Credit: Ingka Group

IKEA Retail: leveraging technology in Coronavirus times

IKEA Retail (Ingka Group) is guided by a vision to create a better life for the many people. Now more than ever, Ingka Group wants to put its values into action to help co-workers and customers adjust to the new realities of life.

With almost a third of the world’s population now at home due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the way of life and work has changed. People are spending more time at home, connecting online with the outside world, looking for motivation, engagement, and online experiences. To this end, Ingka Group is accelerating its efforts to offer digital solutions to be more accessible to the many people.

Ingka Group is rolling out the IKEA app in more markets, including the U.S., Germany, Italy, and Serbia over the next two months, to give customers a smart, simple, and inspiring way to shop. The app was initially launched in July 2019 in France and the Netherlands and is currently live in an additional six countries, including the UK, Ireland, Spain and Canada, Japan, and Sweden. So far, 4.9 million users have downloaded it. 

Customers will now be able to buy products directly through the IKEA app for home delivery and pick up at the store.

“We are accelerating the digital development and are testing and trying new solutions as well as speeding up the roll-out of the IKEA App, to be even more accessible to our customers. Whilst people are spending more time at home, connecting online with the outside world searching for inspiration and shopping, we can see indications of how consumers are adapting to the current situation by an increase across product categories that enable quality time at home such as cooking, baking, and play, is given a bigger focus,” says Jesper Brodin, CEO, Ingka Group.

As well as shopping via the app, the trend of remote planning of the home is also gaining popularity with customers. In Austria, where all IKEA stores were re-opened on May 2, it will continue to offer 20% of in-store planning capacities (kitchen, storage, expert check appointments) for remote planning.  This means that a co-worker will be in a special “remote planning suite” in the store while the customer stays in the comfort of their home and is connected via phone and a perfect kitchen or desired space will be created remotely. IKEA Retail Austria completed 1,000 remote plannings during the seven-week country lockdown.

A contactless Click & Collect service is also a reality in countries such as Austria. Here the handing-over of goods ordered online takes place outside the IKEA store, is 100% contactless, and is on a “drive-in-basis”. The customer arrives with their car at a pre-arranged time, where an IKEA greeter checks the order number and customer’s identity. The greeter then guides the customer to a special parking lot which has their reserved parking spot number. This ensures that no two customers’ cars are parked next to each other. Meanwhile, the goods are loaded onto a previously disinfected shopping cart by an IKEA co-worker inside the store and then placed directly next to the customer’s car in the parking lot. The customer checks and loads the products into their car and drives off.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected how people meet each other, with social distancing becoming a norm more than ever before. IKEA Retail Russia has created virtual meeting places for the community of sports lovers or families with kids who can spend time online together with their friends playing or learning something interesting together. So far, there have been nearly 130 online events attended by over 7000 people. The webinars focus on a variety of topics, ranging from self-motivation and family psychology to physical training styles, to home space organization together with IKEA and many more.

Even as the world is recalibrating work-life balance in the current situation, IKEA Retail Japan tried making it easy for job seekers. It organized the first digital job fair with approximately 120 participants from all over the country. 

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