Choosing the Best Customer-Centric Financing Options for Your Company

Offering financing options to your customers allows them to plan for their purchase and take on the cost of your product a little at a time.

Studies show that most Americans aren’t in a position to take on a surprise $500 expense in an emergency. And if that’s the case, imagine how few consumers are likely to make impulse purchases at or near $500. Offering financing options to your customers allows them to plan for their purchase and take on the cost of your product a little at a time. And it works — evidence shows that offering to finance can increase customer spending. But with so many different consumer financing options on the table, how do you know which ones to offer?

The Most Common Financing Options

Financing is like a payment plan for your customers. Although you receive the money upfront, they only have to pay a little at a time. It’s a win-win scenario. There are two different ways to offer customer-centric financing options. One way is to collect your customers’ credit information yourself, lend them the money out of your business’s funds, and allow them to repay over time. However, this can be problematic because it forces you to lend money to your customers and chase that money down if it doesn’t get paid on time. You’ll also have to deal with the usury and debt collection laws in your state. You will also need your own in-house loan office to make this work.

The more popular option is to sign up with a third-party lender. You can evaluate countless lenders and decide on the one — or ones — you’re willing to use with your customers. Each loan company has its own policies on the minimum amount your customers have to spend, repayment schedules, interest rates, and any fees the company may charge your business.

Factors When Choosing the Best Options for Your Brand

With so many business financing options on the market, it can be difficult to narrow your choices down. Several factors should be considered when deciding.

Customer Demographics

If your customers are low-income, very young, or very old, they may not have good credit. In these cases, you’ll want to prioritize lenders that are willing to work with customers who have low credit scores. On the other hand, if you work with Fortune 500 companies, credit probably might not be an issue for you. In this case, you can work with lenders that have a high credit threshold.

product offerings

The next thing you’ll want to consider is what products you offer and what products customers will ask to finance. Some lenders have a minimum spending threshold. If they won’t lend to customers who spend under $1,000 and your products are all in the $500 range, your financing options won’t help customers who purchase fewer than two items. Look at the average amount of money customers spend with you at a time, and use that average to help determine what minimum your customers who finance should be held to (if any). Then, make your choice accordingly.

customer preference

If you have an established business, you may be able to survey your existing customers to see which lenders they have a good history with. Sometimes, customer preferences can help you to identify factors that you may not have otherwise considered.

Pros and Cons of Offering Multiple Financing Options

Of course, you can offer multiple financing choices to your customers. This may be important if you sell both; directly to consumers (B2C) and directly to businesses (B2B). But before you sign up for ten different financing options and let your customers decide which one they want to use, you’ll want to weigh the pros and cons of offering multiple options.

Offering One Financing Option

Pros

One upside to offering a single financing option is that your staff can become experts at that option and its rules. It’s also relatively easy to advertise one financing plan on your website, either at the checkout screen or beforehand. This helps reduce sticker shock by letting customers know they can choose to finance their purchases.

Cons

The biggest downside with offering one financing choice is that if a customer doesn’t get approved for financing, there’s no recourse to help them out.

Offering Multiple Financing Options

Pros

The advantage of offering multiple financing options is that it can benefit different types of buyers. Customers with good credit can use low-interest financing options, while those with low credit scores can still find a way to finance their purchases. This approach is also useful if you work with individual customers — who make relatively small purchases — as well as businesses that may put together larger orders. You can offer different financing options based on their estimated spending total.

Cons

The biggest drawback to this method is that it could lead to decision paralysis — which happens when people have too many choices, or the choices they have are too complicated. When this happens, people tend to procrastinate on making any decision. By offering multiple financing options, you could turn your customers away from using any financing at all. Another downside is that your customers may get declined for one financing option and then apply for another. While this could allow them to get approved with one of your suggested lenders, it also means multiple credit checks in a short period of time, which can have negative ramifications for your customers.

Skeps Turns Financing on Its Head

Choosing a good, customer-centric financing option to offer through your business can be a headache. But Skeps turns that process upside down. Working with the top lenders, Skeps can help your customers find the best lender for them with a single application and credit check. The only thing your brand needs to keep track of is how easy it is to work with Skeps.

To learn more about how we can eliminate decision paralysis for you and your customers, contact us today. 

