Apr 20, 2018 – Retailers Also Like Choices
By Kevin Lawrence
Imagine walking into a furniture store and seeing couches available only in beige? Or finding your local jeweler offering watches in one style with the same gold band? That wouldn’t go over well with customers.
Everybody likes choices. Fortunately, retailers provide many options. Don’t like beige for a couch? Then choose white, burgundy, gray or even mellow moss.
When it comes to offering in-store customer credit systems, Versatile Credit offers retailers choices. We know a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for every retailer. That’s why we offer several solutions to meet the specific needs of each store.
Some retailers run the Versatile Credit system on their own in-store computers. Others like the size and portability of a handheld tablet. And our original kiosks – available in either floor-standing or countertop models – are widely used for their ability to attract customers.
Retailers often like the dedicated finance kiosk – or multiple kiosks – which customers can find and use on their own. Tablets are popular with retailers who like the idea of sales associates roaming the store with a credit application system in hand and never needing to leave the point of decision to apply for financing. And still other stores prefer to use their own already existing computers. We have many customers even mix and match a combination of the three choices.
And we provide even more choices with the ability to custom brand the floor-standing kiosks and our Hive counter-top model is offered in just about any color.
But no matter which device retailers choose, the process and results are the same. Consumers still privately enter their data. This takes minutes with limited need for store personnel involvement. Decisions are returned in seconds and denied applications can cascade to second-look or no-credit-required options.
Retailers using the Versatile Credit platform see a 20 percent increase in credit applications and up to 40 percent fewer denials. Customers get the merchandise they want while retailers increase their sales.
Customers want choices. And so do retailers. That’s why we make our system easy, fast, reliable and flexible.
If you want more information on the Versatile Credit choices, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Kevin Lawrence is vice president, sales and marketing for Versatile Credit, the leading provider of in-store, self-service credit application solutions.)
Mar 22, 2018 – Bringing in More Sales with Second Look Financing
By Joe Ferguson
As many as 56% percent of Americans have FICO scores below 700, according to recent data from cited in the Washington Post. When prime financing providers must deny credit to your would-be customers, Fortiva Retail Credit’s second look financing solution approves many of them using a proprietary underwriting system that assesses their ability to repay with data informed by more than 20 years in the retail financing business.
Once a customer is denied prime financing due to credit worthiness, Versatile Credit’s Web Credit Cascade will automatically initiate a second look financing application with Fortiva Retail Credit. Because we instantly approve 30 to 50 percent of applicants who were initially declined by a prime lender, businesses using the revolutionary solution can quickly and significantly increase their revenue with more closed sales.
Because it can take between 7 and 10 years to right the ship on negative credit history, the large population of customers with less-than-prime credit scores includes many viable customers with strong cash flows that may have taken a credit hit several years ago. The “credit-impaired customer” spans all ages and demographics as evidenced by a TransUnion report that points out that nearly half of the highly diverse millennial generation have less than prime credit. This means that, regardless of your business’ core customer-base, second look financing is a necessity to close sales on big-ticket items for a large percentage of would-be customers.
Seamless, Instantaneous Application
Fortiva Retail Credit provides 10-second “instant decisioning” to make the approval process quick and stress-free for applicants, and for businesses using Web Credit Cascade, the instantaneous process is made even more seamless by cutting out the need for a second application entirely. Because the financial information that is entered for the initial credit application is securely “cascaded” down to the second look application without any extra input from the customer or salesperson, the already-quick process becomes even more immediate.
In addition to the speed that the secure integration offers in the second look application process, Web Credit Cascade also ensures a better overall customer experience. In some cases, customers may be reluctant to apply a second time after being declined by a prime financing provider, or sales personnel may be hesitant to even ask the customer for a second application. By cutting out the need for a distinct second look finance form, your sales team can focus on what’s important – ensuring that the customer has a great experience.
By offering second look financing, your business opens the door for a large segment of the population to make purchases they otherwise could not make. In addition to the resulting sales and revenue increases, the customers you help will be grateful for the opportunity to make their much-needed purchases – leading to return business and more referrals. This customer satisfaction is further boosted by the quick and seamless process offered by Fortiva Retail Credit and in conjunction with Versatile Credit’s Web Credit Cascade.
Beyond the customer implications, more sales mean a happier salesforce – especially those who benefit from added commissions. In addition to the inherent value of happy employees, reduced turnover will pay off in the form of reduced recruitment and training costs.
Second look financing helps a massive percentage of the U.S. population make necessary big-ticket purchases. By offering a second look option, businesses are setting themselves up for financial success and a lasting impact on their customers and sales personnel. Still, businesses that offer a top-level provider like Fortiva Retail Credit, especially in conjunction with the Web Credit Cascade, are uniquely positioned for lasting business success.
