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Google it, Uber it, Laybuy it

New Zealand’s largest buy now, pay later service, Laybuy has officially launched in the UK  with footwear retailer Footasylum confirmed as its first major retail partner.

Laybuy allows consumers to spread the cost of purchases over six interest-free payments, with the first being made at the point of sale. The partnership will see the option to pay by Laybuy made available to Footasylum customers on its online store, with the in-store payment option being launched in Footasylum’s 70 UK high street stores later this year.

Retail Sector sat down with co-founder and managing director Gary Rohloff to find out more about the new payment service.

How did you come up with the idea behind Laybuy?

I got into retail through a CFO role at Australasia’s largest catalogue company Ezibuy after being in banking and finance for the first 20 years of my career. I was CFO there for about 12 months before I was made managing director and I actually ran that company for six years. It was during that period we first thought about doing this Laybuy option. In Australasia when I was a kid there was this thing called Layby offered by some retailers that meant when I wanted to buy a pair of jeans but couldn’t afford them, I would put down a small deposit and the retailer would hold them behind the counter until I could afford them.  

So when I was at Ezibuy we thought, well we have all these customers details and we can only get them to spend so much because their discretionary income is finite, what if we offer them an Ezibuy Layby but let them take the product straight away? What we couldn’t do at that time was to do the digital credit scoring as it was very people and paper-based and it just didn’t really work.

So wind the clock forward about 15 years and I have subsequently been the CEO of New Zealand’s biggest stationery company and New Zealand’s largest footwear company. It was at this time I decided that at my age and stage in life I didn’t want to die wondering if this idea could work – so I thought it is now or never lets bite the bullet. With my wife and my youngest son, who at the time was 20 years old, we started the research project of Laybuy in September of 2016 and launched in May of 2017 – we will be two years old very soon.

How does Laybuy separate itself and stand out from other buy now pay later companies?

One of the biggest differences is that Laybuy is passionate about helping people enhance their lifestyles, without increasing the cost, that’s why we charge 0% interest and when a customer misses a payment we take immediate action to freeze their Laybuy account to prevent them from getting into a debt spiral.

The other more obvious difference is we have a six week payment cycle with one sixth of the purchase price paid on day one and the balance paid every week over the next five weeks. The customer can also choose the day of the week the subsequent payments come out of their accounts so they can manage their own budget.

Also prior to launching we sent out a survey across the UK of 2,500 asking them how they prefer to manage their finances – daily, weekly, fortnightly, monthly or never. The most popular way to manage finances we found which is not dissimilar to NZ or AUS is weekly, followed by daily, then monthly and then fortnightly. Everything we have done has been researched and is tried to align with the consumer

We also have a couple of other features that are unique such as Laybuy boost – which allows customers to spend more than their Laybuy limit in one seamless transaction providing they pay the difference. For example if your Laybuy limit was £100 and you wanted to buy something for £135 you can do that in one transaction provided you pay the excess £35 today. No one else in the world is offering that currently and we have found it is used a lot by Millenials who don’t have a high credit score as they generally don’t like credit cards, but can afford these things.

The main benefits of using Laybuy

Retailers really only have two ways of growing their sales; sell their existing customers more or get new customers. Laybuy offers the opportunity for them to do both because the way our platform presents online. If an £120 item with six payments of £20 and that actually appears under the retail price. That drives consumers as they may not be looking to spend £120 – they are just spending £20. That drives average order value and conversion uplifts of more than 50%. That is how it solves the problem of how to get customers buying more and the other problem is solved by bringing our almost half a million existing customers in Australasia to our UK merchants. Our customer database is portable because we are currency agnostic.

Why enter the UK market now?

When we had the idea to start this company we had the dream of creating a ubiquitous, global brand. My wife and I decided that at our age to reach our dream it was either go big or go home. Due to New Zealand’s size we had to create something global and our plan was to always dominate New Zealand, demonstrate portability by taking it to Australia, then as fast as we can after demonstrating our portability go over to the UK where nobody is doing what we are doing.

Why Footasylum and how did that partnership arise?

It’s been interesting as we have been in the UK since August last year and we have been trading since October, the response from merchants has been overwhelmingly positive. Many of our partner brands in New Zealand and Australia that ship to the UK have got on board, as well as a large number of UK-based merchants. We have been talking to Footasylum since before Christmas but like all retail around the world all retailers don’t want to focus on everything until peak trading time has died off so we waited until now.

What are your goals for the next five years?

I see it as if we can develop a ubiquitous global brand to the point where people talk about you Google it, you Uber it, you Laybuy it, what a wonderful story that would be to tell the grandkids one day. That is the overall goal. We will be live in Europe and the US by the end of the year – our only handbrake to our growth is the ability to credit score into the countries we wish to grow into. We know being a global partner can enable that for us fairly quickly and then we can just go.

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