With the arrival of the New Year—the Chinese New Year on February 5th—it’s a good time to assess what lies ahead in the year 4717. For consumer financing, the coming year will bring change, and those who adapt to the new reality will reap the reward. Take cues from a changing economy and your customer challenges, and you won’t fall behind in 4717 or 2019. Here are some thoughts on why your brand needs to position itself for success.
Lenders Start Making Moves
For the past few years, the general outlook of the U.S. economy has been optimistic and corporate performance has validated that optimism. In recent months, this optimism has withdrawn as consumer confidence ebbs, a partial government shutdown persisted, and financial markets displayed signs of increased volatility. This increased uncertainty has a significant impact on businesses, and consumer finance is not immune. In 2019, we predict this looming uncertainty will drive three trends in consumer finance:
- The arrival of new innovators in the lending markets—think of Zibby, Westcreek, PayJoy and Greensky—which has already slowed, may shift to a prolonged period of stagnation. Creditors will avoid increasing credit risk and investors will look elsewhere for innovation.
- Primary lenders, who have already started to retreat to the relative safety of upper-prime borrowers, will accelerate their move.
- Second-Look lenders will take advantage of this retreat to expand their products and customer base and this push will drive consolidation for some lenders and insolvency for others.
Retail Brands Respond
The new year’s economic uncertainty, and the corresponding shifts in the lending markets, inevitably brings change for our retail customers. To counter ever-increasing competition, we believe agile retail brands will expand their opportunities by integrating financing options into their point-of-sale (POS) systems. Enabling a seamless transition from purchase decision to transaction close will improve both the financing and customer experiences.
Tracking how sales associates manage successful financing, another contributor to increased revenues in 2019, will also become more prevalent.
To make the most of these financing opportunities, retailers will also secure Second-Look lenders now. This quick action will provide the needed flexibility before lenders retrench to upper-prime borrowers.
LendPro Makes It Easy
Another forecast for 2019: The team at LendPro won’t get caught sleeping. In the turbulent year ahead, we’ll continue to reinforce our dual value proposition: making it easier for merchants to offer financing to all customers, while making it easier for merchants to manage their financing partners. That powerful combination enabled us to close on $1.6 billion in financing approvals in 2018. This year our sights are set on driving multiples of that number.
We will achieve this strong growth with a focus on additional talent and innovative technology. On the talent front, we will add more top-tier sales talent with deep knowledge of our retail verticals. New software releases will enhance customization of our application and reporting portals as well as improve the value it conveys to its users. Our 2019 technology ambitions also include the release of an eCommerce version of our system that will establish an omni-channel shopping experience. That means that retail brands will empower their customers to browse products, apply for financing, and use that financing to purchase in-store and online. We’ll make sure LendPro, and its customers, are never late to the party.
Best wishes for a prosperous New Year!