Joseph Ferguson is the Director of New Business Development at Fortiva Retail Credit, the only second look consumer financing program serviced by a publicly traded company with decades of experience servicing credit-challenged consumers (issued by Mid America Bank and Trust Company). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Aug 7, 2017 – Beating the Desert Heat with More Choices
By Kevin Lawrence
We’ve just completed another successful Vegas Market. Even temperatures of 106 weren’t enough to keep merchants away. I enjoyed hearing from many customers who shared how important our service is to them in growing their businesses. Many were excited to learn about our new Web Credit Cascade option which lets the merchant use Versatile-provided tablets or their own computer for customers applications. It was great to have more options aligned with each merchant’s unique requirements.
Still, kiosks continue to be the preferred option for most retailers. The option to place the kiosk strategically in their store is a great advantage. It frequently becomes a conversation starter with customers inquiring what the kiosks are for.
Tablets are a great option for sales associates to carry with them and provide to customers at the point of decision. Now the customer can sit down on the couch they have chosen to purchase and apply for the credit they need to take it home today.
Merchant computers work great for retailers who want to use computer stations to also process finance applications. This is the most economical option as it doesn’t require any new hardware.
Some merchants opt for a hybrid approach. One merchant who already had kiosks was anxious to also use their own computers. When I asked why, he explained that “Adding our computers allows for more application stations when the kiosk is busy.”
Retailers understand how important it is to offer choices. So do we. Our kiosk and web-based options provide choices, allowing retailers to find the solution that works best for them.
Jun 26, 2017 – Make Music, Not Credit Hassles
By Kevin Lawrence
Here’s a not-too-uncommon music store scenario. A mother comes to the store needing a violin for her daughter who’s joined the school orchestra. Her son wants a new guitar so he can become the next big rock star.
But guitars and violins are major expenses, requiring extra credit for many families.
This is where in-store credit can help close sales. But the traditional paper-and-pen application process discourages many customers and is highly unpopular with store employees. Applications are tedious and require an employee’s help to complete. Denials may leave customers too embarrassed to continue with a purchase.
For the past 10 years, Versatile Credit has offered retailers a better way – self-service kiosks allowing customers to privately complete the application process. Recently, that process was made even easier for music stores with handheld tablets and/or merchant-owned computers augmenting floor-standing and countertop kiosks.
Space is a concern for many retailers, especially music stores. That concern has been eliminated with these new options.
Customers need minutes to complete their application and send it via the Internet to a store’s primary lender. Decisions are typically returned in seconds. Declined applications can cascade to secondary options.
Freed from potential embarrassment, more customers complete applications. The cascade option results in fewer denials. And that means more sales. Other benefits: store employees are largely removed from the credit process and there’s no need to secure or destroy paper applications.
The Versatile Credit system has been proven in thousands of North American retail locations, where credit applications are up 20 percent, denials are reduced by 40 percent and the average approval amount is $4,000. Since 2007, Versatile Credit has facilitated more than $16 billion in approved credit.
The time is right to offer your customers a better credit experience.
Jun 5, 2017 – New In-Store Credit Application Options on Display at JCK
By Kevin Lawrence
Customers wanting fine jewelry often need extra credit to complete a purchase. The problem for jewelry stores and other retailers is connecting consumers and lenders in a quick and convenient credit application process. More than 10 years ago, Versatile Credit created a reliable solution using floor-standing and tabletop kiosk-based systems.
But kiosks don’t always fit well for retail jewelers and others stores where counter and floor space are at a premium. So, Versatile Credit continues to revolutionize the industry with the introduction of handheld tablets and merchant-owned, web-enabled computers offering the same easy, in-store credit application process.
Consumers still privately enter their data into one of the devices. The process takes minutes with limited need for involvement of store personnel. Decisions are returned in seconds and denied applications can cascade to second-look or no-credit-required options.
Retailers using the Versatile Credit system see a 20 percent increase in credit applications and up to 40 percent fewer denials. Customers get the merchandise they want and retailers increase their sales.
The new service options provide choices. Retailers can now use the kiosks, tablets or computers — or a combination of all three — to best meet their specific needs.
All three Versatile Credit application process options will be demonstrated at JCK Las Vegas, June 5-8 in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. Stop by booth L-100, belonging to one of our leading financial partners — Synchrony Financial, to see them in use.
Mar 20, 2017 – Tire Pros Offers Customers a Private, Convenient Credit Application Process
By Kevin Lawrence
Buying new tires isn’t always a planned expense. When the tires are worn on your vehicle most people can’t wait to replace them. That may mean borrowing money to get back on the road. So, tire shop owners know it’s important to provide customers with a convenient and confidential way to get the credit they need, when they need it.
Tire Pros, the nation’s largest network of elite, independent and locally-owned tire dealers now have a way to do just that. We just attended the retailer’s national convention in New Orleans where we met with more than 80 tire shop owners and demonstrated our in-store credit solution. Our platform allows shop owners to direct customers to one of our kiosks located in the shop. The customer privately fills out the requested information and it’s sent to our lender partners. Within minutes the customer can complete the approval process and continue on with the purchase.
