Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Think Through Layaway Implications

Layaway—a staple of Christmas shopping—is already off and away right after Labor Day in what USA Today calls “a layaway war.”
  • Walmart lowered its layaway fee from $15 to $5, and the shopper will get the $5 back as a gift card when paying off the layaway merchandise. 
  • Kmart is dropping both layaway fees and limits on what items can be placed on layaway. Kmart’s parent company, Sears, is expected to do the same at Sears stores. 
  • Best Buy, T.J. Maxx, and Marshalls are offering layaway, although with limits on store locations and eligible items. 
     For many small to midsize retailers, layaway is an important part of the year-round customer service initiatives. The three Ritzy Ragz & Thingz stores in Northern California are among those laying away reservations about the technique.
     When considering whether to have a layaway program, keep business fundamentals in mind.
  • How will you hold onto the reserved items? Storage costs money. 
  • What if a customer places an item on layaway and then doesn’t make the payments? Does it work for you to charge an upfront layaway fee that is forfeited or turned into a store credit if the customer doesn’t keep to the layaway agreement? 
  • What will be your policy and procedures if you place on sale an item the customer previously put on layaway? At Kmart, the consumer gets the discounted price if the item is marked down within one week of the layaway agreement. Otherwise, they don’t. 
     What are the odds your arrangements will end up alienating valued customers?
     If you choose not to offer layaway but your shoppers ask for it, analyze what they are seeking and offer alternative ways to fulfill the shoppers’ desires.
  • It might be the absence of a good credit rating, so a desire to pay cash. Last spring, launched their “Pay with Cash” program. “Pay with Cash” is designed for customers who lack a checking account and credit card, but want to take advantage of the broad item selection and ease of shopping online. The customer places an order via and pays with cash at a Walmart store within 48 hours, at which point the order is shipped. 
  • It might be that the shopper wants to ensure availability of certain gift items, but doesn’t have good hiding places at home. You could set up special order arrangements with delayed delivery from your supplier. 
Click below for more: 
Lay Away Reservations with Layaway 
Credit the Appeal of Cash

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