By Rich Bayer, UK Country Manager at Clearpay
Supply chain management can be a constant challenge for small retailers. Given the ongoing increases in payment wait times facing many independent retailers supplying big firms and marketplaces, it’s important that retailers seek out reputable partners and suppliers who can truly add value to their operations.
Earlier this year, we collaborated with Small Business Britain to examine the 2023 outlook for the UK’s entrepreneurs, with results indicating that just 19% of small businesses have re-examined their supply chains over the last year in an attempt to bring down costs, meaning that, for many, revising these networks offers an untapped opportunity to operate more efficiently.
Players from many industries are looking to go above and beyond for their retail partners, and provide forward-looking solutions to immediate problems.
Take payments and fintech, for example. Many retailers who perhaps once regarded fintech partnerships as an optional extra now see them as integral to their business.
Technology that makes online shopping journeys more efficient for consumers and merchants alike are a win-win. The ideal scenario is that innovative solutions help cater to customer spending preferences, and also ensure funds land swiftly in seller bank accounts.
When fintech offerings are intelligently integrated into marketing strategies and shopping experiences, they can provide a reliable tool for retailers, by generating revenue, creating efficiencies, and supporting growth.
Marketing is essential – here’s how BNPL can help
Now more than ever, businesses need to be able to count on support across a wide range of business functions.
Almost one fifth (17%) of UK small businesses are delaying expansion plans for 2023. Moreover, nearly 40% think that they will have either failed to grow, or actually declined, by the end of 2023.
Some also indicated that marketing budgets had been reduced. Nearly a third (31%) of businesses surveyed confirmed their intention to delay marketing spend this year, and a further 27% have cut it completely.
The concern here is that marketing isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s critical for growth.
However, when budgets are tight, it’s important that retailers adopt solutions that help them connect with key audiences in cost-effective ways.
This is where BNPL providers can help merchants. Customers are increasingly starting their ecommerce journey through shop directories, like those offered by some BNPLs. These far-reaching digital marketplaces help merchants reach brand new audiences in real-time – despite the minimal investment of time and capital required.
Clearpay’s Shop Directory, for example, helps refer more than a million customers globally to retail partners on a daily basis. It raises merchant visibility substantially among digital consumers, and helps them engage new audiences.
What’s more, many BNPL providers boost the impact of these directories even further with brand events. These events can have tangible impacts on retail partners – for example, the most recent “Clearpay Day” promotional event helped increase the number of customers referred to merchants by 31%.
In-store experiences are becoming flexible too
While fintech innovations continue to benefit digital retailers, capabilities developed for ecommerce are expanding onto the high street. Online shopping certainly served as a launchpad for BNPL, but the offering is versatile, and is available in-store.
Consumers are seeking solutions that give them greater control over their budgets and they want access to the same flexibility of payment options whether they’re shopping on their mobile or in-store.
Understandably, this has fuelled the popularity of in-store BNPL, and brands like Jo Malone London, MAC, Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters are just some of the many now catering to the widespread demand to pay in instalments.
It’s crucial that smaller retailers cater to this demand too – indeed, many already have. August marked the first anniversary of Clearpay’s integration with Square, which allows all Square sellers to offer BNPL both online and in store.
Retailers must continue to take advantage of these new capabilities to help them achieve sustained growth. Today’s consumers value convenience and have a clear preference for flexible payments. Those businesses best able to cater to these demands are in a strong position to attract new customers.
As merchants continue to grapple with a tricky economic picture, it’s important that fintech partners continue to help retailers through the ongoing macroeconomic challenges.
The same innovation that has brought retail successfully into the digital age, will help see it through this economic period. Trusted fintech partners and their forward-looking solutions are ready to support retailers looking to unlock new avenues for growth.