Klarna’s image feature tool challenges Google and Amazon, enhancing shopping experience with AI-driven photo

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Klarna, the Swedish payments group, has unveiled a cutting-edge AI-driven shopping feature, created in collaboration with OpenAI technology, enabling users to purchase items instantly by simply taking a photo of them within the company’s mobile app. This trend mirrors numerous startups, such as Klarna, integrating AI into their offerings as they seek to enhance their market value in anticipation of future initial public offerings.

Launched on Wednesday by Klarna, this feature empowers users to simply point their phone at clothing or electronics, instantly discovering comparable products directly within the Klarna app, akin to Google Lens suggesting options based on camera-captured items.

This image recognition tool has been trained using data from PriceRunner, a price comparison service that Klarna acquired for nearly $1 billion. PriceRunner is in competition with major players such as Amazon, Google’s shopping comparison service, Google Shopping, and the French-founded company Kelkoo.

Klarna’s latest feature, according to Chief Marketing Officer David Sandström in a Wednesday interview, can recognize over 10 million items spanning categories like apparel, home decor, and electronics, facilitating price comparisons, retailer insights, and reviews. To ensure privacy, Sandström clarified that Klarna’s AI intentionally excludes images of individuals’ faces or bodies from its functionality.

Klarna has introduced its shopping lens in several countries, including the U.S., UK, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. The company, once Europe’s most valuable startup, offers online shopping with installment payments and has achieved profitability ahead of schedule, although its valuation has declined.

Founded in 2005, the company experienced significant growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering a zero-interest credit model that appealed to younger and credit-challenged consumers. At its peak, its market value reached $46 billion but later dropped by 85% to $6.7 billion, resulting in layoffs.

Klarna is now focused on leveraging AI to improve efficiency and achieve profitability.

In August 2023, the company reported a month of profit for the first time since 2020. Klarna has integrated OpenAI’s technology into its operations, with over half of its workforce having access to the OpenAI API platform.

(Source: Ryan Browne | CNBC | Supantha Mukherjee | Jane Merriman | Reuters)

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