Switching to a New Payments System Helped This Small Furniture Store Boost Sales

Now they can compete.
Switching to a New Payments System Helped This Small Furniture Store Boost Sales
Image credit: Zohar Lazar
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This story appears in the April 2017 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Outdoor furniture isn’t cheap, and that means big furniture stores have a major advantage over little ones: They’re able to provide no-down-payment financing on sets that can run into several thousands of dollars. Laura and John Merlein, co-owners of Laura’s Home & Patio, in East Northport, N.Y., couldn’t afford to offer something like that -- and as a result, they appeared to be losing customers to the large stores nearby, especially on big-ticket items. “We had a number of customers asking us if we did any kind of financing,” Laura says. 

Related: 25 Payment Tools for Small Businesses, Freelancers and Startups

The fix

John set out to solve their financing issue and discovered Blispay. It allows retailers to offer customers no-interest financing on purchases of more than $199, so long as they’re paid in full in six months. (After that, there’s a 19.99 percent APR.) And Blispay handles basically everything: Setup is free, and it provides in-store sign­age and online banners, charges no fee and even handles the payments. Customers apply for financing (in the form of a Blispay Visa card) via a user-friendly smartphone app.

Related: The 15 Most Popular Online Payment Solutions

The results

Laura’s Home & Patio began offering Blispay last May, and the results were immediate. During the shop’s peak season, customers using Blispay accounted for 13 percent of sales and spent an average of $4,517 -- a whopping 92 percent more than the store’s median patio furniture sale. Take that, big chains! It helps that the application process is fast; approval takes about five minutes. “It’s great that they don’t have to leave the store,” Laura says. “Because if somebody has to leave, they may not come back.”

Related: 6 Ways to Think Outside the Box When Marketing Your Small Business

A second opinion

Blispay’s top competitors are Synchrony, typically for larger physical retailers and Affirm, which is for online stores but is moving into brick-and-mortar. Brendan Miller, an analyst at the market research firm Forrester, says all retailers could benefit from these services -- and not just those with expensive goods. “It could be a fashion retailer selling $200, $300 cocktail dresses,” he says. The best payment processing systems work in-store and (if need be) online, offer quick mobile sign-up and have transparent terms.

Edition: May 2017

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