get to hear about it.
Train your staff to mention BNPL whenever they think it’s appropriate. At a minimum, have them remind customers it’s available if they’re going to make a bigger-ticket purchase. If you work with influencers, or just have relationships with them, ask them to mention it too. Encourage your customers to mention it to their friends. Maybe offer them some incentive for doing so.