Koala app to speed up shopping

Hamburg-based start-up develops self-scanner, no waiting at checkout
30 April 2020

Contactless payment has become almost a magic word in the corona era. The limit for such a payment without a pin was doubled to EUR 50 in April to “boost contactless payment as hygienic”, according to a press release by the Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft. Now, the so-called Koala App by a start-up based in Elmshorn in the Hamburg-Metropolitan Reigion is launching on the market. “KOALAstands for buying easily and without having to wait in long queues,” said Christoph Schönfelder, who launched the self-scanning mobile phone solution with David Scharfschwerdt.

More than 5,000 app downloads in the test phase

“The customer enters the store, clicks on the espective shop in the app and clicks again to start shopping. From then on, he/she simply scans the barcode of the desired product on the shelf,” Schönfelder explained. When all the purchases have been done, the customer closes the function and receives an output code. This is then read out in the shop’s fast lane and the customer leaves without having to wait at the checkout as the receipt is transmitted electronically. Two supermarkets in Pinnerberg and two others in Hamburg are now offering the service. The app has been downloaded over 5,000 times since the test phase began in December 2019, said the founders.

Rethinking the checkout 

The KOALA app is not simply a solution for the Edeka Group, the largest German supermarket corporation, but is independent and could be used in drugstores, petrol stations or DIY stores and in other food shops, Schönfelder stressed. “We want to rethink the checkout process, remove the hurdle of the checkout and make “shopping more attractive*,” he added. Customers and shop assistants meet at the latest when the items are placed on the conveyor. That is no longer necessary thanks to the app. “The mobile phone has long since become our constant companion. So an app was the obvious choice especially as it’s much cheaper for retailers to set up unlike the sensors and cameras needed by Amazon Go-Stores,” said Schönfelfelder. 

Acceptance likely to take three years 

Schönfelder expects self-scanning to become widely accepted by 2023. “We hope to have a rollout in 2020.” Diverse retailers are already showing interest. “However, things have to calm down first as most retailers are still in (corona) crisis mindset.” At the moment, the start-up is offering a swift introduction to the payment system at greatly reduced fees. Apart from customer acquisition, Schönfelder and Scharfschwerdt are also open to another financing roundKOALA is funded by business angels presently and recently qualified for the Next Commerce Accelerator. After all, hardly any marketing investments are necessary, said Schönfelder. “We rely on the aha effect, when customers queueing in the slow lane watch how customers in the fast lane simply log off and leave without wasting time.”