Shop owners don’t have to work with the customer to fill out the credit application. This is particularly important to Tire Pros’ locally based owners. They live and work in their communities. When neighbors and friends come in to buy tires they don’t want to be put in the position of asking personal and potentially embarrassing questions about finances.
You can image the conversation before Versatile Credit:
“Hey Jim, great to see you. How’s your family doing? Now let’s talk about those tires you need for your SUV. Yeah, I know they’re expensive, but we have a great financing program you might be interested in.”
The shop owner then asks Jim awkward personal information and enters it into a decision portal. If he’s approved the experience was a little awkward. If he’s declined the experience becomes very uncomfortable for everyone.
The Tire Pro shop owners we talked with were excited to have a self-service solution they can offer customers. It’s a win-win-win situation where the customer, shop owner and lender all come out ahead. The customers maintain privacy, get the financing they need and their cars back on the road. And the shop owners gets the sale and a happy, loyal customer.
Feb 22, 2017 – Zibby now available to Versatile Credit Cascade Customers
By Kevin Lawrence
A point of sale, lease to own payment solution for online and in- store shopping. Zibby’s 30 second no credit required lease purchase option currently serves the 46% of the US population who desire a flexible monthly payment option for durable goods. Zibby integrates seamlessly with retailers online and in-store to allow retailers to grow sales and delight customers in any channel.
Feb 8, 2017 – 2017 Looks Promising for Big Ticket Retailers
By Kevin Lawrence
Many signs point to 2017 being a good year for big-ticket retailers. The economy continues to grow, unemployment is down and the stock market is flirting with all-time highs.
There are plenty of big sale “holidays” on the calendar. Manufacturers and designers are offering promotional pricing and some primary lenders are offering consumers zero percent introductory financing.
Early this year, Versatile Credit announced it enabled nearly $400 million in credit during the 2016 holiday shopping season, Nov. 25 through Dec. 31 – a 55 percent increase over the previous year.
That’s all good news.
But today’s consumer profile is changing. Millennials, who grew up around computers and smart devices, are now the largest group of adult shoppers. Most have done their homework on the Internet before entering a storefront. They know what products interest them, maybe even down to the exact color, fabric, pattern or features. And, of course, they know how much their purchase should cost. Armed with that knowledge, they aren’t looking to shop. They’re in the store to buy. Any delays in the process may cause them to rethink their decisions.
Successful retailers will have sufficient inventory or rapid access to more esoteric items. There will be adequate sales associates on the floor to facilitate purchases. And big ticket retailers — those selling furniture, flooring, mattresses, jewelry, automotive services and high-end electronics — will offer credit solutions that fit today’s consumers. That demands an in-store credit system that’s quick, easy, private and offers solutions for the overwhelming majority of shoppers.
Surprisingly, some retailers still use pen-and-paper credit applications. These are tedious, require excessive personal data, remove a sales associate from the floor and may takes hours or days to receive a lender decision. A denial usually ends any hope of making a sale and developing a loyal customer.
Versatile Credit’s kiosk-based solution remedies the above problems. A touchscreen application takes minutes to complete. The process is private with no need to involve sales associates. Decisions are returned in seconds. Denials by primary lenders can cascade to secondary lenders and even to no-credit-required options.
Most retailers using the system report more than 70 percent of credit applicants are approved by a primary or secondary lender. Those denied typically qualify for a no-credit-required program. That final option is valuable for many consumers, particularly younger shoppers, who may be financing for the first time.
Retailers report the Versatile Credit solution increases applications by 20 percent, approvals by 40 percent with a 30 percent increase in credit sales.
I know I’m very optimistic about 2017, especially for those retailers meeting the needs of their shoppers – from the right inventory, promotions, staff and credit options to generate and complete a sale.
Jan 5, 2017 – Connecting Customers with Lenders
By Kevin Lawrence
Retailers work hard to attract customers with special promotions, in-store displays and highly trained sales associates. But the effort can be wasted if customers aren’t offered a simple and convenient credit process allowing them to purchase big-ticket items.
Since credit sales can make a significant difference in a retailer’s profitability most big-ticket retailers give customer credit a top priority. Success is often determined by the method chosen to link lenders and customers.
An effective credit program must be quick and easy. It should be private to encourage customers to share sensitive data. Applications should take minutes to complete, with approvals provided in seconds. There should be alternatives if a primary lender denies the application. And no data should be left behind for retailers to dispose of or to protect and store.
The traditional pen-and-paper application process offers none of the above benefits. Applications are tedious and approvals could take hours, even days. The required participation of store personnel eliminates customer privacy. Finally, the retailer is left with paperwork needing protection.
Moving it all to a store computer simply replaced the pen with a keyboard.
