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Sweden’s Klarna expands into U.S. payments market; names management team

BY Marianne Wilson

Stockholm — The U.S. payments market is getting a new player: Klarna, a Swedish e-commerce company focused on simplifying buying, plans to expand to the U.S. market in early 2015. The nine-year old company has an impressive track record in Europe that includes more than 25 million users and 45,000 retailers including Asos, Spotify and Zara.

To drive U.S. expansion, Klarna has recruited Brian Billingsley from Alliance Data as CEO of North America; former Bill Me Later and PayPal director Carol Hargrave as chief marketing officer; and former Apple payments counsel, Jin Han, as chief legal counsel for North America.

"We founded Klarna with the vision to simplify buying online. By putting the consumer experience first, we can make the mobile device a platform for shopping, and not just browsing," said Sebastian Siemiatkowski, CEO and co-founder of Klarna. "Across Europe, retailers who use Klarna have seen increased mobile conversion from a few percentage points to close to fifty percent on average. That translates directly into more sales for retailers. Now Klarna is extending that opportunity to the United States."

Klarna’s checkout solution separates buying from paying. A consumer making an online purchase enters only top-of-mind information like an email address and ZIP code to buy an item. From there, Klarna assumes all the risk from the purchase transaction, pays the retailer immediately, and collects the amount due from the consumer within 14 days.

Consumers can settle the transaction with any preferred payment method. The process is made possible by Klarna’s proprietary risk assessment protocol. By using advanced data analytics and modeling, Klarna gives approved consumers a seamless buying experience and uses incremental identification to deter potential fraudsters.

"Klarna’s ‘buy now, pay later’ approach means consumers check out quickly and don’t have to pay until they’ve got the goods in their hands," said Brian Billingsley, Klarna CEO of North America. "For retailers, this means more successful sales and a guarantee that they will get paid immediately, whether or not the consumer reimburses Klarna."

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Fairway Market appoints new CEO

BY CSA STAFF

Fairway has appointed Jack Murphy as CEO. Murphy was a co-founder of natural foods grocer Fresh Fields before it was sold to Whole Foods, and most recently served as CEO of Earth Fare, an organics and natural food chain with locations in the Southeast and Midwest.

"We believe that Jack brings very strong leadership to Fairway, and possesses highly relevant marketing and merchandising skills that are complementary to our organization," said Charles Santoro, chairman of Fairway Market. "Jack has developed and implemented business strategies for unique and highly differentiated brands, and brings great enthusiasm, perspective and leadership to the company."

"I am very excited to lead this iconic food retailer known for its longstanding and unwavering commitment to providing a huge selection of high quality foods at great values to its millions of customers,” said Murphy. “Fairway Market is a true industry leader in innovative and exciting foods of all types. I'm honored to join this very special retail company and look forward to working with the entire Fairway Market team."

In addition to co-founding and serving as chief operating officer of Fresh Fields and as CEO of Earth Fare, Murphy was an operating partner at McCown Deleeuw & Co., the private equity firm that owned the 24 Hour Fitness chain; and a VP of operations at Purity Supreme Supermarkets.

Bill Sanford, who was appointed Interim CEO in February while the company undertook a search for a new CEO, has decided to leave to pursue other interests. Sanford joined the company in 2008 as chief administrative officer and then served as CFO and president before becoming Interim CEO.

"Bill has made significant contributions as a member of Fairway's management team for the last six years, and we greatly appreciate his leadership and commitment throughout his time at Fairway," Santoro added.

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Check out L’Oréal’s 2014 NEXT Generation Award winners

BY CSA STAFF

L'Oréal USA Women in Digital, a program that recruits, supports and promotes female entrepreneurs in technology, has announced the three new companies that have been selected as winners of its 2014 NEXT Generation Awards.

The winners — GLAMSQUAD, Jibo and Shareablee — were honored Thursday evening at an event in New York City hosted by athlete, fashion pioneer, actress and L'Oreal Paris spokeswoman Aimee Mullins, to celebrate both established and up-and-coming female leaders in technology.

"Each year we build upon the successes of years past, finding new ways to enhance the program and expand the reach and resources we provide to female entrepreneurs," stated Rachel Weiss, VP of digital innovation at L'Oréal USA and chair of L'Oréal USA Women in Digital. "This year's winners are among the best and brightest women in technology, with forward-thinking products that have the power to transform the way consumers interact with the beauty industry."

The L'Oréal USA Women in Digital NEXT Generation Awards are given to three female-founded companies considered game-changers in the technology space that have created innovative business solutions that underscore the needs of the modern day connected consumer. The winners were selected by L'Oréal executives, partners and an advisory board of female leaders in technology that include Arianna Huffington, chair, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group; Joanne Bradford, head of partnerships at Pinterest; Alexia Tsotsis, co-editor of TechCrunch; and Padmasree Warrior, chief technology and strategy officer of Cisco Systems.

Once selected to join the Women in Digital program, the winners are provided with the opportunity to launch and scale new technologies with L'Oréal brands. In partnership with L'Oréal's NEXT fund, a program to foster go-to-market experimentation across L'Oréal USA, L'Oréal brands will compete internally for the opportunity to work with these top entrepreneurs on their coveted pilots.

As a way to provide mentorship and act as a springboard for these young companies to launch and grow, L'Oréal also grants these entrepreneurs with access to its advisory board, network of venture capitalists and top executives.

2014 NEXT GENERATION AWARD WINNERS:

GLAMSQUAD — Victoria Eisner, co-founder and chief creative officer: GLAMSQUAD is an app-based beauty provider that delivers professional beauty services to the home or office in as little as an hour's notice.
Jibo — Cynthia Breazeal, founder: Created by Breazeal, a pioneer of social robotics and human robot interaction from the MIT Media Lab, Jibo is the world's first family robot that brings intelligence and helpfulness with heart to the connected home.
Shareablee — Tania Yuki, founder and CEO: Launched in 2013, Shareablee is an authority on audience intelligence, competitive benchmarking and actionable insights for social media. The official social media analytics partner of comScore, Shareablee measures a census of global properties and collects brand audience and engagement data across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.

As part of this year's Women in Digital program, L'Oréal is offering one full scholarship, valued at $15,000, for a woman to learn to code at Hackbright Academy in San Francisco. The first software engineering school created exclusively for women, Hackbright Academy is committed to providing students with a practical skill set and connecting them with the industry relationships they need to succeed. The L'Oréal scholarship recipient will be selected from a class of 40 students admitted to the program for the winter 2015 term.

"As the world's largest beauty company, L'Oréal has the opportunity to put women at the center of our innovation efforts, driving female entrepreneurs to innovate and push the boundaries of knowledge to become leaders in the digital arena," added Weiss. "As our Women in Digital program continues to grow, so will its reach and ability to shift society's mindset around women in technology."

Previous NEXT Generation Award winners and honorees include: Heather Marie of Shoppable, whose patent-pending proprietary technology allows digital media sites and mobile applications to sell third party products using a universal checkout, is now developing an ecommerce platform across all of L'Oréal's brands; Melody McCloskey of StyleSeat, whose online marketplace for stylists and beauty professionals to connect with clients has already raised $14 million in funding , recently partnered with L'Oréal's Professional Product division to bring their entire network of salon owners and stylists on board; and Kelsey Falter of Poptip piloted her social media data analysis technology with L'Oréal and quickly signed on brands among the likes of Yoplait, NFL, Spotify and Budweiser, before being acquired by Palantir, a big data company that's valued at $9 billion.

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