Phone poking out of young woman's back pocket, showing several different payment options onscreen.

More is more: Why multiple payment options work better

Payments used to be dominated by options beginning with the letter c: cash, check, and credit card.

Decades ago, merchants that once only accepted cash had to adapt when customers preferred to pay with new financial instruments—checks and credit cards—that were easier to carry around. Those adaptations included check-validation processes and card-reader devices at the cash register.

Today, the array of payment options is much wider, because customers' payment preferences keep changing. And the necessity for merchants to adapt with them remains the same.

Three different c-words help explain why you should offer multiple payment options now: choice, convenience, and checkout.

Choice

Shoppers like having more choice when it comes to how they pay for purchases. Some of the payment methods gaining in popularity include contactless credit/debit cards, mobile wallets, and buy now, pay later (BNPL). And reasons why shoppers choose these methods can range widely, including safety, budget concerns, or loyalty rewards.

Not many years ago, paying with a wallet app on your phone used to be considered cutting-edge, now it's common. Juniper Research estimates that the number of digital wallet users exceeded 2.6 billion in 2020 and will rise to over 4 billion by 2025. This provides a massive opportunity for merchants to reach consumers who may not have or want credit cards.

Convenience

This ratio says it all: 9 in 10 consumers say that when they interact with a brand online, they want a convenient experience. And convenience is a big factor in determining how shoppers will pay for a purchase.

If you don't offer a customer's preferred payment method, it adds friction to the buying process and could cost you a sale. For example, roughly half of shoppers say they'll take their business elsewhere if a merchant they prefer doesn't offer a BNPL option.

To prevent lost sales, you can remind customers about available payment options throughout the customer journey so they're not surprised when it's time to check out. One easy way to do this is to display the options as part of the product display page (PDP) on your e-commerce site.

Checkout

This is the critical point in the buying journey, where all payment options should be visible. This is also where you want to reduce friction as much as possible for shoppers. Adding a BNPL option like Affirm can help prevent shoppers from ditching at checkout.

When shoppers see the total price tag at checkout, they may be unsure about committing to pay the full price up front. But if they know they can pay in installments on a fixed schedule, as a BNPL option allows, they have more flexibility in managing their personal cash flow and staying on budget. In a recent study of Affirm users, for example, 29% said they would not have completed the purchase if Affirm wasn't available.

Here's another powerful reason to make sure you have a BNPL option at checkout: Businesses that offer BNPL to customers see up to 30% lift in conversion. What's more, Affirm's Adaptive CheckoutTM tailors BNPL options for shoppers so they can choose the terms and payment plan that best fit their budget. Shoppers love the added flexibility, and merchants that implemented Adaptive Checkout—like Whisker and LuisaViaRoma—saw double-digit lifts in conversion.

The benefits of offering BNPL with Affirm also include access to over 27 million addressable shoppers in our network. This access can be a powerful and cost-effective tool for customer acquisition. What's more, the frictionless experience of buying with Affirm could motivate shoppers to return, as our merchant partners see an average 20% repeat purchase rate.

Buy now, pay later is popular with shoppers for a number of reasons, including convenience, flexibility, and transparency. It's also one of the fastest growing e-commerce payment methods today. Adding BNPL to the list of payment options you offer customers is an opportunity you don't want to pass up.

All these payment options bring up another c-word: collect. The payment methods are a collection that will require effort to maintain so that your customers can easily pay however they want. But the work will be worth it once you start to collect incremental revenue, new customers, and more sales.

If you're considering offering a BNPL option to your customers, here are 5 questions to ask that can help determine which provider is right for you. Or visit the Affirm site to learn more about how Affirm can help increase sales for your business.

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