Small business owners that need working capital to buy inventory but who don’t have assets to put up as collateral may be overlooking one potential resource that can help: the inventory they want to buy.
What is Inventory Financing?
With inventory financing, the supplies, materials, or products you’re buying act as your collateral, which secures the loan. Inventory short-term loans and lines of credit are designed to provide fast access to cash flow to purchase inventory.
How Do Inventory Loans Work?
Borrowers looking to buy inventory but who don’t have all of the capital required to place an order can take out inventory financing from lenders who specialize in this type of business financing.
Typically you can borrow about half of the value of the inventory, so you’ll still need to be able to pay for the rest.
Your loan is secured by the inventory you’re purchasing. That means that if you are unable to pay off the loan, the lender has the ability to seize the inventory to cover your debt. You’ll repay your loan like you would any other, with monthly payments of up to a year that include fees, interest, and principal.
Pros and Cons of Inventory Financing
Of all the loan options out there, there’s no other quite as well-suited for buying inventory like this one. Still, there are drawbacks to consider.
Inventory gets you the capital you need to cover business expenses related to inventory purchases fast. If you took out a loan with a traditional bank, it could take weeks or months for your application to be approved. Inventory financing happens quickly.
The inventory you buy can help you boost your business during a slow season when you might not have cash on hand to make inventory purchases. Then you can repay the loan during your busy season.
Another benefit is that even if you don’t qualify for other types of financing, you may qualify for inventory loans. So if you run a startup that’s been turned down for a bank or SBA loan because of your lack of creditworthiness, know that this may still be an option.
The first drawback to consider is that you may have a higher interest rate with inventory loans than you would other types of business loans. If you qualify for lower rates with traditional bank loans, consider those first.
Also, these loans typically are short-term loans and must be repaid within a year. If your budget can’t accommodate this expense, you could end up in hot water.
Finally, you can’t use these loans for anything but inventory.
What are the Types of Inventory Financing?
There are several lenders that offer different types of business inventory financing to consider.
Inventory Line of Credit
If you aren’t looking for a lump sum of cash to buy inventory with, consider a business line of credit. You are approved for a certain credit limit but you can borrow up to that full amount and repay it. This is great if you have continual inventory purchasing needs.
Some financing lenders specialize in inventory factoring. In this case, you sell your purchase orders or accounts receivable to purchase the inventory you need to fulfill the order. The lender takes a fee.
Another funding option, though one that isn’t specific to buying inventory, includes business credit cards. These are a form of revolving line of credit that you can use to purchase inventory, office supplies, and other items at stores and online.
Merchant Cash Advance
While it’s not a type of loan, a merchant cash advance can help you get the new inventory you need if you don’t have great credit and can’t qualify for other financing options.
Where to Find Inventory Financing
There are online lenders that specialize in inventory financing. Start by asking for recommendations from others in your industry. Most banks do not offer inventory loans.
What is the Best Way to Finance Inventory?
The best way to finance inventory is to find a financing company that offers terms you are comfortable with. Consider the fees or interest you’ll pay and how quickly you will have to pay the loan back.
Do your homework to find out how the company fares in terms of customer service. You don’t want to get a loan with a low rate if you can’t ever get customer service on the phone to answer questions.
If you are able to pay the loan faster, can you save money, or is there a prepayment penalty? Ask plenty of questions before landing on a lender.
How Much is the Cost of Financing the Inventory?
Just like any small business loans, inventory financing options come with a cost. Most charge interest, and depending on your business and personal credit, those rates can vary wildly. The better your credit, the lower the rate and the converse is true as well. If your credit scores are poor, you’ll pay a lot more to get the loan.
How to Qualify for Inventory Financing
Before applying for an inventory financing loan, check your business and personal credit scores. If you don’t have a business credit history, lenders may look more at your personal scores, so make sure they’re up to snuff.
Unlike bank loans that require collateral, you won’t have to put up any business or personal assets for the loan. You may be asked to provide order details on the inventory you’re looking to buy so the lender knows the value and can determine how much to lend you.
How to Get Inventory Financing
The application process for inventory financing works differently with different lenders, but typically doesn’t require much more than a few details about your business, how long it’s been in operation, and your annual revenues. You may be asked details about the inventory you’re looking to purchase as well.
Based on the value of the inventory you want to purchase, the lender will determine the amount of money it will lend you. If approved, you’ll sign the loan agreement, which includes your loan amount, interest rate, and repayment schedule. Your funds will be deposited into your business bank account in as little as a day.
Nav’s Verdict: Inventory Financing
If you don’t have the capital to purchase products or raw materials on hand, it’s nice to know that there is small business financing like inventory loans and lines of credit to help!