At Merchant Advance Capital, we’re all about easy. We love making it simple for small businesses and their owners to apply for and receive funding, and as such our list of required qualifications are relatively few, especially when compared to the stipulations that many larger bank lenders will enforce for small business applicants.
One of the few things we do request is that applicants for a Merchant Advance or business loan be able to prove that they are, in fact, occupying a physical space or storefront, otherwise known as a “brick and mortar” location. This sets us apart from other lenders who work with the “startup” community, for example, including businesses based around ambitious yet unproven web and mobile development projects. As a small business and perhaps an existing or prospective partner with Merchant Advance Capital, you may ask: “why make this a requirement?”
Simply put, businesses with brick and mortar locations are likely to have a steady flow of customers, a facility for processing debit and credit payments every day, and a network of infrastructure (people like your point-of-sale processor, suppliers and landlords, neighbouring businesses, Better Business Bureau qualifications, and even the online reviews and comments left by patrons of your business) that connects them to the wider world. Our team uses this information to help understand your business better – your location, for example, could be highly influenced by seasonal changes, and we would want to take that into consideration when creating a funding strategy for you.
Build Customer Experience Online and Off
There are other reasons to embrace being a brick-and-mortar business. We’ve previously discussed findings showing that Canadians are voracious online shoppers and consumers. E-commerce is growing and increasingly being used by Canadian businesses to identify themselves in their key markets. However, an integration of brick-and-mortar interactivity with online convenience may be the way forward for many businesses. The appeal of being able to interact directly with a business, to touch or try on or even taste or smell, to directly evaluate a product or the cut of someone’s proverbial jib, is not to be ignored. There is certainly a “sight unseen” gap to wrestle with when making a purchasing decision online: as this interesting article points out, businesses should still be aware of the importance of physical space to create important connections and provide consumer confidence.
You may have heard of ClearlyContacts.ca, a provider of optical products and eyewear: the “dot ca” is built right into their brand. For this business, the convenience of online ordering is one of the core principles that attracts new business and retains long-term customers. And yet, here in Merchant Advance Capital’s home city of Vancouver, ClearlyContacts has opened two physical retail locations. A third has recently arrived in MAC’s sister city, Toronto.
Why would a business like ClearlyContacts do this? After all, one of the perks of running an online-only business is the reduction of overhead costs associated with retail. Stop for a moment, though, and consider the customer experience of a person who needs a new pair of eyeglasses. I, for one, have spent unseemly amounts of time in local optometrists’ offices, trying and retrying frames to get just the right sense of the aesthetics. Don’t tell me you haven’t. Effectively, the product itself is evaluated by how well it fits with someone’s unique face shape and appearance. I doubt that someone would commit to that kind of decision based on an online photo of a set of frames. Realizing this fact about the needs of their target audience is likely what persuaded ClearlyContacts to bridge the gap into physical retail.
Think of your physical location as anchoring you to both your customers’ senses and your sources of funding. While e-commerce grows, stay connected to the real world to help your business succeed.