Case Study: Deferred Payment Solution Increases Ross-Simons’ Q4 Conversion
Problem: Ross-Simons wanted to make its luxury products more affordable without lowering prices.
Solution: It implemented a deferred billing program.
Results: Conversion rates during seasonal, deferred-billing promotions experienced double-digit increases.
A few years back, Ross-Simons recognized that its customers had limited options when it came time to pay for their purchases. When customers ordered online or over the phone, “it was either take the Ross-Simons credit card or pay with your Visa,” says Larry Davis, the multichannel jewelry, home décor and accessories merchant’s vice president of marketing. “We wanted a more flexible solution.”
Although the Cranston, R.I.-based company had a house credit card, it sought a deferred billing option and implemented I4 Commerce’s Bill Me Later program to make its products more affordable during the holiday season. Davis claims that since the program’s implementation, the company has seen a double-digit increase in conversion rates, with 10 percent of the Ross-Simons’ catalog and Internet sales being conducted with the service.
While Ross-Simons kept its house credit card in place, the company a few years back enacted the Bill Me Later option, which gives customers up to 12 months to pay for a particular purchase, during the fourth-quarter selling season. Then two years ago, the company moved its house credit card to I4 Commerce’s platform.
It took a few weeks to get the product live on the Web site, Davis says. And because so much of Ross-Simons’ business comes in by phone, I4 Commerce sent trainers to the cataloger’s call centers for a day to instruct customer service reps (CSRs) on implementation of the Bill Me Later option. Since it’s essentially a credit product, CSRs were taught how to complete a Bill Me Later application.
Implementation typically takes 60 to 120 man hours, according to Vince Talbert, vice president of marketing at I4 Commerce. The vendor embeds the pay capture platform with the cataloger’s payment processors, so the marketer only needs to add another payment option to its checkout page. Although there’s no software to install, the changes to the merchant’s Web site require a bit of HTML work, he says.
As for how customers interact with the Bill Me Later function, when they complete orders on the Web site, they can select Bill Me Later as a payment option. After a brief questionnaire, customers receive approval or are rejected. On the phone, CSRs complete the application process with customers. Davis says Ross-Simons uses the solution to give customers three, six or 12 months to pay for purchases interest-free. The length of time is pre-determined by Ross-Simons depending on the offer. Customers can make payments during that time, or pay it off all at once.
Ross-Simons pays for the service on a per-use basis. Much like a credit card, I4 Commerce charges a transaction fee on each purchase. Although Davis declined to reveal what Ross-Simons pays, I4 Commerce’s Talbert says the fee can range from 1.5 percent to 1.9 percent, depending on the size of the merchant. Davis notes that the fee is “outweighed by the increase in response we get by offering customers choice, deferred billing and a more palatable, non-interest-earning grace period.”
While Bill Me Later can be in use year-round, Davis says that Ross-Simons only offers it during the holiday season as part of a larger promotional effort. The merchant is testing the possibility of using the product full time. «