February 3, 2005, 12:00 AM

Why ShoppersChoice.com will roll out a broader payments plan

One strategy ShoppersChoice is implementing to draw traffic and convert sales is offering a broader array of payment options, including e-checks and an online finance center that will let customers calculate payments and finance options.


Offering customers multiple ways to pay across mass merchandise categories will be a key strategic element of ShoppersChoice.com, the new online store The Grill Store and More plans to open in April.

Grill Store and More CEO Michael Hackley has ambitious plans to launch ShoppersChoice as a new alternative to Overstock.com and other mass merchandise sites. ShoppersChoice will carry nearly 2 million SKUs in more than a dozen product categories when the web store officially opens for business. Hackley has ambitious plans to grow web sales to about $50 million annually.

One strategy Hackley is implementing at ShoppersChoice to draw traffic and convert sales is offering a broader array of payment options, including accepting e-checks and arranging online financing. Today the Grill Store and More’s core web store, BBQGuys.com, accepts only credit card transactions.

But ShoppersChoice will use First Data Corp. as its payments systems provider because of the range of services First Data can offer. Hackley says he is also in discussions with Wells Fargo & Co. and MBNA Corp. regarding providing ShoppersChoice.com customers with various online financing options.

When the site is fully operational ShoppersChoice will have the ability to accept e-checks. The site will also debut with an online finance center, a method to calculate payments and finance options over six months, a year and possibly other time frames.

Expanding payments is good for better customer service since on a mass merchant site visitors are looking at buying a wider range of products. But offering more online payment options, particularly for higher-end products, also ensures that the merchant is paid faster and that orders aren’t canceled. The Grill Store and More, for instance, sells grills and other items routinely priced over $2,000. In many instances customers are uncomfortable with paying for the transaction online with a credit card, so they place the order online and then mail The Grill Store and More a check.

It can often take as long as three weeks to process, ship and receive payment for the order. The more offline the transaction becomes, the higher the chance the customer may have second thoughts and cancel the order entirely or write a check with insufficient funds in the account.

But with the acceptance of e-checks and other forms of online payment and an interactive finance center, Hackley says ShoppersChoice will attract a broader array of customers. “The broader the merchandise selection and payment options we offer means that shoppers are more likely to come to ShoppersChoice.com and stay,” he says.


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