21 Jun 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Buy now pay later: The solution to stalling aftermarket growth?

Rising inflation, spiralling prices and higher servicing costs are all combined to pose a challenge to the aftermarket sector, with a recent McKinsey report forecasting stagnating revenue growth across European auto aftermarkets of around 1.5% annual growth until 2030.  Car owners are already cutting back on spending, reviewing budgets and delaying non-essential repairs.
Considering this, retailers and distributors must adapt their businesses to better support their consumers’ needs. One route they should consider is improving the flexible payment options they offer at checkout, such as buy now pay later (BNPL), which would help ease the financial burden on their customers.

Stuck in first gear
So, why is the industry stuck in first gear on this? The UK automotive aftermarket ranks as the fourth largest industry in Europe and ninth in the world, and contributes over £12bn annually to the economy, supporting 345,600 jobs. This means that the fact that the outlook for the sector is weakening is extremely concerning. Furthermore, research consultancy IBIS World is forecasting that the average age of UK motor vehicles will start to fall this year, suggesting a dip in second-hand car sales, which typically need more aftermarket support. Compounding this negative backdrop is rising prices. In a survey conducted by the Motor Ombudsman earlier this year, some 63% of independent garages and dealerships said that because of delayed deliveries and global supply chain problems, they would be raising prices over the next six months. They also noted evidence of drivers cutting back on spending on their cars as part of their efforts to limit spending.
The impact of all these trends is likely to see a rise in buyer hesitation. Cart abandonment, across all industries, already sits at nearly 70%. The cost-of-living crisis will inevitably increase this figure further still. So, how can the aftermarket sector meet this issue of rising cart abandonment head-on?

Expanding the scope
Expanding the scope of checkout finance offers a solution. To stem the resulting revenue loss from increased cart abandonment rates and falling consumer demand, retailers should consider and evaluate flexible payment options.
Finance options such as hire purchase and personal contract purchase (PCP), which allow a buyer to spread payment over a longer time period, are largely confined to purchasing new or used cars, rather than vehicle parts and accessories. However, implementing a more flexible payment option at checkout for these products and services, such as buy now pay later (BNPL), will help alleviate the financial strain of such purchases for consumers. This is because BNPL splits large payments into smaller manageable instalments, so customers do not feel the full financial impact in one go. However, traditional BNPL products often present a one size fits all approach that fails to comprehensively meet the needs of aftermarket businesses.

Lender aggregation is the future of BNPL. Checkout finance solutions that are supported by multiple lenders are the next step in the evolution of BNPL. This is because a combination of lenders provides a broader range of risk appetite, which means that the right lender will be matched with the right consumer. For retailers, this innovative matching of lenders to customers will boost acceptance and conversion rates, and, consequently, sales. Whilst customers will benefit from having greater access to finance and more freedom to pay the way they want.
The UK’s primary multi-lender checkout finance option is Deko’s Pay Monthly product. Deko’s lender aggregation means it can cover basket sizes ranging from £25 to £25,000, with interest-free options available and instalment periods up to 60 months. This flexibility that comes with multi-lender finance products will empower your customers to service and upgrade the cars they love, building better customer relationships and lasting consumer demand.

Economic contribution
BNPL can also support the sector’s economic contribution. As the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) put it in a recent report: “The automotive aftermarket is a vital part of the UK economy … By keeping the country moving, the aftermarket delivers significant direct and indirect financial benefits to the country.” Retailers should adopt BNPL, not only because they want to boost their revenues but also to help and support their customers. Seeing BNPL being used more broadly across the sector would help it mitigate the impact of the emerging slowdown and allow the auto aftermarket industry to continue to make a significant contribution to the UK’s economic recovery.