Like it or not, the equipment rental industry is subject to the same tech disruptions as the retail industry. And just like retail, enabling digital commerce tops the list of equipment rental industry trends.
Rental businesses can achieve strategic goals by offering their services via online channels. And in doing so, they’ll gain a significant advantage over competitors.
But what are the key features that online rental businesses absolutely must offer customers?
We surveyed consumers who’ve recently rented equipment to learn the online capabilities that improved their overall experience. This data helps set a benchmark for consumer expectations and technology usage.
• The ability to browse inventory and reserve equipment online is the top priority for equipment rental customers. [Read more]
• Rental customers want to sign rental agreements online, which can require electronic signature software. [Read more]
• Online payment submission is the preferred method of paying for a rental—this calls for platform security and customer profiles. [Read more]
Online Rental Reservation Capabilities Should Be Your Top Priority
It’s pretty simple: You need to offer the ability to reserve equipment online.
Nearly three-quarters of our respondents said that online reservation capabilities positively impact their overall rental experience. More and more customers expect the ability to reserve their equipment online, and rental businesses that don’t offer that ability risk falling behind the competition.
Of course, the ability to reserve equipment online is dependent on first browsing a business’ online inventory—which was also among the top desired features.
Both browsing and reserving rental equipment inventory marks the beginning of the customer experience. Keep the below experience in mind when you’re designing the digital experience for your rental business.
Digital Rental Agreements Positively Impact Customer Experience
Renters must sign-off on a rental agreement/contract before acquiring their equipment. Details of this agreement typically include:
- Listing details of equipment rented
- Scheduling the duration of the rental
- Setting the price per day for each piece of equipment as well as any security deposits
- Defining penalties for late returns
- Setting parameters for delivery and/or drop-off and pick-up
Respondents indicate the ability to generate agreements online and give customers a means to electronically sign them are the second-most impactful online equipment rental feature.
Most equipment rental software features digital agreement and signature capabilities. But if they don’t, electronic signature software is a great substitute to support this critical capability. Either way, 39 percent of our respondents find these online rental agreement forms “very useful.”
Online Payments Improve Equipment Rental Experience
After online reservations and rental agreement forms, the ability to make payments online is the third-most crucial capability for online equipment renting. A majority of our respondents find online payment capabilities “very useful.”
While it might seem obvious that online payment is a top preferred feature for rental customers, there are some less obvious payment features that businesses need to keep in mind. A couple of these features include:
- Security: You’ll want to work with your payment processor to ensure your critical online payment information is secured. Failure to do your due diligence could result in a data breach that compromises valuable information and jeopardizes your entire business.
- Customer profiles: If you have regular rental customers, you’ll want to offer some sort of customer profile so that repeat renters have a more seamless experience. These profiles could store valuable information like contact and payment details.
Ensure Your Equipment Rental Software Addresses Improves Renter Experiences
It’s interesting to note that customers’ most preferred online rental features address the primary chronological stages of the rental customer journey:
- First, the renter browses inventory and reserves the equipment.
- Then, the rental agreement gets digitally signed.
- Finally, the renter submits payment.
Think of this journey when adopting your new equipment rental software. The new system should enable a better experience across all of these steps in the process—both externally for the customer and internally for yourself and your team.
Make sure you bring this up with vendors when reviewing different software options to make your selection. And if you need help narrowing down your list of potential vendors, give us a call at (855)-220-0523 and one of our equipment rental software advisors would be glad to help you out.