Klarna now directly connects Irish online shoppers to in-store experts

16 Aug 2022

Image: © Max_Images/Stock.adobe.com

With its new Virtual Shopping offering, Klarna is hoping to improve the online experience for consumers and build brand loyalty for retailers.

Swedish ‘buy now, pay later’ fintech Klarna has launched its Virtual Shopping offering in Ireland today (16 August).

Launched in countries including the UK and US in May, Virtual Shopping directly connects online shoppers with in-store experts through live chats and video calls to received product advice and ask questions.

For retailers, the offering is designed to help in-store teams bring their expertise beyond the walls of physical stores to shoppers online. They can share photos and videos of items as well as demo products live from the store, from home or even a dark store distribution centre.

Klarna believes Virtual Shopping can drive brand engagement and loyalty while also “increasing footfall to high street stores and reducing return rates”.

Citing figures from the Central Statistics Office, Klarna said that while online shopping has risen to new heights in recent years, in-store shopping remains the dominant channel in Ireland, with e-commerce transactions accounting only for 6.1pc of Irish retail sales in May 2022.

Klarna’s own data also suggests that Irish consumers are looking for the same level of assistance shopping online as they get in stores.

More than three-quarters (85pc) of shoppers surveyed by the company believe that retailers need to invest in new technology, while 34pc think that offering more personalised services is a priority for retailers and 41pc cited product recommendations.

David Sandström, Klarna’s marketing chief, said that the company wants to provide the “world’s best shopping experience, whether that is online or in store”.

“In the past, online shopping has been missing a key element: human interaction. With Virtual Shopping, we replicate the brick-and-mortar experience of receiving personalised advice from an in-store expert and bring it to the online realm,” he said.

“This will empower our partnered retailers around the world to bring their online stores to life and build customer relationships that last.”

After raising $1bn funding in March 2021, the ‘buy now, pay later’ pioneer became the most valuable fintech company in Europe with a $31bn valuation. This was closely followed by another $639m bumper round that brought its valuation to $45.6bn.

However, the start-up’s valuation was slashed to $6.7bn last month following the closure of its latest funding round of $800m. In May of this year, CEO Sebastian Siemiatkowski said Klarna was cutting 10pc of its workforce around the world following a “tumultuous year”.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic