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hoolah is transforming omnichannel Buy Now Pay Later with help from Salesforce
Omnichannel Buy Now Pay Later company hoolah is helping a network of more than 1,000 merchants bring responsible affordability to consumers across Asia with Salesforce.
hoolah is a Singapore-based fintech startup that is finding success with a new approach to omnichannel Buy Now Pay Later. Launched in 2018, the company now operates a 1,500-strong merchant network across Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
hoolah operates on a familiar buy-now-pay-later model — with a critical difference. The company does not charge consumers interest or hidden fees. Stuart Thornton, CEO and Co-Founder of hoolah, calls this approach ‘responsible affordability’.
Thornton says the aim is to enable consumers to enrich their lifestyle while avoiding debt traps and inflated fees. “For us, it’s critical that consumers don’t go into debt. We want them to improve, enhance or enrich their lifestyle — not make their situation worse with a business model that is driven by late fees.”
It’s a refreshing approach in the largely debt-driven Buy Now Pay Later space, and one that is winning approval from merchants too. By breaking consumer payments into three interest-free repayments, hoolah enables merchants to increase basket size, reduce cart abandonment and drive up-sell opportunities without pushing consumers into debt.
hoolah’s omni-channel online and in-store payment system removes risk for its merchants with full up-front payments. This is made possible thanks to the company’s proprietary risk management engine.
“Our risk management engine enables us to put parameters around consumer spending and use data analytics to assess whether the consumer can make the purchase or not,” explains Thornton. “As we are taking on all the risk, we need to be controlling that risk in real time, order by order and consumer by consumer.”
Building a scalable sales structure
The rapid growth of the company’s merchant network is evidence of the effectiveness of the hoolah approach. But it’s not the risk management engine alone that is driving the company's success. Digital transformation is built into the DNA of the company.
Thornton and his team launched the company on the Salesforce Customer 360 platform. He says Sales Cloud was critical for building a scalable sales structure for the company from day one.
“We had a clear methodology around how we wanted to operate,” he explains. “We wanted to build our sales methodology into Sales Cloud to give us visibility into merchant activity and the ability to forecast our sales revenue against each stage in the sales process.”
“Sales Cloud is a single source of truth that our sales team uses to understand prospect engagement on a daily basis,” adds Jolyn Tay, VP Commercial at hoolah. “They can more easily navigate the decision-making landscape at prospect companies, and when a deal is closed, the relationships team can take over and understand how to manage the merchant without a lot of back and forth.”
The company is also using Commerce Cloud to streamline merchant onboarding. Akul Dewan, Director Merchant Growth at hoolah, explains that merchants using Commerce Cloud will be able to integrate hoolah more quickly and at a fraction of the cost.
“Typically, if a merchant wanted to use our API to integrate directly into hoolah it would take around two to three months and cost about $40,000,” he explains. “But Commerce Cloud will shorten that timeframe to a couple of weeks at a significantly reduced cost.”
That’s all part of Thornton’s vision to keep their merchants at the centre of everything they do. “It’s not just ‘customer centricity’. It’s ‘customer obsession’,” he says.
“Deciding to deploy Salesforce right from the start came after an internal debate, and we have witnessed the benefits right away. I know that we have the ability to scale with this system, which is critical as we rapidly expand.”
Putting people first
Employee engagement is also a high priority at hoolah. Known internally as ‘hoolahgans’, Thornton says the company's employees are key to achieving its strategy.
“While our tech solutions are very important to our operations, all companies are made of people. Our strength is the passion, energy, drive and determination of our people.”
The company’s positive, pro-active culture was put to the test during the Covid-19 pandemic. Thornton says communication was critical in a work-from-home environment, and the company used Salesforce Chatter to enable real-time collaboration and information sharing.
“We also invested in vouchers from a local retailer so people could buy chairs and desks, and we drove engagement with virtual coffee mornings, games nights and town halls. Most people adapted extremely well.”
As for the company’s merchants, hoolah’s online payment system helped many make a swift shift from in-store sales to e-commerce as consumers rushed online.
“Many of our merchants saw growth in online sales and increases in basket size during the pandemic,” says Thornton. “While hoolah was born digital, we want to assist our merchants on their digital transformation journey, and the pandemic has certainly accelerated that for many.”
Supporting future expansion
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