CEO Kirby Holmes launched Texas-based specialty pet product company K9 Mask in March 2020 to provide dogs with N95 air filter masks for protection against allergens, wildfire smoke, desert dust, smog and chemical toxins. However, it happened to debut at an especially crucial time, coinciding with the pandemic’s onset and expanding the company’s base when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and health experts urged consumers to wear masks. The CDC assured owners that pets were immune from the virus, but concerned owners who consider dogs to be family members flocked to K9 Mask and boosted sales.
Customers who bought K9 Mask products because of the pandemic made up about 45 percent of the company’s base by the end of 2020. These consumers also voiced their interest in installment payment plans to help them purchase the nearly $50 masks, so Holmes looked for a financing method. He found that Australia-based buy now, pay later (BNPL) provider Afterpay’s solution could appear in product descriptions on participating websites’ pages, thus encouraging conversion for any shoppers on the fence.
“BNPL is the only highlighted solution that’s on every product page before a customer puts the product in his cart and purchases it,” Holmes said. “[Other eCommerce payment methods] like Amazon Pay, Google Pay or Apple Pay only [appear] once [customers] get into the checkout system.”
A BNPL Assist
K9 Mask thus added Afterpay to its website in March 2021, with Holmes’ decision to offer a BNPL solution largely driven by customer feedback.
“Before we used Afterpay, we’d get communication from two types of customers,” Holmes said. “There were those of an older generation who would say, ‘I am on a fixed income. I want to buy your product, but I don’t think I can afford it. Is there a way to make the product cheaper? Do you have a discount code or a coupon code?’”
The other customers who requested flexible payments were younger consumers, students or those early in their careers who saw value in the product but couldn’t afford it or didn’t have access to credit. Adding a BNPL solution to checkout evidently helped satisfy this need because Holmes said the emails from potential customers stopped coming in. It is too soon to tell how much the payment plan will affect sales, but Holmes has already noted a 1 percent sales growth through BNPL, which was enough to convince him to continue with the service.
“Certainly it’s not a significant increase in sales, but it’s enough to show some customers are using it as a solution,” he said.
Afterpay recently reported that North America has become its largest sales-generating region. This matches Holmes’ observation that, despite K9 Mask having customers in Asia and almost every country in Europe, the only customers using Afterpay have been American.
Being part of a buy now, pay later network has begun to increase sales and helped K9 Mask boost traffic to its website. Holmes has seen 25 percent of traffic to the company’s site in the last 30 days coming from visitors finding it displayed in Afterpay’s directory of businesses. K9 Mask spent a month promoting the BNPL option on its homepage and social media channels, explaining the system and pointing out how it could help consumers afford higher-priced products.
“Whenever anyone clicks on any one of our product pages, they come across a statement saying, ‘You can divide this product into four easy payments,’ and it automatically adjusts the product price, divides it by four and tells people, ‘Here’s what your price will be if you paid it over four months.’ There’s a link to understand more about Afterpay with a pop-up that informs the consumers how it helps them.”
Holmes found that integrating the payment method into his site was easy, especially because of the BNPL provider’s frictionless interface with Shopify, which enabled the company to get up and running with the option quickly. The expansion of payment options to meet consumers’ varying needs could ultimately allow K9 Mask to save more dogs’ lives with its products.