Spreading the cost

IMG_7946001George Miller, director of sales at Omni Capital Retail Finance, tells GTN the benefits of offering finance deals to customers

IF YOU THINK finance options aren’t for your business, or simply aren’t offered to the gun trade, think again – and think of Omni Capital Retail Finance (OCRF). Unlike high street banks or lenders, OCRF is privately funded – and what is more, it specialises in the field sports sector, though the firm has experience and expertise across multiple retail sectors.

We asked OCRF’s sales director George Miller: Why should gun trade retailers bother? “Retail finance enables businesses to offer their customers the ability to pay for goods and services in monthly instalments,” George says. “OCRF provides point-of-sale credit facilities, allowing consumers a quick and convenient way of borrowing money to make purchases.

“It has many benefits to the trade; typically, finance customers spend up to 30 per cent more than non-finance customers. Finance enables customers to purchase products that they could otherwise not afford or would have to wait to buy.”

And there’s more for retailers: “OCRF provides retailers with a totally paperless credit solution. All required information is captured via a secure, state-of-the-art customer fulfilment platform. An application can be completed in a matter of minutes, either in-store or via the store’s website, with which the platform can be incorporated.

“The perfect way to attract customers is to offer interest-free finance on their buys, allowing the individual to spread the cost of a purchase over time at no extra cost. For longer repayment periods, interest-bearing finance may be a more suitable option. OCRF offers interest-free credit, interest-bearing credit or a mixture of both, and experienced account managers are on hand to tailor packages to suit a business’s needs.

Previously trading as Logical Finance Limited OCRF was acquired by CPC group in 2013.  George says its association with the gun trade is a long-running one: “OCRF has been dealing with the gun trade since inception, with three out of our first five retail partners being gun retailers. We are proud to have recently secured a partnership with the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).” OCRF counts several industry experts among its management team.

“As the shooting industry is dominated by many small businesses rather than recognisable national chains,” George continues, “the potential and uses of retail finance is not always as well-understood or appreciated as in other sectors. Many store owners are passionate about their products and customer service but are not always aware of the sales growth opportunities provided by retail finance, which in turn can improve cash flow and profitability.”

Offering a finance option may encourage punters to shell out on an aspirational purchase

Offering a finance option may encourage punters to shell out on an aspirational purchase

George says that in the past, the shooting market has been poorly served by high street banks, with many lenders suddenly pulling out of the sector, leaving retailers unable to offer finance packages to their customers. But, he says, interest in finance from the shooting industry is beginning to bounce back – as evidenced by the response they have had when exhibiting at trade shows.

In fact, George says, it’s still an underused option in our sector: “Sports and outdoor pursuits can be expensive hobbies, with products in this industry often running into hundreds of pounds. If an individual went to a furniture store, they would expect to be offered a finance facility to spread the cost. We recognise that people within the gun trade have a passion for their chosen interest and should be offered the opportunity to make a purchase using finance.”

With this in mind, George also explains that finance is not for everybody. “We have a sophisticated credit approval system in place, and take particular care to ensure that customers only take on a commitment that they can afford and for which they are financially suited.”

For gun dealers wanting to use Omni Capital, the process is simple: all a retailer needs to do is get in touch. From there a dedicated team of account managers are available to take the retailer through each step of the process, providing guidance and information.

There are some conditions involved: retailers must possess a valid and current Consumer Credit Licence (CCL), which is a non-negotiable requirement of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for any retailer wanting to provide finance facilities. Once this requirement is met, retailers can be approved within 48 hours. If a retailer does not hold a valid CCL, information and support on how to apply for one is available.

That’s it, says George – there’s no catch. “OCRF offers a no-cost proposition to retailers and dealers. There are no initial sign-up fees or ongoing processing costs, even in the event of a declined application. There are also no third-party subscription costs, such as a trade association membership.”

He continues: “Any questions or concerns a retailer may have we are happy to answer directly if they get in touch. As we guide them through the process, we will provide all the answers and information they need. Most importantly, they will come to understand the many benefits to be derived from the smart and sensible use of retail finance.”

Continued support is always on offer and once the finance opportunity is set up, retailers are assisted in maximising its potential. The OCRF platform can be integrated with retailers’ websites, and point of sale material is also given out free of charge, to ensure that the offer has maximum visibility.

Inside the airgun centre, where retail finance has increased sales by 20 per cent

Inside the airgun centre, where retail finance has increased sales by 20 per cent

One case study of the impact finance can have can be seen at The Airgun Centre, where the provision of finance on purchases has boosted sales to the extent that over 20 per cent of the business’s customers now use it. The Airgun Centre said: “Retail Finance is a vital tool for us. We have a substantial amount of customers who take advantage of this facility.”

Retail finance could be an option that many retailers have not yet considered, or have discounted owing to the lack of support shown from high street banks and lenders within the sector. Some businesses may view finance packages as an unknown entity, likely to incorporate many hidden expenses, extra work or diminishing returns. A certain amount of recent bad press surrounding loan companies could also have dented retailer’s confidence in finance options.

OCRF is determind to counter that preconception: “With figures speaking for themselves, the field sports sector being their speciality and with their vast wealth of experience, we would strongly encourage any retailers with reservations about the potential for offering finance to carefully consider the benefits of this successful initiative.”

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