Coming out of a global pandemic where the retail industry experienced near-constant shifts in consumer behavior, demand for Afterpay’s flexible payment solutions have exploded. Fueled primarily by younger generations — specifically Gen Z and Millennials — who are credit adverse, the buy now, pay later space has been very busy and energetic, empowering conscious consumers to make larger purchases and pay over time without hidden fees.

And stores reopen to vaccinated populations, reports show consumer behavior and preferences as it relates to flexible spending learned online aren’t going anywhere.

In preparation for meeting this new demand, Alex Fisher, vice president of retail at Afterpay, North America, told WWD during the Fairchild Media Group’s Tech Forum that the company has been “focused on how it can support both merchants and consumers during this time and how it can build to meet new demands being seen.” Notably, she said, launching offerings in-store will be a large part of Afterpay’s next stage.

“What we were hearing from consumers, loud and clear, is that they wanted to be able to use Afterpay in more ways and places than ever before, specifically in stores,” said Fisher. “Similarly, our retail partners wanted us to expand and extend our offering from online-only to being available within stores, with all of the different things in between like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and buy online, return in-store.”

In October 2020, Afterpay launched in-store with retailers including Finish Line, DSW, Forever 21, Levi’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods, among others. According to Fisher, more retailers will be launching in-store soon.

“One key focus we’ve had is making sure omnichannel is core to our strategy just as it should be to every single retailer out there,” said Fisher. “The consumer as we saw on our own data, and through our own social channels and otherwise, is increasingly demanding the online conveniences and flexibilities to be extended into the store environment.”

Moreover, Fisher said, Afterpay’s solution is designed to help retailers as they become omnichannel. One example of extending online conveniences to in-store transactions is enabling health and safety measures to remain paramount in a store environment with Afterpay’s tap-to-transact allowing contactless payment similar to Apple Pay or Google Pay.

“[Consumers] want to be able to use their own money to pay in the way they want, regardless of where they’re shopping or how they choose to shop and that’s what we’ve done in terms of meeting the moment is launching our store offering,” said Fisher. “What that translates into for merchants and how that really helps their business goes beyond that. We’re giving them this tool to serve the next generation, and this consumer, but we’re also having a really tangible impact on key metrics within the store environment, like average order values, units per transactions and returns.”

To illustrate, Fisher told WWD in terms of units per transaction increases, when a retailer typically sees its consumer buying three items, they might see that consumer buy six when using Afterpay — with the company reporting seeing two to three times increases in average order values and higher conversions on full-price sales. Notably, Fisher said retailers also see lower returns when shoppers choose to purchase through Afterpay because “they feel good, not only about what they bought, but how they pay for it, they’re more likely to keep it.”

At the same time, Afterpay retailers experience a loyalty element from consumers choosing to buy now, pay later. In fact, the company has found an increasing number of shoppers actually start the shopping journey through the Afterpay site or app.

And in many ways, Fisher said, Afterpay acts like a full-funnel marketing partner for its retailers with third-party data revealing that Afterpay’s app and website are top referring sources of traffic to partners, driving over 35 million referrals to brands and retailers during key shopping months.

Eventually, as retailers see returns are down and baskets have grown in value, growing and driving the share of the business that uses buy now, pay later becomes a priority for retailers, too. With the next step for many being in-store, Fisher said there are always more conversations to be had.

“We’ll have the conversation about your business, what marketing levers do we have, what operational levers do we have, how can we support your sales teams, your store associates on the floor,” said Fisher. “This is a tool for [retailers] to ultimately grow that and drive that percentage up.”