My story in Klarna started with consumer banking. I was initially hired to kick-start consumer-facing banking products within Klarna. After successful product tryouts with Bank Accounts, Savings Accounts, Mortgages, Send/Receive Money, and Pay Back to Klarna experiences, I have been asked to lead the design of a challenging project called Shopping.
In summary, Shopping Project is a way to pay with Klarna without involving any Klarna-integrated merchants. I joined a cross-functional team of 12 as a sole designer, taking over for a colleague who left the company. During my time on the team, our small group developed a fully-fledged product area at Klarna. We ended up shipping parts of our work to 100% of users and our product led the company's expansion to the US market.
Klarna has multiple payment methods in every market it is in. Unlike the popular knowledge of Buy Now Pay Later products, Klarna also offers instant payment options via Debit/Credit Cards or directly from Bank Account. This makes Klarna a very similar solution to Paypal and indeed Paypal is the biggest competitor of Klarna at the moment.
Payment Methods in Klarna are very independent so Merchants can choose what type of method they would like to add to their checkout. They are not limited to adding whole methods in one.
For years Klarna was struggling to grow and expand new markets due to heavy dependency on external merchant integrations. C level in Klarna, invested in a task force in the company to find out a way to shop with Klarna without involving integrated merchants.
Shopping was an internal name for the whole initiative. It includes brand/item discovery, in-app browser, universal wish list, and, disposable virtual credit card experiences.
Up until our team began in-person user testing in the US, Shopping wasn’t designed to easily facilitate an in-app payment experience. It was designed to put all on one screen while highlighting the brand discovery without giving information about how to pay with Klarna.
Three important product experiences thought independently rather than looking at the experience in a journey like Find/Discover Brands > Optionally Add to Wish List > Pay with Klarna.
The most important part of the journey Payment Experience is superficially handled. Some parts of the experience are ambiguous.
The company's strategy changed after the redesign of the brand from blue to pink Klarna. Previously B2B model changed from a merchant-first to a consumer-first approach.
Klarna was struggling to expand in the US by targeting only US merchants. Management wanted to give Shopping a shot with a big marketing push highlighting our new direct-to-consumer product for the US market.
The business strategy of the in-app browser was to increase stickiness and allow users to shop within the in-app browser without letting them continue their process outside of the app like another desktop browser.
This would allow Klarna to earn a new revenue channel through affiliations. That's why we have worked relentlessly to improve the experience of the browser. Here you can see the first version we shipped during the US expansion.
To able to support the business strategy limitations of in-app browser, we have developed an idea of automation which we called Klarna Assistant. Assistant allows you to use the in-app browser without using a single input field and increase the speed of the checkout experience significantly.
For the Klarna Assistant branding project, we have gathered a branding team of 4. One product designer, one brand designer, one motion designer, and one copywriter.
Together we have designed the tone of voice, motion footprint, and product branding of the assistant.
Klarna has a world-class brand and marketing team. Before the US launch, the team identified the potential of The American drag queen culture as an explosive pop cultural movement where shopping holds a pivotal role and is celebrated rather than shunned.
After the insight, we targeted the community that consumes content from the movement. The result was compelling, well-crafted product met with a creative campaign. We have reached people extensively praised from both within and outside the drag community.
Number of wish listed items in first month of launch
2 million items
Number of users who successfully purchased with One-time card in first month of launch
1 million users
Time at checkout from shopping bag to the point of purchase
~2 Minutes > ~18 Seconds
After successful results of shopping in the US market, Klarna has changed its brand face from Smoooth payments to Smoooth shopping. After getting millions of users in the following months, tens of thousands of merchants reached Klarna to be able to add payment methods to their checkout. Today, US is the biggest market of Klarna.
Shopping expansion of the US market is studied as a modal of the expansion strategy. The new modal is applied to all new markets following.
Alignment within Klarna
Since Klarna's future direction was unknown and direct-to-consumer products were seen as experimental, the process of product ideation was mostly directed by the intuition of Klarna's management team.
I was able to collaborate and influence the C level in the company but the lack of a concrete business plan and long-term product strategy made the whole project more challenging than any other projects in Klarna at that time period.
I’ve found that design polish bugs often get de-prioritized the closer the team gets to launch. Functional bugs often take priority and design polish isn’t actively revisited after shipping.
I've identified this problem as a team ritual issue and organized weekly design quality checks. After getting to know each engineer, the process was particularly helpful. I was able to assign bug tickets for engineers who are more interested in specific topics which leads to more efficient and faster execution.
Communicate more broadly
And align with partner teams earlier. Working with partner teams to understand how the ecosystem as a whole could be positively affected.
Particularly we have seen pushbacks from payment and merchant teams as they were seeing Shopping as a future replacement for their products. But this could be avoided with better communication.
After a successful product launch, new market launch, and a direct contribution to the company’s strategy, I have moved to lead the design of all consumer-facing card products in Klarna.
Internally consumer-facing card products are also seen as the next step of shopping products which allows customers to pay with Klarna anywhere without a need to use an in-app browser, directly through physical or virtual credit cards.
Started as a sole designer and worked on a scalable organization model for design. After defining the product strategy with product and engineering leaders, I hired and led 8 product designers to a cross-functional teams who own problem spaces inside of Card problem area. Today Klarna Card is the most successful direct-to-consumer product in Klarna, used by millions of people every month.