But technology has made it easy to connect customers and lenders. And store personnel can finally say goodbye to processing applications. Today, there’s an Internet-connected, customer facing solution offering all of the attributes of an effective credit process that works for retailers, their customers and lenders.
Here’s a look at that solution:
Privacy – The process is self-service. In the past, many customers passed on credit fearing for the safety of their personnel data or embarrassment if their application was denied. With the self-service process, store employees don’t see what customers enter or if the application is denied.
Speed – An application takes just a few minutes to complete, requiring only basic personal information. Seconds later, the store’s primary lender returns an approval or denial. Approvals also include the amount of provided credit making it easier for the customer and sales associates to focus on price-appropriate merchandise. Customers often leave the store with their merchandise.
No store involvement – Using this solution, stores no longer process applications. Sales associates can spend their time assisting other customers. And with no paper work or data stored, there is nothing for retailers to worry about.
Second chance – This is an extra, but very important feature of the solution. If the primary lender denies an application, it can be sent automatically to secondary lenders. There may even be a third opportunity with applications also sent to no-credit-required lenders for review.
The results speak for themselves. Retailers using this solution report a 20 percent increase in credit applications, a 40 percent increase in approvals and increases of 15 percent or more in transaction size.
Providing a viable option for customers to get the credit they need makes sense for any big-ticket retailer. But what criteria should be used to make a choice?
Judge the solution provider by its lending partners, both the number and quality. Ask to see the names of current retail users and markets served. Make sure the provider has been in business for more than a few years. And find out how much credit the provider’s solution has enabled.
The right credit solution increases sales, builds customer loyalty and develops relationships with leading lenders.
(Kevin Lawrence is vice president, sales and marketing for Versatile Credit, the leading provider of in-store, self-service credit application solutions.)
Nov 21, 2016 – Best practices: Using the Versatile Credit Kiosk for Digital Marketing
By Kevin Lawrence
The Versatile Credit solution is great for providing shoppers the credit they need for making big-ticket purchases. Since 2007, our systems have facilitated $16 billion in consumer credit. That success sometimes makes it easy to overlook the kiosks’ ability to display stunning visual content supporting brand messages and sales. Of course, that’s when customers aren’t completing credit applications.
One Western U.S. retailer uses the kiosks to reinforce the theme of outdoor living with videos showing people enjoying backyard furniture, barbeques and related products. The display can be changed to mirror store promotions or other messages encouraging more purchases and credit applications.
Information about high-value extended warranties is displayed as customers of a mattress retailer complete their credit applications. When the kiosks aren’t in use, they show videos of how top-line store products are made.
A Midwestern furniture chain doesn’t have room in its stores to display all the items it can offer for sale. The kiosk acts as an electronic catalog showcasing other available designs fabrics and colors.
These best practices help Versatile Credit’s retail customers take fuller advantage of the system’s software and hardware. And the Versatile Credit team is ready to help our customers design custom videos, picture galleries and other messages.
It just one more way of making sure you get the most from your investment in the Versatile Credit system.
Kevin Lawrence is vice president, marketing & sales for Versatile Credit
Oct 31, 2016 – Smart Sales and Lease becomes newest Versatile Credit finance partner
By Kevin Lawrence
We are pleased to announce that Smart Sales and Lease will now be available to retailers on the Versatile Credit platform.
About Smart Sales and Lease:
Founded in 2001, Smart Sales and Lease pioneered the virtual lease category by offering the lowest consumer costs including 90 days, rebuilding credit (Equifax) and over servicing the retailer at the point of sale. We are the only lease company that can offer you a true waterfall process in which your customer is not required to input additional information in order to receive an instant decision. Your retail associates will love our lower consumer costs, retailer support and ease of application process.
Oct 17, 2016 – Best practices: Placing the Versatile Credit Kiosk
By Kevin Lawrence
The thing I enjoy most about my job is talking to retailers using the Versatile Credit solution. We are fortunate to work with retailers in most big ticket market segments and in every state and Canada. While different in market focus and geography, I find commonality in how they make the most of their Versatile Credit solution. And I’m happy to share some of their best practices here.
One question that I’m often asked is where the Versatile Credit kiosk should be placed in a store. Here’s what some of the most successful users have told me.
• Place the kiosk about a third of the way into the store. That gives a sales associate time to greet a customer at the door, determine what they’re shopping for and if they will be needing credit. As they walk and talk, the kiosk will be there for those wanting to complete a credit application.
• Don’t place it near a point-of-sale terminal or in other high traffic areas such as just inside the main entry. Customers like the privacy the self-service kiosk offers. Customers may not feel comfortable if they feel someone could be looking over their shoulder.
Those are just a couple of ideas I’ve heard from retailers. If you have thoughts about getting the most from your Versatile Credit system, please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org. I may share your thoughts in a future blog.
