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Almost 42,000 SME retailers could be missing out by not capitalising on the rise in consumers spending on finance. That’s according to new research from finance solutions provider Duologi. 

16% of consumers now purchase on finance, rather than credit cards and bank loans, compared to just 6% in 2017, and 83% of said they would consider using point-of-sale (POS) finance in the future, compared to 78% in 2017. 

 The report, Finance: an SME issue, surveyed 500 SMEs retailers about their concerns for the future and their knowledge and understanding of point-of-sale (POS) finance. Duologi found that consumer demand is a clear driver of the technology – 27% of retailers say their customers expect it, and 28% say they have been asked to provide it.

Michael Bevan, CEO at Duologi, spoke to SME Technology Guide about the research.

Why do you think UK SME retailers have been slow to adopt and offer new payment options to shoppers?

“I think SME retailers have a lot to do! We speak to a lot of retailers who have wanted to offer finance for a long time but have had too many other things within their business that have taken priority.

“Competing with the high street and larger online retailers is tough and with minimal staff, finance sometimes gets overlooked. It shouldn’t though, finance is easy to implement and can transform business sales overnight”.

What do you think are the key trends driving retailers to adopt more/additional technology?

“I think it’s both, but probably more consumer pressure. We live in a world where consumers expect everything to happen immediately and want to be able to shop wherever and whenever they want. This has forced retailers of all sizes to adapt and make sure their shop window is in front of their customers, regardless of where they are in the world and what time of day or night it is. Retailers can’t switch off anymore if they’re to succeed in the current climate.”

The research shows that retailers are feeling the pressure to keep up with technology – what do you think is behind this? 

“Technology is moving faster than ever and with it comes large costs and investment on the retailers side. I’d say the online boom has been fantastic for the consumer but very hard on the smaller businesses who are trying to compete for a slice of the pie. Margins are often very low already, but most retailers are doing all that they possibly can to keep pace.”

How would retailers go about implementing PoS finance systems into the checkout process?

“It’s really easy and set up can take place in under 24 hours. We have many modules that simply ‘plug and play’ with their e-commerce shopping cart as well as a full bespoke API guide for the more adventurous retailers, allowing them even more customisation.

“Once set up, finance simply appears as a payment option alongside cards and with decisions in around four seconds, it really is as easy as paying by card.”

What does ROI look like when it comes to PoS finance?

“We often see an uplift in sales of around 30% as well as increased basket values of up to 40% but it is sector dependent and all down to how well the retailer markets finance.

“If customers know about finance as soon as they land on your website and everything is labelled as £x per month, it is much easier for the customer to see how much more they can afford.”

What should financial providers be doing to bridge the trust gap?

“I think providers need to be more transparent, lose the small print and be open. If a customer is going to end up paying interest we are always upfront, and the amount of interest is put in front of them several times. We make sure the customer is fully able to afford what they are applying for, and over 70% of our business is 0% interest, meaning that it’s a great deal for the customer!”

How do retailers ensure the PoS finance process is seamless in their online shopping experience?

“By partnering with a finance provider who value and invests in technology. Our plug-in modules and integrations are simple and totally seamless. It’s just another way to pay!”

With the holiday shopping season coming up, will PoS finance be important to help struggling retailers boost sluggish sales?

“It’s definitely there to help boost sales – we hear from lots of retailers enquiring because they’re losing customers to their competition because they don’t offer finance. Customers are more savvy than ever and having a finance offering, or not, can be the difference between getting that sale and losing it to someone else!”

What should a SME retailer be looking out for in a PoS finance system?

“Something that’s easy to integrate. Something that’s quick and simple for their customers. A partner that will help you sell finance better. PoS finance isn’t just about the system, it’s about the support you get to help you acquire and retain customers for the long term.”