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The Future of Online Shopping Is 'Buy Now, Pay Later'

What entrepreneurs should know about consumer needs and wants.

Silvija Martincevic

The costs of acquiring customers and converting are rising across almost every channel. This is because the competitive landscape is noisy and because consumers have become increasingly intentional about their purchases. Business owners need to think about how to better leverage technology to drive sales and operational efficiencies.

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One such priority focus area is personalization. Use technology to analyze the customer shopping journey. By understanding purchasing decisions, merchants can more precisely target and serve both new and returning customers.

A second is flexibility. Through product features that allow a customer to choose the option that works best for them — from how they receive their purchase to how they return it — merchants can meet customer preferences as they evolve, and in doing so, will build stronger long-lasting relationships.  

Offering modern payment solutions at checkout that both deliver value to consumers and adapt to consumer spending preferences can help businesses increase revenue and sales. It is critical to ensure the payment methods you accept provide transparency, otherwise, merchants risk losing consumer trust. Additionally, providing flexibility — for example, through a variety of payment term options — can ensure business owners are offering the right options for how consumers are looking to budget. 

Affirm is especially important for small businesses — many of which have fallen behind as a result of the pandemic’s uneven impact on retail, and are increasingly looking to technology as a lever to drive growth. "Buy now, pay later" is the fastest-growing payment method for e-commerce. I believe this is driven by the fact that consumers have come to not only prefer but increasingly expect and demand payment flexibility and choice at checkout.

Related: How E-Commerce Is Being Forced to Evolve In a Post-Covid World

We’ve already seen Shop Pay Installments deliver substantial benefits to those using it during early access. One in four merchants experienced 50% higher average order value compared to other payment methods, and checkout abandonment decreased by 28%. 

Don’t assume that everything is going back to how it was prior to the pandemic. Many consumer behaviors have changed over the past year, including how consumers engage with companies and brands and how they prefer to shop. Entrepreneurs should have a clear plan for meeting consumers where they are, especially as it relates to attracting and retaining customers. One of the best ways to do this is by having a pulse on consumers’ preferences and behaviors and leveraging technology to grow. As consumers are presented with more options than ever, businesses need to offer added value that brings customers in the door and gives them a reason to spend.