Overstock on Wednesday launched a lease-to-own service via a partnership with Progressive Leasing, a wholly-owned subsidiary of lease-to-own retailer Aaron's, Inc. The option is added to Overstock's "Finance Hub," which also provides other financial services, including algorithm-based robo-advising investment services, lending, credit cards and insurance.
Customers can lease more than three million products for up to 12 months, according to a company press release emailed to Retail Dive. While customers must be approved for the option, they don't need credit to apply.
Lease-to-own orders are shipped after the first $49 payment. A customer will own a leased item if they opt for a 90-day purchase plan, an early lease buyout or make payments for 12 months. Overstock's standard return policy applies to lease-to-own purchases.
Lease-to-own retail has been around for a while, and can be used as an option for people with slim or poor credit histories or tight budgets. It may also appeal to anyone resistant to the idea of outright ownership, especially of bulky items that might be difficult or expensive to move.
But such programs have checkered track records with consumer advocates because of their steep fees and ultimately higher prices when compared to paying for an item in cash, with an installment plan or on layaway. The retailer's inherent financial risk of shipping items to customers who haven't paid in full is traditionally offset by the much higher final ticket that is collected once all, or at least most, of the payments are made.
Overstock founder and CEO Patrick Byrne in a statement touted the new option as yet one more payment choice for his customers, noting that the e-retailer already offers "our private label credit card, lease-to-own, and payment though PayPal, or dozens of top cryptocurrencies like bitcoin."
In May Sears expanded its own product leasing program, launched six years ago, to its namesake and Kmart websites, allowing customers to make purchases online of at least $200 in monthly, weekly or bi-weekly installments, according to a company blog post. Sears said it has processed a million leases since introducing the option.
Rent-A-Center has struggled to make good on the model, however, and has eased its financial woes in recent quarters only after shuttering stores. Their turnaround may take place under cover of private ownership, with the acquisition by Vintage Capital Management set to close in a matter of weeks.