Tips To Decrease Cart Abandonment At Checkout

Decrease Cart Abandonment – There are many things that merchants can do to reduce friction/cart abandonment at checkout. Read on to know a few methods.

In the days when brick and mortar was everything, no one worried about how to decrease cart abandonment. All it took was a committed salesperson to ask if a customer was ready to check out, take their cash or card, and process the transaction before the buyer had a chance to change their mind.

That doesn’t work in e-commerce. Your customers are essentially on their own to add products to their carts and make the commitment to click “Checkout.”

That may be part of why the average cart abandonment rate today is 69.8%. You read that right — more than two out of every three shoppers leave the checkout page before making a purchase.

You can retain many of these customers just by simplifying your checkout page. You’d be amazed how a few tweaks can make everything flow more smoothly, appeasing the wary customer and guiding them to purchase — almost as if you were holding their hand.

Simplify Your Checkout

When was the last time you looked closely at your checkout page? Take a moment and create a fake order, then look at it as a customer might. Ask yourself:

  1. ‌How many steps does it take to check out?
  2. ‌How many buttons does the customer have to click?
  3. ‌How many separate fields are there for add-ons, financing, bonus activation, etc.?

‌The more clicking a customer has to do before making a purchase, the more likely they are to abandon. You can significantly reduce friction at checkout by getting rid of all those extra buttons — and there are probably more of those than you think

Consider retail giant Amazon. It had so much success simplifying its checkout that in 2017, it had to refund $70 million for purchases children made without permission.

Amazon is still known for its ease of ordering. Even if you don’t use the Buy Now one-click feature, you can still have your product on its way in seconds. How close can you get to that level of simplicity?

Reduce Your Load Time

Bounce rates soar whenever a customer has to wait more than two or three seconds. You want your e-commerce site to be at the low end of that scale.

Simplifying your checkout page is one of the easiest ways to decrease load time. Use a one-page checkout if possible. This might mean minimizing the amount of customer data you ask for, and that’s okay. You’ll still retain more customers because you’ve reduced friction at the cart.

Other effective redesign techniques include:

  1. ‌Minimizing image sizes
  2. ‌Using social sharing buttons instead of plugins
  3. ‌Limiting or eliminating redirects to other pages

‌These simple technical interventions can decrease cart abandonment. If they’re not enough, ask your web design team about coding adjustments.

Keep Customers on the Cart Page

Eliminating redirects does more than just increase page speed — it also keeps your customers in their carts.  

Imagine having to leave a physical store to visit an ATM. If you didn’t need your purchases urgently, you might be tempted to just go home. But this isn’t just a brick-and-mortar problem.

If you have third-party Buy Now, Pay Later options or co-branded payment cards that take consumers off your site, you’re essentially sending them to an ATM on the other side of the mall. 

When a shopper clicks on a financing link, they suddenly have a new website to navigate and multiple fields to fill out. Plus, they stop seeing the products they were excited about purchasing. The motivation is out of sight and sometimes out of mind, so it’s easy to click away.

You can break this cycle by keeping all of your financing options on the same page. And the simpler those options are, the better. 

Simplify Financing Options

According to Forrester, offering financing to customers can increase order value by 15% and boost incremental sales by 17%. And when you add pre-approved financing to the mix, you can increase customer conversion by 44%.

The key is to make the application process simple enough that you don’t scare people away. Applications for consumer financing can be unnecessarily lengthy, reminding people of buying a car or taking out a loan.

Consumer financing should be much simpler than either of those things. With a company like Skeps, you can add a single, consumer-friendly application that qualifies buyers for multiple financing options — from installment payments to co-branded cards.

A simple application with multiple options reduces the frustration of financing for you and your customers. Shoppers are much less likely to get all the way to checkout only to find that a third-party lender has declined their financing application.

Skeps allows you to offer financing from several different lenders all at once. If one option doesn’t work for a consumer, another might. The shopper doesn’t have to fill out a second application to find out. 

Display Offers Sooner

Shoppers often get all the way to the checkout page without realizing that financing options are available. Seeing one can be a relief, especially for a big-ticket purchase, but it can also be jarring.

That’s why Skeps offers instant financing to simplify this process and decrease cart abandonment. It lets you display financing offers when shoppers log in. This removes a barrier to purchase immediately for some buyers and decreases cart abandonment in advance. The customer goes all the way to purchase with their new payment plan instead of adding an item to their cart and then leaving it behind because they can’t afford it.

