Afterpay U.S.: The Omnichannel Dilemma
In 2018, Nick Molnar, the founder of the Australia-based online payment service Afterpay began its expansion to the U.S. market. The service had gained a loyal following in Australia by enabling customers to pay for online purchases through four interest-free installments. Customer advocacy and the brand's ability to improve customer acquisition for its retail partners had contributed to strong network effects, leading to rapid growth. In the United States, however, competitors were abundant, the regulatory environment was unfamiliar, brand awareness was lacking and retailers were seeking to partner with service providers capable of supporting an omnichannel experience. This new set of challenges required Afterpay to reevaluate its strategy: should the company fast-track the rollout of its offline offering in the United States or was it prudent to wait to acquire a larger customer base to justify the capital expenditure and operational changes this would require?