In the dynamic world of digital commerce, convenience is king, and the realm of payments is no exception. Enter Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), an innovative service that’s reshaping the way consumers approach online shopping. With its blend of financial flexibility and instant gratification, BNPL has proven irresistible for many shoppers. But, as you’ve probably guessed, it’s not all smooth sailing. As you introduce this payment model to your business, it’s akin to inviting an intricate puzzle into your accounting practices.
In this article, we delve into why businesses are increasingly embracing BNPL, explore the accounting challenges it poses, and discuss how tools like Dext Commerce can help you navigate these financial waters with confidence.
What is Buy Now Pay Later?
Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is a financial service that allows customers to purchase items and then pay for them over a specified period of time, usually in instalments, rather than paying the full amount upfront. These services are often interest-free if paid within a certain period, but interest and fees can be charged if payments are late or missed.
Some of the well-known companies that offer BNPL services include:
- Klarna: Founded in Sweden in 2005, Klarna is one of the most popular BNPL services globally. It offers customers the opportunity to pay for items in four equal instalments, typically due every two weeks, or to finance large purchases over a longer period. Klarna conducts a soft credit check that doesn’t impact the consumer’s credit score.
- Affirm: Affirm, based in San Francisco, provides a BNPL service that allows customers to finance purchases over a period of 3, 6, or 12 months. One unique feature of Affirm is that it shows the total cost of the purchase, including interest, upfront. Affirm conducts a soft credit check which doesn’t impact the consumer’s credit score.
- PayPal Credit: PayPal Credit is a BNPL service from PayPal. It offers interest-free financing for purchases over a certain amount if paid in full within six months.
- Afterpay: An Australian company, Afterpay, allows customers to make purchases and pay for them in four equal payments due every two weeks. Like Klarna, Afterpay doesn’t charge interest or fees for on-time payments. In Europe, it’s run by Clearpay.
Why businesses choose to offer BNPL
BNPL services are transforming the landscape of financial transactions by providing unprecedented flexibility to customers. This payment deferral option often nudges customers to make purchases, especially bigger-ticket ones, that they might otherwise postpone or even abandon due to immediate affordability constraints. Consequently, this can lead to an uplift in sales and conversion rates.
An equally important but less obvious advantage is the risk coverage that BNPL providers offer. When a customer chooses BNPL, the provider typically assumes the risk of default. This means if a customer fails to fulfil their payment obligations, the provider takes on the responsibility. Thus, businesses are shielded from the potential financial losses associated with customer non-payment. This is particularly beneficial for small to medium enterprises, for whom a significant default could have substantial impacts on their cash flow and profitability.
Furthermore, businesses that offer BNPL are viewed as more customer-centric, enhancing their brand image. This payment flexibility signals that the business understands and cares about its customers’ financial needs, fostering a loyal customer base. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, this can be a key differentiator that promotes customer retention and growth.
Unravelling the Bookkeeping Maze of Buy Now Pay Later
The adoption of BNPL services, while advantageous, brings its own set of complexities to your accounting desk. Picture this: you have an online shop on Shopify and offer payment options such as credit card, PayPal, and Klarna. Each of these payment methods has its own distinct data source for transactions. Now, let’s say a customer makes a purchase using Klarna. You’re now handling data from both Shopify (the sale data) and Klarna (the processing fees). You can see how this can become a daunting jigsaw puzzle for manual reconciliation, and that’s only with one transaction!
Furthermore, the risk of manual errors is substantial and the process is time-consuming. Having robust accounting systems and perhaps even the advice of a qualified accountant or financial advisor becomes critical.
In the face of these challenges, businesses using BNPL schemes should have robust accounting systems and procedures in place. Platforms like Dext Commerce are designed specifically to make this maze of transactions more navigable.
Integrating Dext Commerce with Buy Now Pay Later
Here are some ways that Dext Commerce can assist businesses dealing with challenges presented by Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) schemes:
1 – Automated Data Capture: Dext Commerce (former Greenback) is known for its capability to capture and categorise transaction data automatically from various sources, including e-commerce platforms, marketplaces and point-of-sale systems. This feature can help simplify the reconciliation process for businesses using BNPL schemes by ensuring all transaction data is captured accurately and consistently.
2 – Real-Time Visibility: By providing real-time visibility into transactions, Dext Commerce helps businesses track and manage BNPL transactions more effectively, aiding in revenue recognition and cash flow management.
3 – Integration with Accounting Software: Dext Commerce’s integration with popular accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero streamlines the process of recording BNPL transactions, reducing the risk of errors and saving time.
4 – Expense Tracking: By tracking expenses associated with each transaction, including fees charged by BNPL providers, Dext Commerce helps businesses accurately account for these costs.
5 – Handling of Returns and Refunds: Dext Commerce can track returns and refunds at the transaction level, helping businesses manage these more effectively when they involve BNPL transactions.
Empowering customers with financial flexibility is the key driving force behind businesses offering BNPL services. However, this innovation does not come without its accounting challenges. With multiple data sources and the need for meticulous reconciliation, it’s clear that managing BNPL transactions can be a complex affair.
The key to unlocking the benefits of BNPL while keeping your accounting house in order lies in leveraging technology. Through automated data capture, real-time visibility, seamless software integration, expense tracking, and efficient handling of returns and refunds, services like Dext Commerce offer a beacon of clarity amid the potential accounting maze of BNPL schemes.
Embracing BNPL services while also taming its accounting intricacies is not just about surviving in the modern digital commerce landscape – it’s about thriving. As you venture into this new territory, remember: every challenge is an opportunity for growth, and the right tools can make the journey a rewarding one.
Now sure where to start? Check our Comprehensive Guide to Business Accounting Automation to get started.