The retail industry went digital over 25 years ago when experts realized there was a massive opportunity to drive revenue by stocking more inventory and reaching more customers. This initiated a paradigm shift that would forever redefine the way businesses run. Yet when it comes to servicing small businesses, many banks still operate like it’s 1995—leaving money behind. If you’re looking to optimize both customer experience and revenue from small business lending, there’s a wealth of existing knowledge from your ecommerce customers to tap into. 

In 2017, Smart Insights reported the abandonment of online shopping carts—or their industry equivalent—by sector. Financial services proved the worst off, suffering from an 83.6% abandonment rate. Retail shows 10% less cart abandonment than finance, and remains about a decade—or more—ahead of banks in the use of ecommerce technologies. So when thinking about how to generate more profit from your small business customers, take a few tips from retail brands.

Get right down to business 

In today’s fast-moving world, speed and convenience are paramount. This is especially true for small business prospects that need business capital but can’t afford to waste time or money visiting a bank. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your lending application online to begin with? Many of the advancements in personal banking are side-stepped in small business lending. When business owners have to step away from their company, employees, and customers to fill out an application in-person, they’re potentially losing out on business. Online applications save the small business owner—as well as your team—time.

  • Is your lending application mobile-ready? Just as retail applications have brought newfound ease to online shopping, so banks and lenders can optimize their lending applications—making them mobile friendly. Small business owners are constantly working or on the go, so applying for loans may be something they leave for time spent commuting, or in between meetings and client calls. Ensuring your application isn’t just accessible over mobile—but user-friendly, intuitive, and fast—is key. A slow website can increase abandonment by 75%, and loyalty drops 50% when your site is slow—now think about how much more a user will value speed when they’re accessing your site from their mobile device.

  • Does it get straight to the point? In other words, does it ask only what your bank needs to make a lending decision? If it’s asking for excessive information, you risk higher form abandonment rates—and frustrating applicants.

  • Do you make it easy for your applicants to provide information? Akin to saving your payment and shipping information in your favorite retail app, rather than having your applicants manually gather and upload their financial statements from years past, make it easy by allowing them to simply link their bank account to the application. It may sound basic, but it can be the difference between a submitted or an abandoned application. 

Stay in touch—even after they’re gone 

Application abandonment is a reality of operating a bank. But all is not lost: maintaining a connection after the fact is your best shot at turning things around. Think how many emails you get from retail businesses: every hour. Make sure you’re collecting the email address of everyone who starts a loan application—and following up with those who don’t finish. While sending a follow-up reminder doesn’t guarantee a completed application (or in your case, a signature), it does keep your bank top-of-mind. Applicants are more likely to complete their application—or consider you as an option next time they’re ready to apply—if you’ve made a concerted effort to get back in touch.

Keep your doors open for stop-ins

There’s no question that online shopping has revolutionized retail. Of course, everyone still likes to window shop from time to time—and there’s a reason physical storefronts haven’t completely disappeared. While all small businesses will appreciate—and in many cases depend upon—an end-to-end digital experience, it’s important to make sure you warmly welcome qualified prospects. Ensuring that applicants know that even if they abandon their online form, they can still stroll into your bank and finish that application isn’t just an added trust factor for them: it’s a lucrative opportunity for you.

Implementing an end-to-end digitized lending solution of your own can help you lock down these best practices—and get ahead of the competition. Try a free demo of LendingFront today.