Klarna wants to hit the jackpot with a one-time shopping app

An application with which consumers can search for any online store, track shipments and receive price alerts. That’s what Klarna promises with its new one-stop app. Will it be the western WeChat?

“The Ultimate Shopping Browser”

Klarna is launching a new app that promises to be an all-in-one experience for online shoppers. The Swedish payment platform says consumers could get lost in an increasingly confusing landscape of different e-commerce apps. Until now, the company was best known for its pay-after-delivery service, giving consumers 21 days to pay for their online orders. But it is now significantly expanding its service.

Users can use the app to search for products in different online stores, receive offers and price drop notifications, save items, track product deliveries, and manage their payments and returns. The app allows users to pay after delivery, even in online shops that are not a direct partner of Klarna. In the future, the plan is to centralize loyalty cards, run joint promotions and provide live streaming.

Klarna calls it shopping 2.0: a department store for the whole world, or the “ultimate shopping navigator of the future”. This ultimate browser is free for consumers, but retailers pay a commission: a flat rate and a percentage on each purchase. Customer data remains in the hands of the individual retailer, according to Belgian news site HLN. The application will be launched simultaneously in 15 countries, including Benelux, Germany and the United States.

The quest for the ecosystem

Online ecosystems such as these are increasingly seen as the future of e-commerce. In China, WeChat is already a dominant all-in-one app, with which consumers do everything from chat to shopping. The Chinese usually don’t even have a wallet anymore in big cities because they have WeChat. Even scheduling doctor appointments and paying fines is done through the app.

In the West, no dominant platform has yet emerged. Yet the ever-growing branches of tech giants such as Facebook (now Meta), Google (excuse us, Alphabet) and, of course, Amazon suggest their arrival. The efforts made with Google Pay and Google Shopping are already moving in this direction. PayPal is also in competition: the American payment platform recently launched its own one-stop application, where consumers can buy and pay, manage their expenses and even exchange cryptocurrencies.

Too much transparency?

For these platforms, it is a question of capturing as many consumers as possible as quickly as possible. The challenge is to collect consumer data – within one app across all categories and retailers – and create the ultimate loyalty. Every penny people spend online should be a penny within the ecosystem. It’s the jackpot.

The only question is whether large retailers will be happy if consumers swap their app for Klarna’s app and can thus compare prices and products with just one click across all online shops. After all, that’s why the Swedes announced the acquisition price comparison prize runner before yesterday. Do merchants want so much transparency online?

Want to learn more about the battle between online ecosystems and their impact on the retail landscape? Read all about it in the new book The future of shopping: reinventing retailwhich will be published by LannooCampus in March 2022.

Edwin S. Wolfe