Additionally, displaying finance offers at login makes checkout easier and quicker. The buyer doesn’t have to stop to apply for financing or choose an offer — they’ve already done it. They may even spend more because they can finance.

The Power of a Simple Checkout

Convenience is a powerful motivator, especially in the world of online shopping. Your shoppers do enough mental work to get themselves and their shopping carts to the checkout page. 

The easier that page is to navigate, the more you can decrease cart abandonment. Think of simplification and easy financing options as the electronic version of a helpful store associate, guiding a customer to checkout. 

You don’t have to choose between convenience and multiple financing options anymore. With Skeps’ intuitive platform, you can have both — with a side of top-notch customer satisfaction.

An Interview – The Role of FinTech In The Post-COVID World

FinTech leader, Suraj Nagaraj talks about the all-pervasive and ever-growing FinTech landscape, and its impact in the post-COVID world.

FinTech leader, Suraj Nagaraj talks about the all-pervasive and ever-growing FinTech landscape, and its impact on the post-Covid world.

Suraj - Fintech Leader

With over 17 years of experience, Suraj has built his career by exploring payments and FinTech businesses through transformational growth and change. A leader in the industry, Suraj has expertise in product management, bringing innovative products to life, and fostering unparalleled customer experiences.

Now Senior Product Leader at Borough Box, Suraj, spoke with Skeps on the state of the FinTech industry, its importance in the post-COVID world, and how it can help the world adapt in the current situation.

What was the FinTech sector like before the COVID-19 crisis?

In absolute terms, I would have expected the situation to be different because of the pandemic causing havoc, however not surprised to draw a fair conclusion that the sector was already going through some challenges for early-stage ventures in the space. The lack of clarity in business models and overlapping value propositions had made it difficult for investors to identify profitable businesses to invest in. For late-stage organizations across the different parts of the landscape, such as Insurtech & Proptech, to name a few, seemed to be bullish during the later part of 2019 going into Q1 2020.  

What is the state of FinTech in a post-COVID world? What is the impact of COVID-19 on this sector?

The COVID-19 pandemic can be positioned as a disruptor of the disruptors. It is a short-lived problem that has enabled the acceleration of digital transformation across many industries. Yes, the sectors such as travel, leisure, and hospitality are operating in crisis mode, but it can only be seen as an opportunity for structuring more sustainable product offerings. The concept of sharing the pie has started to go out of vogue. The short-term effects will look more disastrous in some pandemic limiting areas where businesses such as the bed and breakfasts, holiday retreats, cinema halls, and restaurants will have to find new ways of engaging with customers. The long terms effects, however, must rely on modified consumer behavior where a large percentage of them have adopted online methods mostly. Broadly classifying this, e-commerce is on the up and goes without explanation – auto insurance or online auto insurance will be on the down-low, and surprisingly traditional investments into life insurance will likely be on the rise for obvious reasons. Similarly, the cash-rich banks will remain sustainable and ride the wave a lot more smoothly than the challenger banks who tend to generate revenue mostly from debit swipes.

How has the COVID-19 crisis increased the need for digital lending platforms and platforms offering POS financing?

Digital lending is definitely going to see some uptick and will mostly benefit organizations that are hard hit because of the pandemic in the short term. In the long run, it will become a thing of the day to adapt to trending consumer behavior, as mentioned previously. My personal experience with HDFC Bank in India, for example, is quite pleasing and shocking at the same time as I was able to apply for loans online using email communications and other media so, the approval came through in a short span of time. The disappointment struck when it came down to disbursement of the funds itself, where I had to send all the physical forms out by post along with legally attested KYC forms, which made things complicated. There will surely be a drive to digitally disrupt this space and adopt speedier mechanisms to capture leads along the way. As far as POS goes, I am quite undecided about how this space will change the leverage for POS solutions to lock in customers will be simple things like 0 percent interest payments over a set time period or buy not pay later schemes and the likes. All of this obviously relies on regulations, risk profiling, and more complex user journeys. Will the numerous payment solution providers invest in the space, or will they go for third-party integrations to let go of some of their profit margins; I cannot say for sure?  

