Can IKEA’s store layout still amaze without a maze?
Customers have long associated IKEA with the experience with traversing a labyrinth of furniture and home décor, and often walking out with more than they anticipated because of it. Now IKEA may be ditching the maze in favor of a layout it considers to be even more immersive.
A test IKEA store concept in Shanghai, China will feature spaces for customers to lounge around and relax, hang out with social media influencers, take selfies and even participate in workshops where they can make and repair products, according to The Guardian.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Shanghai location includes cushioned, theater-like space, a restaurant that showcases sustainable food practices and a “Maker’s Hub” where staff help customers repair old and build new items, alongside showrooms and a shop for small items.
The Shanghai store will represent the second test of this store concept, which was also introduced in Poland. Last week, IKEA also opened a compact store in Vienna designed for urban markets comprising five stories and a rooftop café.
The Journal wrote, “Its new store formats aim to do more than entertain by combining a more sophisticated e-commerce offering and typical showrooms with spaces that invite customers to linger and think more about home furnishings than they did previously.”
Stefan Vanoverbeke, IKEA’s global deputy retail manager, told the WSJ, “I’m convinced that if we do our job in a good way, we’ll make home furnishing more important for people.”
IKEA has piloted other store concepts in recent years that have shifted their look and feel away from that of its iconic big box.
In early 2021, the chain opened its first stateside small-format store according to BizJournals. The store, located in Queens, New York City, is half the size of a traditional IKEA store and features a product line meant to appeal specifically to urbanites. Before the launch of the U.S. store, IKEA experimented with a similar concept in London.
IKEA opened a planning studio on New York City’s Upper East Side as well. The store has no stock and can be visited primarily by appointment with limited walk-in visits allowed.
- Ikea to trial new layout that could signal end of well-trodden store route – The Guardian
- IKEA Tests New Store Formats That Free Shoppers From the Maze of Aisles – Wall Street Journal
- Ikea abandons set route in new concept – RetailDetail.eu
- Ikea opens first U.S. small-format store in New York City – BizJournals
- Planning Studio Upper East Side – IKEA
- Can IKEA drive a used furniture movement? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is the “maze” aspect of IKEA an advantage or a disadvantage at this point in the chain’s evolution? Do you think stores with more social components are a good move for IKEA or will moving away from the “arrow path” and maze-like layout damage the brand?