Kevin Lawrence is vice president, marketing & sales for Versatile Credit
Oct 5, 2016 – Give your customers the credit they deserve
By Kevin Lawrence
With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, now’s the time for retailers to ensure their customers get the credit they deserve to make large purchases. And Versatile Credit will help with its own holiday sale.
We’ll waive the $99 activation fee and take 50 percent off your first month’s service fee if you email me, email@example.com, or call 717-620-2567 by Oct. 14.
In return you’ll have the Versatile Credit Cascade solution designed to overcome the challenges with today’s retailer-initiated application processes. With Versatile, the customer can apply directly and maintain control of their personal information. Retailers are freed from the time required to process applications and the awkward decline discussion.
The results speak for themselves. Versatile Credit:
• Increases credit applications by 20 percent.
• Reduces credit denials by 40 percent.
• Delivers $4,000 per approved application.
• Increases each credit sale by up to 30 percent.
With Versatile’s Credit Cascade, customers denied by primary lenders can choose to send their applications to secondary lenders and rent-to-own options.
It’s all about providing more applications, more approvals and more sales.
Aug 3, 2016 – Mattress Retailer Turns to Versatile Credits In-Store, Cloud-Based System
By Kevin Lawrence
Big ticket merchants are leading a revolution in retail credit that improves the process for both their customers and sales associates. Gone are the days of tedious paper documents and lengthy approval times. Today, in-store credit is all about offering access to leading finance providers through a cloud-based system promoting privacy, security, speed, ease-of-use and increased approval rates.
One West Coast mattress chain has found the solution that works for its stores. On a recent afternoon, a man entered one of the outlets looking for a new mattress. When he asked about credit a sales associate led him to a Versatile Credit floor-standing kiosk. The associate then turned his attention to assisting other customers.
Over the next two minutes the man followed the intuitive prompts on the kiosk’s touchscreen to enter basic information such as his name, address, social security number and address before tapping an icon sending the data via a secure network to the retailer’s prime financing partner.
Literally within seconds the kiosk printed a ticket indicating if the application had been approved and for what amount. If not approved, the application could “cascade” to a near prime finance company. If necessary, it would be presented to a no credit required option.
According to one chain official, the solution from Versatile Credit offers customers convenience and privacy, frees store personnel from application processing and leaves no sensitive paperwork or data to be filed or destroyed. The retailer completed phasing the system into all stores this spring.
“The results have been great,” he said. “Based on last month’s report, our approval rates have nearly doubled in some stores. That translates into more credit, more purchases, more profits and more loyal customers.”
The official said about 70 percent of applicants are approved by the retailer’s prime lender. Very few customers fail to qualify for at least one credit option, but those who don’t are spared the embarrassment of a sales associate informing them they were declined.
Once approved, customers can show the confirmation ticket and two valid forms of identification to a sales associate to make an immediate purchase.
Versatile Credit can even work with retailers to customize kiosks with product videos, picture and other media to help generate customer interest and drive sales. The retailer will soon add an icon providing information on extended warranty programs. Also, a recently completed video showing how a memory foam bedding line manufactures its products will be looped on the kiosk to provide more information about a top-line product.
The chain’s near-prime lender first suggested the Versatile Credit systems as a way to speed and increase credit approvals – retailers using the system across North America report an average 20 percent increase in applications with approvals averaging $4,600. The mattress retailer’s official went to a nearby furniture chain store using the system for a demonstration. He liked what he saw and his chain soon began phasing in the kiosks.
The plug-and-play systems were set up and running the same day they arrived. Kiosks are available in floor-standing models, as this retailer chose, along with table-top units in a variety of colors to meet virtually any show floor environment.
The system operates over each store’s network. No customer credit data is maintained by the kiosks. Online software updates are made overnight while the stores are closed.
Since 2007, consumer applications using the Versatile Credit system have resulted in more than $14 billion in approved credit.
The mattress chain official said his chain operates a highly competitive market requiring constant reviews of promotions and technology to stay on top.
“Our Versatile Credit system helps us provide the financing our customers want and need,” he said. “And we get a painless application process that help us create more sales and profit. Everyone wins.”
(Kevin Lawrence is vice president, sales and marketing for Versatile Credit, the leading provider of in-store, self-service credit application solutions. For more information about Versatile Credit, please visit the website https://www.versatilecredit.com/ )
Jul 17, 2015 – The retail credit process: There has to be a better way
One of the struggles retailers face is providing customers with access to easy, convenient credit options. Having store personnel involved in the process of entering customer applicant information can keep them from supporting other customers for 20 minutes or more. Further, the application process can result in a negative customer experience if the customer is declined. These reasons make some employees uncomfortable and unwilling to proactively offer credit.
Customers can be equally disillusioned with the process. Do I really want to fill out an application and hand my personal information over to someone I don’t know? Worse yet, do I want to hand that information over to my neighbor who happens to work there? Add to that the customers who are interested, but feel their credit is marginal and don’t want to take the chance that they will be declined.
