Accessing credit quickly and cheaply is one of the biggest challenges faced by online sellers. Sometimes, you may need credit to deal with cashflow crises. At other times, money might be needed to capitalize on short-term business opportunities. The problem is, conventional lenders often make it hard to obtain the credit that you need.
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Is Factoring the Right Way to Finance Your eCommerce Business?
If you run a small or medium-sized eCommerce business, alternative lending services like crowd-funded loans could be the right way to go. Even then, the approval process takes time and can result in rejection. However, there is another option. Factoring can be the ideal way to finance your company’s expansion. Here’s how it works and how it can benefit your business:
What is Factoring?
Factoring is a way of raising money based upon the business’s receivables, i.e., income it is owed by customers but cannot be collected immediately. Factors step in to provide a large chunk of that income (but not the whole amount) without having to wait for the customers to pay. The borrower then hands over control of their credit ledger to the factor for a given period, usually around 24 months. The factor then collects the income and takes an agreed-upon fee as their profit.
At the end of the factoring period, businesses are usually left with between 70 and 80 percent of the income they would have received from their customers had they collected the invoices themselves.
The Advantages of Factoring
If you need money quickly, factoring is probably the best way to do so. Instead of having to wait for customers to pay up, you can have a large portion of their bills in your accounts, ready to spend.
This money can then be used as working capital to take advantage of opportunities. Imagine a scenario in which you know that a stock of a certain toy or appliance will sell, but that you won’t be paid for months. In such cases, factoring can allow you to purchase the stock you need without having to take out a loan.
The same applies to seasonal businesses. If you know that business will pick up when the sun shines, factors can provide capital to kick-start the vacation season.
Factoring also saves time for the borrower. If you don’t want to waste time and resources on your credit-control operations, bringing in a reliable factor can do so efficiently.
Factoring doesn’t require a long credit history; all that factors will want to see is a ledger of orders that can be collected. This makes it ideal for eBay or Amazon sellers who don’t have a long history of taking out loans.
Why Factoring Might not be Ideal for Your Company
Factoring isn’t for everyone. Granting another company the right to manage your credit-control operations could interfere with your customer-relations strategy, and may have a damaging impact upon your brand image.
Sometimes the factoring companies charge fees that can be deceptive as well. Double check every contract before signing. What seems generous at first can soon rack up a mountain of fees by the end of the factoring term.
Factoring may not suit online sellers with a global customer base. Many eCommerce businesses sell all over the world; that’s the beauty of the Internet. However, factors tend to prefer working in local currency. If you need credit to expand overseas, Bitcoin-based lenders like Bitbond could be a much better solution.
Finally, factoring comes with a risk factor. If you can’t maintain your sales volume, the factor’s fees can be just as crippling as APR on small business loans.
However, if you are confident of your ability to exploit new business opportunities, and you don’t have the money to do so, factoring is definitely worth considering. Whatever you do, shop around and investigate all of your options. If conventional banks have failed you, don’t worry. Whether crowd-funding, Bitcoin-based lending, or factoring, alternatives are emerging to help online businesses succeed.