With its virtual reality app and app catalog, Ikea already has a few irons in the fire of the digital age. But the last step is missing: users want to buy their furniture directly in apps. That's exactly what could happen now. And this development could also impact on the branches. The large branches could be converted and new, much smaller ones could appear more frequently in city centers.
A furniture store reinvents itself. According to a Reuters report, the Ikea furniture store could completely change its purchasing concept within the next few years. This is due to the digital change and new demands of the clientele. The large shopping centers, often hidden in the suburban periphery, could be converted into pure warehouses.
Ikea is now finally going to allow ordering from the app, according to the report. Initially, the French and Dutch will enjoy the new shopping experience via an app; later this year, Germany, the USA and China will follow.
Digital interior decorator
The new app follows a kind of interior decorator approach. You enter the dimensions of your room, define a general style and the selection will be tailored to your taste. Ikea's digital director Barbara Martin Coppola explains: "The app's user experience combines in-store shopping with online shopping."
In concrete terms, this means that customers can try out individual Ikea pieces of furniture in smaller shops in city centers. The demo room with matching accessories and other furniture, on the other hand, is then created on your smartphone in the app.
"Customers always start and end their research online, but they should also be able to touch the goods," explains Made.com boss Philippe Chainieux. Ikea's competitor has already secured and prospered substantial market share in several countries with its online-first concept. It, too, has recently launched smaller pop-up shops to make individual exhibits tangible.
Should Ikea actually diffuse into the online business, the previous giant businesses would convert its existing stores into warehouses for shipping. And instead of the large exhibition area we would see several smaller showrooms in many parts of the city centers. The first examples can be found in Paris, Stockholm and Madrid. And since Made.com is currently doing the same thing, the two furniture stores could perhaps meet at eye level earlier than anticipated. It remains to be hoped that this competition will boost the market.