by by Richard Barrington, Columnist
The impression a business makes at the point of sale is crucial to a customer's decision whether or not to do business at that establishment. This impression is a function of many things, one of which is the availability of user-friendly retail services such as customer financing.
Any sale involves both creating motivation and removing barriers. The availability of financing can be a powerful tool to do both. It can be considered a last, vital link in the chain of customer marketing efforts.
Value-Added Retail Services
Customer motivation starts with a business' marketing effort--advertising and other programs which raise customer awareness and draw them to the store. That customer marketing effort continues with the point-of-sale image. This image is about more than just appearance. It also depends on the quality of merchandise or services being sold, the friendliness and competence of staff, and any extra services which go along with the sale.
Since customers almost always have alternatives, it is these value-added retail services that can often make the difference in determining who gets the business. Increasingly, even relatively small businesses are turning to customer financing as one of these difference-making retail services.
Customer financing enhances both convenience and customer purchasing power. In short, the ability to offer customer financing can be a source of customer motivation.
Overcoming Barriers with Customer Financing
If customer financing is a source of motivation, it can also overcome a potential barrier to sales. Once a customer is ready to buy, the worst thing that can happen is for anything to disrupt or delay the transaction.
Having customer financing available at the point of sale ensures that cash flow issues will not interfere with a motivated customer. It allows the business to facilitate the transaction--basically, it shortens the distance between decision and implementation.
Types of Customer Financing Services
Naturally, smaller businesses would be hard-pressed to create the infrastructure necessary to support an efficient customer financing operation. For this reason, outsourcing customer financing to a specialized provider is the most viable option.
For example, GE Money, a subsidiary of General Electric Capital Corporation, offers a variety of retail financing services. Examples of services available include customer loans, lines of credit, and store-branded credit cards which encourage customer loyalty. Any or all of these tools can be used to increase motivation and remove barriers at the point of sale.About the Author
Richard Barrington is a freelance writer and novelist who previously spent over twenty years as an investment industry executive.