Armchairs, tables and lamps in their natural environment – this is the principle according to which ikea furniture stores are set up. When on 28. When the first ikea furniture store opened in almhult, sweden, on october 1958, it was new and sensational. The modern, clean-lined house next to the field was soon too small for the crowds of furniture buyers from all over sweden.
Ikea success story: from the swedish province to the global corporation
60 years later, the now blue-and-yellow ikea furniture stores can be found in many countries around the world. The first ikea, on the other hand, is now a museum – in the truest sense of the word. Visitors will learn a lot about the milestones in the life of the founder ingvar kamprad, who died in january 2018, and the not always straight path from a pick-up furniture store in the swedish province to a global corporation with more than 150 employees.000 employees and sales in the billions.
The ikea company is actually already 75 years old
"Ikea is doing extremely well, says martin fassnacht, a retail expert at the WHU business school in dusseldorf, with a view to the 75th anniversary of the opening. Anniversary of the company’s founding and the 60th anniversary of its founding. Anniversary of the opening of the first ikea furniture store. But the 21. The swedes face challenges in the 21st century to keep it that way. "You have to meet the digital world", says the economics professor.
Ikea is changing
If you look back at ikea’s history, you’ll notice that even if the image of ikea held by many customers is quite stable – somehow nice, swedish and always with a few too many screws – the company itself is in flux. From furniture store to furniture store with furniture in cardboard boxes, with inbus key, building instructions, restaurant with meatballs and online shop.
"Ikea is adapting to the needs of customers in many areas", says ikea’s german head dennis balslev. From the cash & carry furniture market of the past, the company has long since become a multichannel provider, as he calls it, and intends to expand this further.
Soll heiben: ikea wants to be where the customers are. This is still the case in germany in the 53 mobelhausern. According to the company, between 70 and 80 percent of customers prefer to visit a department store before making a purchase. The next ikea near karlsruhe is scheduled to open in 2020, but no major new buildings are planned for the time being. New ikeas may in future be found increasingly in the centers of major cities. "Smaller flat but still with many square meters."
These new stores and the existing mobelhauser will look different from what we’re used to, believes industry expert fassnacht. Less furniture, direct directions instead of a labyrinth, more space for action, more technology. For example, in the area of virtual reality. Today, ikea furniture can already be virtually displayed in the customer’s own home using a smartphone app. "You also have to do it stationary", he says. For example, making the new kitchen visible to customers in the store with virtual reality glasses.
A lot has to happen in the network, too, says fassnacht. In the past fiscal year, 7.4 percent of sales in germany came from online retailing. "Massive investment is needed." Not only in sales, but also in the user experience. The competition is in some places already easier, simpler and above all faster here.
Online commerce: speeding up orders and deliveries
That’s not how it’s put at ikea, but dennis balslev admits that the group is looking for many ways to be more digital. For customers in germany this should soon become apparent. "We want to speed up our online orders and deliveries", he explains the next step. Customers can already pick up goods ordered online at the furniture store. You can have the goods you ordered online delivered to your home as quickly as possible. Tests are already underway in hamburg and berlin; by spring 2019 at the latest, all stores in germany should be able to do this. Click&deliver is the name of the offer, which is somehow also a step back into ikea’s past as a mail-order catalog company.
Also the contact to the customer is just in a phase of upheaval. The catalog is still important, but is already much darker than in earlier years. Ikea wants to reach young customers in particular more strongly via their favorite channels on the net or apps – so that they don’t buy their own furniture, perhaps for the first time, from the competition. Young employees in the marketing departments are also to ensure that they strike the right note. "The key is that they now understand that they really have to invest", says martin fassnacht. The ikea brand is strong, now it is important not to become uncool.
But not every new development is digital 60 years after the opening of the first mobile home in almhult – or truly new. For example, more services, advice and planning assistance. Here, ikea is responding to greater demand and is experimenting, for example, with a special planning studio in the middle of london’s city center. And the employees are also being trained further and, in addition to pure product knowledge, should also be able to give customers general tips on interior design beyond billy, pax and poang.
A step back to the roots, as you can learn at the museum in almhult: here, at the end of the 1950s, the advisors dressed in gray wool costumes made completely undigital planning sketches of how the new furniture could fit into the apartment. Back then, customers brought the floor plans with them from the catalog on graph paper. In the future, the mabe could come from the smartphone, the new living room might first be created virtually.