Entering 2021, businesses across all industries found themselves still facing numerous challenges: from limiting customer capacity to enduring changes in consumer spending, or rather, lack of spending.
This summer, businesses across the country have finally begun to operate in ways that remind us of a time before the COVID-19 pandemic. The circumstances of the pandemic, however, resulted in rapid advancement in the digitization of various business procedures, which has benefited both businesses and their customers.
In this article, we’ll be exploring four of the top business and payment plan trends that you should be incorporating today.
1. Digital Access and Payments
Even before COVID-19 made us all wary of what we touch, cash usage was already on the decline due to the ease of contactless, digital payments. According to Bloomberg, approximately 27% of U.S businesses surveyed say they had an increase of contactless payments just one month into the pandemic.
This shift towards digital payments is expected to continue, with about 74% of global consumers saying that they will continue to use contactless payment methods even after the pandemic is over. With such a large percentage of consumers supporting digital payments, businesses will need to continue to provide their customers with various payment options in order to maintain their customer satisfaction.
Digital payments also provide additional benefits besides simply giving customers different payment options. On top of being a convenient way to pay, going digital also helps your business become more efficient by eliminating tedious, manual processes with the help of electronic payments.
When your competition is just a click away, any unnecessary friction caused by inefficient digital payment processes can cost your business revenue and customer loyalty. Businesses looking to optimize their customer’s experience should audit their current payment processes and develop solutions to effectively improve the experience for themselves and their customers.
The easier you make the checkout process for your customers, the happier they will be. When your customers are happy, they’ll be more inclined to spend more than planned and will be more likely to return again in the future.
2. Accessible Payment Plans and Buy-Now-Pay-Later Options
Customer payment plans and deferred payments have been increasing in popularity since 2019. In 2020, when payment plans were tight, more and more businesses transitioned to buy-now-pay-later payment methods to increase the purchasing power of their customers.
According to a Forrester webinar, 26% of U.S retailers surveyed offered some sort of deferred payment method—by December, however, that number had increased to 46%.
It’s no secret that customers love to save money. While payment plans don’t necessarily mean discounts, the fact that monthly payments are significantly less than an associated total balance is often enough to draw in more customers who want to purchase big-ticket items, but lack the immediate funds to do so.
By offering customer payment plans, you’re making otherwise costly purchases accessible, which will increase the number of customers that can afford them. When your business doesn’t offer payment plans, it doesn’t get the chance to offer its products and services to a larger population group, which keeps business stagnant.
Customer payment plans provide your businesses with a stable, predictable stream of monthly revenue, and the more customers you get started on a payment plan, the more monthly payments you’ll receive—which will help your business grow.
According to Afterpay, businesses on average experience a 20 to 30 percent increase in their conversion rates once they begin offering payment plans.
3. Increased Shift Towards Technology
The pandemic forced businesses of all sorts to reimagine what their new day-to-day operations would be. Being constricted by various regulations and mandates, businesses that primarily met their customers face-to-face had to quickly shift their operations online, if even possible.
When looking at the healthcare industry, for example, the sudden change of regulations forced healthcare providers to expand their ability to meet with patients by transitioning online.
At the start of the pandemic, many individuals with ongoing health issues put off seeking routine care due to concerns over being exposed to COVID-19 at their local healthcare center. These concerns coupled with the reduced availability of healthcare services caused by capacity regulations encouraged the increased usage of telehealth services.
Ideal during a pandemic, telehealth technology enables healthcare providers to communicate with their patients in a distanced manner. Coupled with remote monitoring technology, such as wearable tech that can measure heart rate, blood pressure, and more, healthcare providers have the ability to fully monitor their patients with applicable data without ever being in the same room.
Prior to the start of the pandemic, the telehealth market was forecasted to reach $53 billion by 2026. With the acceleration of consumer and provider adoption of telehealth, however, McKinsey & Company has estimated that upwards of the $250 billion of the current healthcare spend could be virtualized.
4. Automated Accounts Receivable
If your business is still relying on manual processes when it comes to billing and accounts receivable, then it isn’t operating as efficiently as it could be. Technological advancements have made simplifying and even automating, various accounting tasks easier than ever before.
In a traditional accounting system, invoices and payment reminders must be sent manually to your customers. Utilizing automation software allows your business to migrate its invoicing efforts into digital practices. By removing the manual processes of your accounts receivable, your employees can then spend their time on more important management tasks rather than badgering your customers to make their payments.
Automated accounts receivable and billing also help your business get paid faster. Electronic invoices rely on electronic payments, meaning your business will no longer need to wait for payment checks to come in the mail and be processed. Through simplifying your processes and improving your payment systems, your business not only creates a more predictable cash flow process but also improves the day-to-day of your accounting department.
When your business collects its debt slowly, it can eventually snowball into an unfavorable amount of bad debt that could force your company to take on loans. For businesses of all sizes, this can easily turn into a downward spiral. Automated processes help to eliminate this risk, and help your employees stay ahead of collections, ultimately keeping your company’s cash flow as consistent as could be.
The trends highlighted in this article range across payment plans, technological, and regulatory considerations that have been, and will continue, to be affected by the ongoing pandemic. As we move forward through 2021, it is important for businesses to update their procedures in place to better position themselves for success.
To easily automate your accounts receivable, offer your customers accessible payment plans, and stay up to date with the latest software, consider incorporating a system like Denefits into your business.
Denefits is a free-to-use, complete payment solutions system that enables businesses to streamline their payment processing, gain more customers through guaranteed payment plans, and automate their billing processes. With Denefits, your business can easily begin automating its payment and invoice processing using ACH payments, which also offer your business additional security and protection against chargebacks.
When businesses take the time to improve dated systems, they position themselves to reap the benefits that come with modern digital systems. If your business has yet to transition towards automated processing, it may be time to do so.