There has to be a better way.
Retailers are excited by a self-service solution featuring a waterfall or cascade in which customers declined for credit by the prime lender elect to have their information passed down to a sub-prime and even a no-credit-required option. A self-service kiosk is a great solution to this problem.
Consumers are invited to interact with the kiosk display by rotating images and video. When the screen is not busy processing a credit application it can be programmed to announce promotions and sales. It can also be the repository for product information and videos. Special order inventory is accessible by the touch of a button. How-to videos and product spec sheets are displayed in brilliant high definition.
This results in a win-win-win. Employees are more productive and focused on selling. Customers are more inclined to apply for credit because they feel the kiosk is more secure and they are less concerned about the potential of being declined by a machine than a person. Retailers win in big way. Those deploying these solutions typically experience an increase of 20 percent in applications, a 40 percent increase in approvals and a 30 percent increase in credit sales.
There is a better way to process and provide customers with retail credit. And it already working in thousands of storefronts across North America.
Jun 15, 2015 – As recently appeared in Furniture World
Advantages Of Self-Service Kiosks For Furniture Financing
By Kevin Lawrence
For years big-ticket retailers dedicated employees to lengthy, often error-prone, paper-and-ink based customer credit application routines too often resulting in embarrassing declines that cost retailers potential sales. Fewer customers even applied and many stores did little to sell the option.
To top it off, retailers also had to maintain customer privacy by securely protecting the application data. The process offered many downsides with too few benefits.
But today, many furniture and mattress retailers are increasing sales through the use of an in-store credit solution that makes it much easier for shoppers to get the credit they deserve.
A self-service, kiosk-based system linking consumers with multiple lenders reverses the traditional credit process in which shoppers selected goods then filled out applications with store personnel hoping to qualify for the necessary credit.
The kiosk system puts the horse in front of the cart. Many stores locate kiosks immediately inside the entry, where shoppers needing credit can begin the short application process by entering data via a touchscreen. Within seconds they know if they’ve been approved and for how much so they can shop within that price range. Thisprivate process removes the embarrassment factor from denials – an event possibly keeping customers from returning.
Customers show a greater willingness to share personal data with a faceless kiosk. They also benefit from the system’s waterfall option. If the primary lender denies the application, the kiosk can be configured to automatically pass the information to a sub prime lender. It can even be configured for with a no credit check rent/lease-to-own option. More lending opportunities lead to more approvals.
Retailers using this process report a 20 percent increase in credit applications, a 40 percent increase in approvals and increases of 15 percent or more in transaction size.
One east coast-based furniture retailer offering kiosk-based credit applications said, “Customers might be looking for a $1,500 table and chair. But when they find out they’ve got a $5,000 line of credit, you have the ability to sell them a bit more. And that happens quite a lot.”
That same retailer estimated his system returned a credit approval rate in the high 80percent range, with customers using the system spending 30 percent more than those paying with cash or other credit cards. While those numbers may be a bit higher than average, it demonstrates how effective the self-service kiosk approach can be.
Self service. Privacy. Rapid decisions. No embarrassment. Higher approval rates. There’s nothing for shoppers not to like.
Since most customers use the kiosks on their own, sales associates are removed from the credit application business, letting them focus on what they do best — spending time helping customers with purchasing decisions.
Another west coast furniture retailer said before adopting a kiosk-based system in 2009, his financed business represented about eight percent of his stores’ sales. Today, that average is 11 percent — and as high as 20 percent in some locations.
“That’s an important increase as our average ticket is about $800 more when we utilize our financing program,” he said. “Every customer approved for credit provides us withmore opportunities to sell.”
Retailers never see their customers’ sensitive financial information. And with no data stored on the kiosks, there is nothing for retailers to protect.
The systems are plug-and-play and are up and running the day they arrive. Kiosks are available in floor-standing, tabletop and compact models and in a choice of colors to fit any retail environment.
Retailers can also use the systems to access reports and analytics to track kiosk and credit usage across all of their lending partners. As an added benefit, the systems have companion digital signage to direct customers to the kiosks, as well as provide visuals to support the retailer’s brand, product and promotional messaging.
More applications. More approvals. Larger transactions. No security issues. Out of the credit process. There’s nothing for a retailer not to like.
About Kevin Lawrence: Kevin Lawrence is vice president, sales and marketing for Versatile Credit, the leading provider of in-store, self-service credit application solutions.
Apr 8, 2015 – If you are not offering waterfall financing you are losing sales!
Furniture Today recently conducted a Finance Workshop with panelists from AcceptanceNOW, Crest Financial and Progressive Leasing discussing the criticality of multi-tier financing options. In summary, one out of three customers do not meet the standards form prime financing. Waterfall financing allows you to increase your conversation rate, create more tickets and increase the total transaction value.
