H&M sets trend: buy now, pay later

H&M payment

Soon, shoppers at H&M stores will no longer have to pay right away: they can wait for up to two weeks after the purchase. The trend, which comes from the e-commerce world, looks set to conquer physical retail as well.


Time to think

It's a new service for the consumer: take an item home and only pay after two weeks of thinking about the purchase. If you change your mind, you can bring it back for free. The principle has already been applied in quite a few webshops, and will now also become available in physical sales points.

H&M is launching the 'buy now, pay later' option in its Dutch stores starting October, and Belgian stores will follow soon after, according to spokeswoman Marianne Nerinckx in De Standaard. The fashion chain intends to improve customer experience with this new service: "Why we do it? For the same reason we already offer a 'return in store' service, or free delivery. Customers expect an optimal shopping experience, whether it's online or offline."


European rollout

Customers register through their smartphone and scan a QR code at the register in the store. The bill comes later. Paying after the fact is customer-friendly: shoppers get to spread out their expenses according to their available budget and avoid buyer's regret. Sellers can increase conversion and still be guaranteed of payment. H&M introduced the system in its domestic market of Sweden, in collaboration with fintech company Klarna. The concept is now being rolled out in other European countries.


Retail experts are seeing a trend that will soon expand. "I think paying a while after the purchase will be popular in the future. More stores will start to use it," said Dutch retail professor Kitty Koelemeijer. RetailDetail's own expert Jorg Snoeck shares that conviction: "We're already seeing it in the rest of Europe: the trend has been set and everyone will have to join if they want to retain their customers." Consumer organisations on the other hand, are critical: they fear people with limited budgets will be seduced into spending more than they can afford.