IKEA is testing new store formats that free shoppers from the maze of aisles. The retailer has created different layouts for its stores, with the goal of making shopping easier and more enjoyable.
The ikea store is testing new formats that free shoppers from the maze of aisles. In one format, an aisle is replaced with a line of shelves and in another, the entire store has been turned into a giant open space.
IKEA is experimenting with two new store designs that tear up the layout of its famous maze-like showrooms, as the retailer tries to figure out how to keep physical stores relevant in the era of e-commerce.
Ingka Holding B.V., which runs the bulk of IKEA’s retail shops, reopened a site in Shanghai’s Xuhui neighborhood this month to test its “future store concept,” a place where customers might spend hours doing activities other than shopping. A cushioned, theater-like area where IKEA hopes people will hang out with friends, a restaurant that promotes sustainable food practices such as urban farming, and a “Maker’s Hub” where employees assist clients repair old and create new things sit among showrooms and a small-items store.
IKEA renovated a shop in Shanghai’s Xuhui neighborhood to test the company’s “future store concept.”
On Thursday, the company will launch a new small shop in Vienna. The shop, which will be located close to the huge Westbahnhof railway station in Vienna, will have five floors and a rooftop café. Unlike IKEA’s typical vast sites distant from city centers, there is no parking lot. Larger goods may be purchased for next-day home delivery, while accessories and smaller furnishings can be taken out.
Customers may use their phones to scan things for purchase as they move around both locations. They may also take whatever path through the shops they choose.
“We wanted to start from the ground up and say, how could we envision a shop of the future, a store where the consumer isn’t simply going to purchase a Billy bookcase?” IKEA’s worldwide deputy retail manager, Stefan Vanoverbeke, mentioned one of the chain’s items.
Both shop designs were developed before to the start of the Covid-19 epidemic. The future-store experiment was selected for Shanghai because many of its customers already purchase on their cellphones, while the launch in Vienna is part of IKEA’s drive into city centers. On the Rue de Rivoli in Paris, the company established a shop selling modest accessories and furnishings in June.
The IKEA shop in Vienna’s city center is five storeys tall and has a rooftop café.
Mr. Vanoverbeke said that IKEA is aware that a rising number of consumers prefer to buy their goods online, or are forced to do so since they do not possess a vehicle to carry heavy flat-pack furniture to their city flats. However, it now faces an existential conundrum: “So, why would you go to IKEA?”
As the epidemic drives more consumers into internet shopping and away from malls and city flagship shops, it’s an issue that a lot of businesses are dealing with. The Lego Group and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. have built shops that include augmented reality games and rock-climbing walls in addition to traditional retail.
Before the epidemic, IKEA was a late adopter of e-commerce, and its online purchasing method irritated some consumers during last year’s lockdowns. Its new shop layouts seek to do more than entertain consumers by mixing a more sophisticated e-commerce offering with traditional showrooms, as well as places that encourage buyers to stay and think more about home furnishings than they previously did.
Mr. Vanoverbeke said, “I’m sure that if we do our job well, we’ll make home furnishing more essential for individuals.”
Even if they just walked in to buy that one Billy bookshelf, IKEA’s conventional one-way showroom layout was intended to have consumers examine virtually every item that its shops sell. Customers can now pick up or order what they came for, explore if they wish, and leave without having to maneuver through other goods or room sets in the new shops.
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Mr. Vanoverbeke believes that attractive places like Shanghai’s Maker’s Hub and Vienna’s rooftop restaurant will serve as non-transactional alternatives to retain consumers in-store.
Mr. Vanoverbeke said that the advent of the new forms does not mean the end of out-of-town showrooms and their well-marked shopping routes. IKEA will analyze sales data and solicit input from consumers both online and in person at the new shops to evaluate which parts of the new designs are successful, which are not, and which need further development.
Mr. Vanoverbeke said, “Based on that, we will determine which components we believe are ready to be rolled out in additional stores.” He said that IKEA is more likely to incorporate aspects from the new forms into current floor plans rather than rebuild shops to look like Shanghai.
Mr. Vanoverbeke said that any modifications to stores in other areas, including the United States, would be implemented over the following several years.
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Katie Deighton can be reached at [email protected]
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