Read more at http://www.furnituretoday.com/article/518412-third-tier-options-first-choice-some-consumers
Feb 2, 2015 – In-Store Credit Kiosks Increase La-Z-Boy Sales
Integrated Solutions For Retailers (www.retailsolutionsonline.com) recently carried an interview with Northern Chair/La-Z-Boy’s Troy Kvingedal. Troy runs eight Northern Chair (operating as La-Z-Boy Home Furnishings & Décor) stores in California with two more locations opening soon. In this discussion, Troy discusses the positive impact the Versatile Credit kiosk has had in his stores.
Lender-approved customer credit allows customers to increase spending. How do your La-Z-Boy stores leverage this option on a regular basis?
We know that the average ticket is higher on financed purchases. So we actively promote special 36-month financing options around holidays such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Columbus Day. This gives our customers the comfort of easily managed payments and, of course, helps them to fill their room with a complete La-Z-Boy set of furniture and accessories.
We promote our financing options in print and broadcast ads and ask our sales associates to offer financing when they feel it’s appropriate. Also, our lender, Synchrony Financial (formerly GE Capital), provides us with tabletop signage urging customers to “Ask Us About Our Financing.” And the Versatile Credit kiosk is located prominently on a track that runs around each store. Customers can’t miss it.
We were in the heart of the recent recession when we first started using the Versatile system in 2009. Credit was much tougher to come by, as was traffic to our stores. When we adopted the kiosks financed business represented eight percent of our retail volume. Today that average is 11 percent – in some stores it’s as high as 20 percent. That’s an important increase as our average ticket is about $800 more when we utilize our financing program. Every customer approved for credit provides us with more opportunities to sell.
How has the credit application turnkey solutions helped enhance the customer experience?
Three words – convenience, privacy and efficiency – describe our credit experience.
It’s convenient as customers can apply for credit at any time during their furniture-shopping experience. About 80 percent of our customers use the kiosk on their own without a recommendation from a sales associate. Customers asking about financing are guided to the kiosk.
The process is private. Our customers enter their information into the kiosk without any store personnel involvement. Also, the customer is the only one who knows if an application is denied – although that doesn’t happen often. We have an average credit approval rate of 83 percent.
And it’s a very efficient process. The kiosk alleviates some of the data entry chores that everyone is accustomed as part of filling out a finance application. An application takes only a few minutes to complete – all on a touch screen – and a decision is returned usually within 10 seconds. It’s a very simple process.
We can tell just how popular the system is when one of our Internet connections crashes. Our sales associates get immediate complaints and we know that we risk losing sales until the connection is restored. Otherwise, we’ve had no negative customer feedback on the system.
Since our sales associates have been removed from the credit application process, they have more time to spend with customers helping them to select the merchandise they want. Also, our staff has nothing to do with operating the credit system. It’s plug-and-play to get started and then it just works.
Jan 21, 2015 – Secondary Lender Credit Drives More Purchases
Retailers understand that attracting consumers into the store is only the first step towards closing a sale. Removing obstacles that prevent consumers from making a purchase is a vital step especially in larger ticket stores and access to credit is one of the biggest obstacles.
Credit helps bridge many customers who are eager to buy into a position to make a purchase and make it immediately. It also enables customers to make larger purchases typically between 15% and 30% larger based on feedback Versatile Credit has received from a number of its retail customers.
Most retailers have a relationship with a primary credit lender who is able to provide credit to a majority of customers applying. Unfortunately, there are still a large number of potential customers who are declined credit and end up leaving the store without having made a purchase, up to 50% of applicants in some retail segments and geographies. This obviously impacts the retail bottom line and leaves a negative consumer opinion of the retailer.
This is where secondary lenders are able to generate tremendous value. Secondary lender credit requirements are often more flexible and they often offer a number of alternative programs and plans. Versatile Credit experience indicates that adding a secondary lender typically enables retailers to eliminate up to 50% of their credit declines and tap into a significant additional revenue stream. More credit generates more sales which also leads to higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Versatile Credit supports a large number of national and regional secondary lending providers. Our Waterfall application process takes the information that a consumer has already entered into the kiosk for a primary application and when declined, with customer permission, uses it to populate the secondary lender’s application. Although some additional questions may be presented if required, the Waterfall saves the consumer time, reduces frustration and maintains a high quality user experience. The Versatile Credit Waterfall gives retailers the option to support multiple lenders and let customer applications flow through until successful.
Great American Finance Co. (GAFCo) is a long time secondary lending partner of Versatile Credit and has been offering retail financing for 83 years. The partnership has generated impressive results with a 10 to 20% increase in application counts originated in same store locations using Versatile’s kiosk over paper and electronic application processes. Importantly, 9 out of 10 credit approvals GAFCo issues are converted into a first sale that then drives repeat purchase rates in excess of 30%.
