The new Ikea
Furniture and home furnishings giant, IKEA has opened two new order and collection point stores as the company continues to trial its latest shopping concept in the UK. Birmingham and London joined Norwich and Aberdeen in August as the only UK cities to boast the new stores that are designed to make IKEA more accessible to customers.
Like in other traditional IKEA branches, order and collection points offer customers the chance to engage with IKEA staff to discuss ideas, ask questions and get hands on with products to gain inspiration, but in a different and a more accessible way. They do not carry full product ranges due to size but customers can use facilities to order online for home delivery or pickup.
The Order and Collection Point will act primarily as a planning studio, where customers will be able to speak with home furnishing experts for advice and support when making more complex purchases, such as kitchens or wardrobes. Customers will have the opportunity to touch and test the product range and will be able to collect orders made online or in the store.
The Birmingham store is located within five minutes’ walk of the popular Bullring shopping centre in the heart of the city centre. In total the space is 2800 sqm, with 1200 sqm of this designated as commercial space for the customer. The space was previously occupied by Toys R Us but had been vacant for a number of years. There is also a car park located above. Most significantly, there is access at the rear to be used for customers to collect goods.
Barry Crossan, sales functional expansion manager at IKEA, was involved in the opening of both stores and spoke to Premier Retail about the projects, starting with Birmingham:
“We’ve tried to show the range but in a much smaller format. The feedback has been really positive. I think the customers in Birmingham like the inspiration. I think when you talk to customers they love the room settings, they love coming in to look for different ideas. In the room sets we’ve tried to reflect the needs of the local market.”
The London store is the first of its kind in the capital and is located in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre. Unlike in Birmingham, the Westfield store required a minor amount of construction to bring together three smaller units. What remained the same was the process of making sure the store reflected its local area:
“What we did for Westfield was to rethink about our store concept. We did some customer surveys to see what expectations of a small IKEA in shopping centre would be. We also did home visits in that local area. We really spent a lot of time talking, listening and investigating how the customer lives in that area.”
“The unit is about 900 sq meters divided in two floors, so we really wanted to use the space in a good way. Inside the store customers can find five different room settings displayed in a very unique way, we call it ‘the village’ and it looks like a one storey house. This distribution highlights the height of the ceilings.
“Quite a lot of the space is given over to an area where we can plan the purchases with the customer. There are a couple of things that happen in that area. One is about helping the customer plan complex purchases but there are also samples, so we can really help the customer coordinate. So if you’re buying a red sofa, we can show you the red fabric but we can also show them for example the different cushions from our range. Internally we call it “the playground. We also have an area in which we support the customer with detailed information about our range where we tell the story behind each product.
Barry was also keen to stress the role of the communication and display team and the ordering collection point team in bringing the spaces to life. Looking to the future, feedback on the new concepts will key to further expansion. For the moment, the aim of the stores is clear:
“It’s about making IKEA more accessible. When you look at Westfield it’s in a busy shopping centre, it’s in a commuter hub. We know that a lot of customers who don’t have a car think ‘how do I get to IKEA?’ For customers who still like to experience the full IKEA shopping experience including access to all market hall items and services that we offer in a standard size store can visit IKEA Tottenham which is only 20 minutes away from IKEA Westfield Stratford City Order and Collection Point.”