Apple launched its buy now, pay later (BNPL) service Apple Pay Later in March 2023. Industry experts say that while the news is an opportunity for retailers to grow their market share, it is important to be transparent with consumers.
40% of Digital Commerce 360’s Top 1000 retailers already offer Apple Pay. Half (54%) of Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the Top 1000 online retailers offer some version of buy now, pay later. That’s up from 45.8% of Top 1000 retailers in 2022 and 28.2% in 2020.
Consumers are turning more to BNPL as inflation continues, according to Adobe Analytics data. In 2022, BNPL online purchases increased 14% year over year, with revenue increasing 27% year over year.
In January and February 2023, BNPL order share was up 10% year over year, according to Adobe. Revenue decreased 19% year over year. This indicates “that consumers are using this payment method for smaller purchases,” according to Adobe. Adobe’s Digital Price Index, powered by Adobe Analytics, analyzes 1 trillion visits to retail sites and over 100 million SKUs across 18 product categories.
For luxury online marketplace Orchard Mile, checking out with Apple Pay is “very easy,” says Jak Benardete, CEO, Orchard Mile. He did not share what portion of customers pay using Apple Pay.
“Less than 15% of customers use BNPL on our website,” Benardete says. That’s up about one or two percentage points year over year, he adds.
“But if I have faith in the spending habits of the American consumer – it means there’s going to be more buy now, pay later spending,” he says. “I think Apple will be very successful.”
BNPL to attract customer loyalty
Apple’s entry into the BNPL arena, and subsequent launch of the Apple savings account is part of the tech giant’s efforts to lock in customer loyalty, says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com, a consumer financial services company.
“You need an Apple device to use Apple Pay, Apple Pay Later or to get the Apple [credit] Card,” Rossman says. “You need an Apple Card to get an Apple savings account. Apple’s peer-to-peer payments service is worth mentioning as well. The goal here is to appeal to dedicated Apple fans – and there are many.”
There are more than 1.74 billion iPhone users worldwide as of 2023, according to DemandSage, a HubSpot data reporting and analytics software vendor.
But while the impact is big for Apple and its many Apple device users, Rossman isn’t sure the impact to retailers is as great. “BNPL has been a rapidly growing payment method, which has been shown to increase sales,” he says. “I see Apple Pay Later more as a potential growth area for Apple and as a potential threat to BNPL competitors such as Affirm, Afterpay and Klarna, rather than a game-changer for overall retail sales.”
What risks retailers should consider around BNPL
BNPL options give consumers another way to pay. But retailers should consider possible security problems, says Marcelo Queiroz, head of market strategy at ClearSale, a fraud/chargeback protection software vendor.
“BNPL account creation only requires limited information from users,” Queiroz says. “It’s often easier for cybercriminals to hijack these accounts compared to more protected accounts, like bank accounts. If a fraudster steals account information at the creation of the account, they can use someone else’s data to receive the pre-approved line of credit, and the actual owner could be totally unaware.”
Once the account is set up, a retailer assumes the shopper is using authentic credentials and can be trusted. This poses a potential problem as retailers are increasingly hesitant to decline any orders, Queiroz says. “Especially since 40% of consumers across our five-country survey said they’ll never return to a retailer’s site after a false decline,” he says of ClearSale’s 2021 State of Consumer Attitudes on Ecommerce report.
The benefits of adopting BNPL for retailers
“Customers who already have iPhones and iPads in their hands may adopt this form of payment quickly. This is similar to the early and strong adoption of Apple Pay,” says Jennifer Stevenson, senior product director marketing at Uberall, a customer experience software vendor.
Consumers want what’s convenient, Stevenson adds. But retailers should communicate clearly with consumers that the payment installments could result in interest payments, Stevenson says.
“Businesses should only adopt buy now, pay later as a form of payment from trustworthy and known brands,” Stevenson says. “Since Apple is obviously one of the biggest businesses worldwide, retailers shouldn’t be concerned about using this payment method as a suitable option.”
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