Todd Aaron from GAFCo attributes this increase to “the self-service and privacy efficiencies promoted by the kiosk. The numbers suggest customers prefer the streamline of the application information cascading from a single application process whereas retailers prefer giving customers a self-service channel for inputting their confidential information.”
A nationwide furniture retailer is seeing the dual benefits of Versatile self-service kiosk and GAFCo’s secondary lending capability. In the 12 months through October 2014 more than 20% of applicants for credit were rejected by the store’s primary lender. Versatile’s waterfall process quickly allowed these consumers to apply with GAFCo, be approved and to go on to make purchases. These additional customers contributed millions of dollars in additional revenue that could instead have walked away.
Bringing together the benefits of a private and secure credit application experience and a seamless transition to secondary lenders increases sales. This makes Versatile Credit the perfect solution for retailers across a wide range of markets with customers needing additional credit to make large purchases, from furniture and flooring to electronics, jewelry and automotive services.
Jan 13, 2015 – 18% Growth in Holiday Shopping Approved Consumer Credit
At Versatile Credit we are constantly monitoring the performance of our service. Comparing year on year numbers from the recent holiday period has provided some very impressive results. Between November 29 and January 5, nearly $255m in approved consumer credit was enabled by our kiosks. This is an 18% increase over the corresponding holiday period a year ago. Consumers completed nearly 74,000 applications and 71% of these were approved with an average credit approval of $4,851.
We will work throughout the year with our partners to improve the Versatile Credit experience for consumers and target further growth for our customers.
Dec 4, 2014 – Furniture Today highlights recent lender partnerships
Furniture Today is the complete information source for the furniture industry featuring retailer and manufacturer news, plus project trends and market analysis. This week’s issue includes an article on some of our recent lender partnerships and how providing flexible credit options helps to drive sales.
Please visit http://www.furnituretoday.com/article/494008-versatile-credit-adds-three-options-portfolio to learn more.
Nov 6, 2014 – Floor Covering Weekly features retail credit
Floor Covering Weekly (FCW) is the go-to-publication for the retail flooring industry. As well as covering all types of flooring, FCW features items on industry and retail news and trends.
In this week’s issue, FCW carries a special piece called “Credit: A Tool For Growth”. With a focus on how retail credit impacts a store’s revenue, the article features an interview with Versatile Credit’s EVP of Product & Marketing, Rob Meyer.
Please visit http://www.floorcoveringweekly.com/Main/DailyUpdate/7342.aspx to read more on how our self-service in-store kiosks enable fast, private and secure applications for credit, helping flooring retailers to be more successful.
Oct 21, 2014 – Fortiva | YBUY add to lending options available on Versatile Credit
Fortiva | YBUY are the latest lending solutions to join Versatile Credit. Available separately or together, Fortiva YBUY bring a new range of secondary credit and lease-to-own option to retailers.
Fortiva utilises a proprietary credit model which pulls from multiple data sources and maximizes approvals for customers that have been rejected by a primary lender. For customers who are unable to satisfy the requirements of secondary lenders, YBUY provides simple to use and explain lease-to-own products that can tailored to the retailer’s requirements.
Versatile Credit takes the out-dated and invasive process of applying for credit in a retail store and replaces it with a private and secure credit application experience that customers love. By offering a range of high quality lending options and a new approach to consumer applications, Versatile Credit is helping store owners to grow their businesses.
Sep 30, 2014 – AcceptanceNOW joins our ecosystem
We are very pleased to announce that AcceptanceNow has joined the Versatile Credit ecosystem. AcceptanceNow offers flexible rent-to-own agreements to consumers and extends the purchase options available on our credit kiosks. Versatile and AcceptanceNOW are continuing to work to together on innovative consumer experiences.
Providing retailers with multiple lending options is a key benefit of our solution. Our unique waterfall process seamlessly allows a consumer’s application to flow from primary to secondary to non-credit alternative payment provider. Consumers with more options are less likely to be denied credit and more likely to close a sale.
The Versatile Credit waterfall has helped lenders offer more than $8B in credit to consumers through Versatile Credit kiosks.
Sep 16, 2014 – Welcome to Genesis Credit
We are very pleased to announce that Genesis Credit, powered by Genesis Financial Services has joined the Versatile Credit ecosystem. Genesis has provided consumer financing options for retailers who want to service more customers and grow sales by offering affordable consumer credit.
Versatile Credit and Genesis Financial Solutions have a shared goal of delivering the best possible customer experience to drive retail success and loyalty.
Retailers using the Versatile Credit solution typically see a 20 percent rise in credit applications with an increase in retail transaction size of over 15 percent. The application process using a Versatile Credit in-store kiosk is private, secure, quick and easy to complete. Credit decisions are returned in seconds. Since 2007, consumer applications using the Versatile Credit ecosystem have resulted in more than $7 billion in approved credit.