Meet Elin, who recently raised $2.7 million (€2.5 million) in pre-seed funding led by Title Line and Sequoia Arch. The company wants to offer some flexibility when it comes to e-commerce online payments. Instead of paying for the items before they are shipped, Elin allows customers to try something before they buy.
This experience is familiar if you’ve shopped at Zalando, the popular e-commerce clothing retailer that has turned the try-before-you-buy option into one of its selling points. Essentially, when it’s time to pay for the items in your online cart, Zalando customers have access to several payment options. They can enter their card details or use PayPal like any other website.
But they have the option to pay later. This is not the ‘buy now, pay later’ type of Klarna, which has the ability to spread large payouts over multiple installments. Users enter their payment card details and their card is charged a few days after receiving the goods.
This way, if you change your mind and want to return the item, you can block the payment before it happens. This is very important when selling clothes because it can be difficult to choose the right size. Items may also look different when you can see them in person.
There are over 300 people working specifically for Zalando Payments. That will give you an idea of the importance of the company’s in-house payment solution. If you find the same t-shirt on Zalando or another clothing store, you can decide to buy it on Zalando based on this feature alone.
Make ‘try before you buy’ a priority
Many companies could benefit from such a payment experience. That’s why Elaine wants to offer try-before-you-buy to small retailers and brands. This is especially important in France and other European markets where credit cards are accepted, such as the U.S. The product currently works with Shopify, along with other e-commerce platforms in the near future.
Once you start thinking about trying before you buy, you’ll realize that it’s connected to internal returns. That’s why Elin not only allows you to try before you buy, but also manages the return system.
“By trying before you buy, you’re only paying for what you decide to keep,” said El Mehdi Hatchad, founder and CEO of Elin. “We’re also helping retailers convert return requests into exchanges within our returns interface.”
When a customer wants to return an item, Elin will ask you a couple of questions to narrow down why they want to return an item. Wrong size or wrong color? Want your money back? Want the same item in different sizes? Need another item? Want a gift card?
If people want a refund, Elin will offer you a gift card with more money than you originally spent, so that retailers don’t take money out of their cash balance.
If customers want the same item in different sizes, Elin can directly view the retail listing and place it separately. Depending on the option you choose, Elin can seamlessly adjust your upcoming card transaction. This is a much smoother experience for the end customer as they don’t have to send something back, wait for a refund and then buy something else a week or two later.
By default, Elin gives you five days to decide whether or not to keep something. Start tracking packages to explain payment details and include a link to the returns portal.
Elin uses pre-authorization requests to verify the validity of Visa, MasterCard and CB cards to avoid payment defaults. The startup charges marketing fees based on successful sales network.
“The way we look at different payment options and services is that you want to offer something for every use case,” Hatchad said. Some customers want to enter their card details and proceed. Others want to pay only through PayPal. Some people want to buy now and pay later using Klarna, Alma, Scalapay or any other BNPL payment option. In some cases, customers like the convenience of Apple Pay.
And now, Elin believes it will add another logo to the checkout flow for those looking to delay their online payments a little. All of these payment companies deal with cart abandonment. Adding more options can improve conversion rates. And it’s true that improving overall merchandise volume is a great way to convince online retailers that they should use your payment product.
In addition to Title and Arc, Motier Venture (Galeries Lafayette owners’ family office), Financière Saint James, Marc Menasé (Founders Future) and Guillaume Princen have invested in the startup.