How is the FinTech industry adapting to the needs of current borrowers?

If we look deeper into the lending space, a large set of customer requests tend to be for relief funds, small business loans, or more ground level reality problems like payroll protection. The challenge will come down to meeting the transaction volume to keep existing customers happy. Cash strapped FinTechs will not like the sound of an unhappy customer leaving because their imminent problems were not catered to. There are other forms of lending, such as insurance, where the underwriting mechanisms have been tightened with more attention being paid to the risk profile of borrowers. The positive side of things, however, looks quite promising where some longer-term players such as Paypal, Square, and Stripe have provided fee waivers, reduction in subscription fees for short term success, free onboarding, and payroll processing, to name a few in order to retain customers and witness growth.  

How are they planning to serve the needs of future borrowers?

Future borrowers are definitely going to be risk-averse, so the customer experience is going to play a vital role in pushing that customer over the edge. The digital experience will begin to define everything, in my opinion. The more digitally savvy you are as an organization, the easier it will get to generate leads and see positive churn in the business. To avoid existential crises, organizations are looking at partnering with solutions and capabilities that are outside of pure lending only in order to cater to that end to end one-stop-shop customer need. Take the example of challenger bank Revolut, I was one of their first batch of invite-only customers, and now I have moved on to using their investment platform. It has transformed my life in a meaningful way so, I can do quite a few things all in one place and all on my mobile. I am now planning to move my business banking to Revolut as well. I think this will become the trend and it’s here to stay for a long time.  

Please share in brief about the industries and technologies that will shape the post-virus world.

  • E-commerce is definitely a big winner.
  • Payroll protection and in general payroll processing experience for contract workers or daily wage earners.
  • Robo advisors and IoT capabilities for insurance and investment purposes in general.
  • Real estate and customer borrowing are for sure going to see a decline, or rather consolidate in the long run.

How Skeps as a FinTech startup can make an impact in the post-COVID world?

The Skeps value proposition resonates with every retailer, big and small. As someone operating in the e-commerce/fintech space, I think it is a great way to make the borrowing experience a lot more personal. The concept of “Loans for everyone” is appropriate in this day and age where personalization is the key. The ability to make the entire process leaner and a one-stop-shop is a great way to empower borrowers with timely support. On the lender front, the platform amplifies the effect by helping digitally savvy lenders reach out to end customers who may not be as enabled. So, the ecosystem is deeply woven into the system not just for providing loans but to be an equally accountable part of the ecosystem and stay through that cycle of growth.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely the interviewee’s and do not imply the views or opinions of his employer.

Deploying Blockchain Applications with Docker

Docker provides great support in quickly getting a blockchain node up and running without the need to individually configure each machine separately.

Docker provides great support in quickly getting a blockchain node up and running without the need to individually configure each machine separately.

Blockchain and Docker are technical innovations with tremendous potential in developing and maintaining application software.

Blockchain refers to a type of database architecture in which data is stored in a distributed fashion on a decentralized system of nodes. Blockchain is a revolutionary technology because it helps to decrease financial data leak risk, curtails fraudulent transactions, and increases transparency in a scalable way.

Docker is an open-source software for deployment and development of applications within containers. These containers allow developers to emulate applications regardless of the technical environment.

Simply put — it is Build, Ship and Run any application, anywhere.

This post is an attempt to explore docker and its application for blockchain technology. We sincerely hope this piece provides a basic understanding of the usage and merits of these emerging technologies.

A real-time challenge and a possible solution

In an organization, development and operations teams function in separate environments. The code/software application which works fine in the developer’s machine might not behave similarly in the operations machine due to varied configuration, version & build difference of the supporting software, etc.

In such a scenario, the docker container provides a possible solution by packaging everything required to make the software run.

Docker enables you to build a container image which when run becomes a Container. The users can utilize this image across different release and development phases which would help to standardize the environment.

Container image can be distributed among team members or an organization multiple times to ensure that the environment is constant and behaves the same to better anticipate, identify and resolve the issues.

The image can also be pushed to docker Hub (https://hub.docker.com/) and pulled back as per the requirement (Anytime-Anywhere)

Technicalities – How does docker work?

Docker has three important components

  1. Docker file
  2. Docker Image
  3. Docker Container

Docker file contains the specifications (code, runtime, system tools, system libraries, and settings) required for the container.

