By Erik Sherman
November 28, 2018

The prototypical trip to an Ikea store includes a car ride to a massive warehouse at the edge of town, wandering through labyrinthine paths past every type of product they carry, and a stop at the cafeteria for a meal. But that’s changing.

The company has been opening a series of small stores this year. A 5,000 square foot Ikea store, in Warsaw, Poland, for instance, is a quarter of the warehouse size, as the Associated Press reported. Consumers can drop in, use a computer to design a kitchen or bedroom, and place an order at a kiosk for products to be shipped to them.

A London example of the small-footprint variety is 9,700 square feet, Bloomberg reported. No iconic packages of meatballs at this location, but customers can have someone from TaskRabbit, an odd-job gig-economy platform Ikea acquired, to do the assembly.

Not that Ikea has given up on big stores. It plans a 700,000 square foot one in the Philippines to open in 2020. It’s all part of a big shift in the company’s strategy, which has included a cut of 7,500 jobs, largely administrative support staff, and plans to hire 11,500 people for online sales and the additional smaller stores.

What caused the trial of small locations was a drastic change in consumer habits. For example, Ikea saw a 40% drop in U.K. profits last year, Curbed reported.

“You have companies like Amazon and Uber that are raising the bar for what is expected,” Warsaw store manager Andreas Flygare told AP.

By offering showrooms and then arranging for delivery or later pickup, the company reduces the amount of space it needs and provides the type of convenience people have come to expect. Illustrated instructions and Allen wrench not included.

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