In only the past couple of months there has been a stream of announcements from IKEA that all contribute to what it has been describing as its ‘transformational agenda’.
It announced the opening of its smallest retail location so far – in Canada, it opened a pop-up breakfast-in-bed cafe in East London where beds could be booked for free until midday, it has been testing motion-sensing mirrors that compliment passers-by, it intends to boost the number of visits it makes to shoppers homes to 1,000 per year as it seeks to learn more about its customers, and it is set to test a number of different retail formats around the UK including the first Order and Collection Point.
What is most radical among its agenda objectives is its over-arching move to become more customer-centric. This sounds almost ludicrous because every single retailer the world over has been repeating this mantra for years. But for IKEA it has been very successful to date on operating an almost customer-unfriendly model.
The lengthy prescriptive journey shoppers have to take around its stores, the challenging construction of its flat-pack furniture, its modest online offer, and its limited number of out-of-town stores has all been a part of its uniqueness.
While nothing is broken at the retailer – stores and online sales are growing – there is a recognition that the wind is blowing a different way and every clever retailer knows to embrace the change before you become redundant.
At a recent presentation at the BRC Symposium Gillian Drakeford, country manager for UK at IKEA, admitted: “A day out at IKEA is not necessarily how people want to spend their time. We now need a different mind-set. There was too much focus on the machine and we now need to put the customer at the centre.”
For IKEA to recognise that it has to change and adapt to consumers’ new ways of shopping – with convenience, mobile and digital firmly part of their everyday lives – highlights that nobody is immune from the effects of the revolution running through the sector.
While the company once told us to chuck out our chintz in one of its clever advertising campaigns it is now throwing out its old-school thinking and adapting to a different marketplace.
Glynn Davis, editor, Retail Insider
K3 Retail deliver multi-channel solutions that enable retailers to create joined up shopping experiences for their customers whether they choose to buy on-line, direct, in-store or via mobile. It has over 20 years’ experience delivering award winning solutions, to more than 175 internationally recognised retail brands.