UK high-street retailers are unquestionably facing wide-spread challenges. Not even the predicted boost thanks to our craze for sales has really helped - footfall declined last month as the January Sales failed to lure shoppers to high streets and shopping centres.
But with the latest sales now dwindling out of sight, retailers need to be thinking about what will capture consumers attention next. A trend we’re seeing that could be the answer is ‘Buy it For Life’ (BIFL), and here’s why.
Living in a society of cheap imported goods, we have become far less inclined to recycle and reuse, when cheap alternatives are so readily available. But this quickly leads to a false economy, and poses the question at what point does it become more cost-effective to switch from buying the cheaper, lower-quality product, to the more expensive but higher-quality alternative that won’t need replacing so soon?
This is not to say that the more expensive item will always last longer – the £1000 designer handbag you treated yourself to might not last longer than your £200 one. But when it comes to your boiler, fridge or mattress, this may well be the case.
For retailers selling high-ticket, quality items, this argument is naturally very beneficial for them. Being able to upsell is crucial for a healthy margin - but persuading the customer to hand over a larger lump sum isn’t always an easy conversation. But what if the retailer could help customers spread the cost of this purchase over a period of months, at no extra cost?
Suddenly that slightly-out-of-reach purchase becomes much more realistic - rather than paying upfront for a £200 dishwasher that will need replacing in a couple of years, they can now buy the better quality £700 dishwasher in £50 monthly instalments that will go on to last for 15+ years. But with so much commerce taking place online, how does this help the struggling high street?
A study published this year by PushOn revealed that 62% of shoppers would rather purchase big-ticket items in-store than online. By understanding this consumer preference, and then implementing an instant finance option into stores, retailers are sure to see an even greater preference to purchase in person, resulting in an uplift in sales in brick-and-mortar shops.
Higher-priced items may often put specific shoppers off from purchasing, but by allowing them to pay in flexible, monthly instalments at 0%, you can expand your customer base, targeting a larger audience who are now able and comfortable to purchase from you. While in-store purchases are critical however, retailers should look to a provider that can offer this across a range of channels – whether that’s online or via mobile, to cater to wherever the customer feels most comfortable in purchasing.
When you consider retailers can boost sales by up to 40% when offering this, offering a flexible finance option to consumers may well ensure the BIFL trend eases the pressure on any retailer looking to boost customer conversion and loyalty.
Christer Holloman is CEO and co-founder of Divido