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'Buy now, pay later': Could it help boost your business?

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Smarter Writer
Smarter Team

A team of business and technology journalists and editors who write to help Australia’s community of small and medium businesses access the technology and know-how that helps solve problems and create opportunities.

Today, the way your customers expect to book and buy online is more diverse than ever. As a small or medium business, this brings a new opportunity to strengthen your online presence by offering flexible transactions – like ‘buy now, pay later’ platforms.

Young man shopping online

The payment options you offer online – and those you don’t – can directly affect whether a customer completes a sale. The Telstra Business Intelligence survey and report on Customer Experience found 17% of consumers would not consider an unfamiliar small business online if their preferred payment method wasn’t offered.

Let’s look into the ‘buy now, pay later’ payment method and whether it’s the right fit for your business.

Reach younger customers with ‘buy now, pay later’

‘Buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) platforms – like Afterpay and Zip Pay – allow consumers to buy and receive their purchase just like they would when shopping with a debit or credit card, but instead the total cost is paid off in instalments.

The Customer Experience survey found that around one in three consumers use BNPL regularly or occasionally. Usage only increases for younger age groups with 50% of Millennials and 42% of Gen Z using BNPL at least sometimes.

“It’s more convenient, especially on bigger purchases, to know I can have [the ‘buy now, pay later’] option rather than having to save, save, save.”

Arthur, consumer

Despite usage rising, only 9% of small businesses currently offer BNPL options to customers. Medium businesses fare slightly better, with 33% surveyed offering this payment method.

Does ‘buy now, pay later’ pay off?

The Customer Experience report found businesses offering BNPL are reaping the rewards. 72% said offering BNPL has encouraged more spending, with 24% saying it has significantly increased sales.

“You have to work out who your target market is. If they’re younger, then they’re probably going to want ‘buy now, pay later’.”

Sam de Bruin, CEO and Founder, Karmic Cold Pressed Juice

After initially founding his business with credit card and PayPal transactions, Sam de Bruin, CEO and founder of Karmic Cold Pressed Juice, received enough customer requests for BNPL that he added it.

In deciding whether to implement BNPL services, Sam found an understanding of his key demographic was vital. With a significant portion of his customers being young women, the addition made sense compared to the potential sales lost from not offering BNPL, even factoring in transaction fees.

As a result of its introduction, BNPL now accounts for 10–15% of Karmic Cold Pressed Juice’s sales.

Will BNPL work for you?

In the Customer Experience report, Katrina Konstas, Sales Director ANZ at Afterpay, says, “Afterpay now accounts for over 15% of all online retail in Australia, and we have over 40,000 active SMBs currently on our platform, so the shift to BNPL is having a significant impact.”

But you don’t have to be an eCommerce business to benefit from BNPL. Offering it for pricier services like car repairs, unexpected dental work, pet care and more can make them more accessible.

Katrina advises that if your target market is 18- to 55-year-olds and you either aim to expand your customer network or you offer big-ticket purchases, BNPL could be a good option for you.

What's next?

Here’s a quick checklist to help you assess whether BNPL could benefit your business.

  • Look at your target audience to see if BNPL would be beneficial.
  • Weigh up the products or services you offer (e.g. big-ticket purchases) against potential gain and factors like transaction fees.
  • Consider the pros and cons of different BNPL options like Afterpay or Zip Pay for your business.
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