By providing mentorship and flexibility to their funding, Wayflyer is giving e-commerce owners working capital when they need it most
Picture this: You’re running an e-commerce store and the aftershocks of a pandemic and shifting global landscape are still reverberating around your business. Your customers expect quality, fast, and reliable products and you clamber to fill order backlogs as supply chain bottlenecks and shipping delays stack up.
You realize an important truth about running your business: If you make an order today, it takes three months to land. In that three-month hiatus, you need to fund not only the orders, but also your own operations. Sound familiar?
Cash-flow is critical for your e-commerce store and more times than not, outside funding is needed to buoy business and allow for agility in leaner times.
Bank loans can be difficult to secure, and VC funding is drying up this year, leaving e-commerce business owners struggling. Still, even in uncertainty, opportunity may knock: E-commerce merchants and brands can build cash-flow through loans with Wayflyer, which offers e-commerce businesses a financing platform layered with Big Data analytics.
Founded in 2019, Ireland-based Wayflyer is addressing a consistent challenge in e-commerce which has exacerbated in the last couple of years. Online businesses regularly face shortages with working capital, as funds flowing into their accounts are often not aligning with expenditures because outgoings need to be made on a regular basis, but incoming funds face reconciliation and other delays.
“One of the key benefits for e-commerce businesses to work with us is that our loans can be in your account within 24 hours,” says Jack Pierse, co-founder and CFO of Wayflyer.
Even in best-case scenarios, VC firms and traditional financial institutions simply can’t release access to funding at that speed.
The funding space today is challenging: Venture capital investments will see their sharpest drop in more than two decades this year, surpassing the declines of the dot-com crash and the financial crisis, Bloomberg writes.
Also, according to 2022 data, three-fifths of small and medium-sized enterprises said that they currently need funding to ease day-to-day cash-flow issue
What funding specialists such as Pierse has witnessed is a contraction that isn’t letting up anytime soon. “Interest rates have risen and most banks and traditional funding sources have pulled back, and it’s up to us to keep funding brands and give them working capital,” he says.
E-commerce owners can apply for funding that may award them a loan ranging from $10,000 to $40 million. The Wayflyer team accesses the business’s e-commerce platform and back-end data to gauge if the company receives funding. The pass rate sits steadily around 50%, Pierse notes.
Once approved for funding, often within just 24 to 72 hours, owners can access the funding immediately, and can start to pay back the funding as a fixed percentage of their daily sales.
“What is attractive to many businesses is that Wayflyer doesn’t take any equity in exchange for funding offers, unlike what VCs do,” says Pierse, highlighting an important upside for startups that don’t want to weaken their equity structure when accessing funding.
Wayflyer also stresses how flexibility is at the heart of their loans. Business owners can choose the funding option that best suits their needs, from investing in inventory or marketing campaigns or widening their employee base.
A useful piece of the funding puzzle is the mentorship Wayflyer offers to successful e-commerce applicants. With the loan comes expertise on managing that investment, courtesy of Wayflyer’s experts in business operations and leadership.
“Our account managers do a deep dive with marketing teams or agencies to let them know what we are seeing in the market and how to set up their funding for success,” says Pierse.
Since Wayflyer is underwriting these businesses, they want to see them excel, as well. Pierse says their team asks businesses to connect their Shopify back-ends to the Wayflyer app in order to give a comprehensive view of business operations and in turn enable the Wayflyer team “to offer them advice on how to spend their investment in the most efficient way.”
According to Pierse, around two-thirds of Wayflyer’s customers today reside in North America, with the remainder in Western Europe (mainly the U.K.) and Australia.
He also adds how partnering with Shop Circle is slated to be an extremely win-win situation for both businesses. “Shop Circle has a large number of customers that need financing and want direction on the best tools to use and that’s where we come in.”
Remember the example that led this report? That wasn’t fictitious but the true story of Wayflyer’s first customer, BionicGym. Managed by medical doctor-turned-entrepreneur Dr. Louis Crowe, BionicGym sells products to help thousands of people around the world exercise from the comfort of their home or office. Through electrical stimulation, BionicGym can double the basal metabolic rate in a low setting, or burn as many as 500 calories per hour for more experienced users.
In mid-2020, the fitness brand faced a major challenge when it fell behind on orders and couldn’t deliver for two months due to COVID shuttering their factories in China.
After engaging with Wayflyer in May 2020, the following three months proved to be the most successful months in the company’s history at that point. Sales shot up 259% compared to the three months’ prior on the back of a more stable inflow of inventory, and increased marketing spend.
What BionicGym’s experience reveals is how much of an uphill journey securing working capital can be for growing businesses. But with the right partner who offers both funding and expertise, e-commerce brands can maintain operations, and scale not only quickly, but sustainably.