Ikea will try out a new layout that could mark the end of the store’s well-trodden route | Ikea
Typical fixed route that customers have traveled Ikea store for decades by independently following arrows through imaginary rooms that, even if hours later eventually lead to a checkout, may soon be history.
The company has announced plans to introduce what it calls a more immersive experience.
According to industry media reports, shoppers can expect to become “part of the furniture”, lounging in the space and becoming the center of attention if they so wish, thanks to the Swedish retailer’s new concept, which it says aims to encourage sustainability.
Customers will be invited to spend time with “influencers” on social media or retreat to the relaxing parts of the store. During several activities, including light therapy, they will be encouraged to “interact, connect, recharge their batteries” and, of course, take selfies. They will also be invited to take part in workshops in the ‘creative rooms’ where they will reportedly be able to make and repair household items.
What Ikea calls ‘the home experience of tomorrow’ will be tested in Shanghai, China. It was previously tested on clients in the Polish city of Szczecin, where it was promoted as an opportunity to learn about sustainable living.
“See how to make your home live with full respect for nature. You will learn about the new role of potted plants. You will find new, efficient ways to recycle your waste. You will regenerate with light and try zero-waste cuisine” – we read in the Szczecin presentation for customers. There were also instructions on how to make micro gardens, to which fertilizer was added for free. Ikea suggested that visitors may feel so inspired by the experience that they will want to contribute to improving the environment outside the store.
Trials in London and Vienna are scheduled to take place later this year. If successful, the model is expected to be rolled out nationwide Europeaccording to retail media publications.
Ikea’s press office declined a request for an interview, citing time constraints. It’s unclear if the new experience will run alongside the traditional arrow path system or replace it entirely.
But the CEO and president of Ikea China, Anna Pawlak-Kuliga, who is also a sustainability specialist, told the German retail magazine Lebensmittel Zeitung (food newspaper): to the community.”
With the introduction of the new concept, she hoped “consumers will continue to be inspired to lead meaningful lives at home as well as outside,” she added.
Retail commentators are calling the move “revolutionary” because Ikea’s guided path concept, along with Scandinavian meatballs and lingonberry jam, has made such a big impact on furniture shopping.
While this will be seen as a response to a pandemic where creating cozy homes has become an obsession for some consumers, it will open up Ikea to renewed accusations of greenwashing over the contradiction between mass production and sustainability. In the past, Ikea has tried to highlight its green credentials by joining a carpooling service, introducing a buy-back and resale service and participating in a retail store dimming campaign.
Last year, it reported that it had carried out audits across Europe over claims – which she denied – that she used illegally harvested wood in her products.