A docker container image is a lightweight, standalone, executable package of software that includes code and necessary information/specifications needed to run an application.

A container is a standard unit of software that packages the code and all its dependencies, so the application runs quickly and reliably from one computing environment to another. Container images become containers at runtime.

Dockerizing Process

Let’s get started! Installing docker

Docker can be installed on a Linux Ubuntu machine by using the following commands. The following commands have been arranged such that it can be copied in a shell script and executed directly. (Reference*)

sudo apt-get install \
apt-transport-https \
ca-certificates \curl \
gnupg-agent \
software-properties-common
curl -fsSL https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu/gpg | sudo apt-key add
sudo apt-key fingerprint 0EBFCD88
sudo add-apt-repository \
“deb [arch=amd64] https://download.docker.com/linux/ubuntu \
$(lsb_release -cs) \
stable”
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install docker-ce docker-ce-cli containerd.io

Congratulations! You have successfully installed a docker. You can test the installation by typing $ sudo docker -v which would give an output of the version of the docker.

Creating a docker file and building it

  • Create a dockerfile
    Pulling a tomcat image to exemplify.
FROM tomcat:8.5.45-jdk8-openjdk
EXPOSE 8080
CMD [“catalina.sh”, “run”]
  • Create an Image
$docker build -t <name>

Check the list of images created

$ docker image ls
  • Convert Image to Container
$ docker run -p <port Number>:<port number> <Container Name><Image Name>
  • Check the list of containers running
$ docker container ps

Dealing with backup and Data Recovery

All looks fine as of now! You might be wondering what happens to the data in case of a container crash. Fortunately, docker provides a mount option where data can be saved in either volumes or bind mounts. Bind mounts are dependent on the directory structure of the host machine whereas volumes are completely managed by the docker.

  • Create a Volume
$ docker volume create volumename

The volume name is provided while running the image to a container.

$ docker run -d name=containername mount source=volumename,destination=path imagename
  • Check Logs

You can also check logs of your container by

$ docker logs –f containername
  • Pushing an image to Docker Hub

Login to Docker Hub

$ docker login

Execute the command to push

$ docker push repository-name/imagename

Frequently used docker container commands at a glance

$ docker start containername
$ docker stop containername
$ docker restart containername
$ docker inspect containername
$ docker exec -it containername /bin/bash
$ docker commit containername newimagename
$ docker save containername > containername.tar
$ docker load — input containername.tar
$ docker logs -f containername

Docker repository push commands

$ docker pull repositoryname/imagename
$ docker push repositoryname/imagename

Deploying Blockchain using docker Hub

Given the nascent nature of the blockchain ecosystem, scaling up a blockchain network in an enterprise environment can be challenging. This is where docker provides great support in quickly getting a blockchain node up and running without the need to individually configure each machine separately.

Docker Hub provides images for all major enterprise blockchain networks:

These images are a great starting point and can take away a lot of effort required for setting up the blockchain network. At the same time, building your blockchain network using docker ensures that the system can be easily scaled up or down without the usual headaches of managing a blockchain.

In a nutshell, docker is a free open source that facilitates faster software delivery and ensures consistency among different environments. Thus, saving time, effort and money. What can be more wonderful than this!

Skeps is working on some ground-breaking technology to make a dent in the financial services industry. To know more about the product we are developing, please visit our homepage.

/ * Reference — https://docs.docker.com/install/ */

Effective Financing Increases Approval Rates to 80%

Customer satisfaction rate rises to 50% for ABC Home Renovation

Customer satisfaction rate rises to 50% for ABC Home Renovation

ABC Home Renovation is a leading financing platform helping Americans with home renovation and improvement services. The tech-enabled brand also provides contractors essential tools to thrive in their business. Currently, the company serves 86% of the Americans, empowering homeowners by providing a single place to find a contractor, finance their project, and get support throughout the home improvement process. The brand is committed to working with contractors and manufacturers, to make it easier for homeowners to upgrade their properties.

To meet its financing needs, ABC Home Renovation implemented Skeps’ financing solution which helps the merchant to offer multiple financing options to its customers. Discover how Skeps helped ABC Home Renovation deliver an impeccable customer experience and make a difference in their checkout journey.