Will Planning Studios elevate IKEA’s urban shopper journey?

Discussion
Opening the IKEA Planning Studio, Upper East Side, NYC in April, 2019 – Photo: IKEA
Nov 02, 2021

IKEA will open two mini-Planning Studios in the Los Angeles area with a focus on “providing inspiration and smart home solutions for city living.”

The first, measuring 8,000 square feet, will open Spring 2022 at the Long Beach Towne Center, with a second location yet to be determined. Globally, IKEA recently announced plans to develop 30 such touchpoints in city centers over the next three years to be more accessible and convenient for customers in urban markets.

IKEA has been in the L.A. market since the opening of its 456,000-square-foot IKEA Burbank store, with locations following in Carson, Costa Mesa and Covina. The company typically builds its warehouse-like self-service stores on the outskirts of cities to save money.

At the Planning Studios, customers can book appointments and get support from design specialists with planning and ordering home furnishing solutions “that require a bit more help,” such as kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms. Customers can order products to be sent to their home or arrange “another convenient point of delivery,” such as a nearby store.

Will Planning Studios elevate IKEA’s urban shopper journey?
Rendering of IKEA Planning Studio, Upper East Side, NYC – Source: IKEA

The Planning Studios were based on research on how consumers shop the furniture category including the logistical barriers they face.

“Understanding that many L.A.-area residents are often frustrated by being stuck in traffic, we identified geographic areas in the market that are beyond a 30-minute drive from existing stores and where affinity to IKEA is extremely high,” said Janet McGowan, area vice president, IKEA U.S., in a statement.

Javier Quiñones, CEO and chief sustainability officer, IKEA U.S., said the retailer is transforming to “be where people are — whenever and however they want to meet IKEA.”

The first Planning Studio in the U.S. opened in April in Manhattan with a focus on solutions for small spaces.

Other ways IKEA is planning to reach more urban consumers is with smaller, more centrally-located stores, such as a 115,000-square-foot store that opened earlier this year in Rego Park, Queens. To support e-commerce growth in the New York City region, IKEA recently opened a 975,000-square-foot fulfillment center in Staten Island and has introduced lower priced shipping and delivery, Click & Collect and TaskRabbit assembly services.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is it more important now to be more accessible and convenient to urban shoppers versus when IKEA first entered those markets? Will IKEA’s Planning Studios prove to be worthwhile?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"The concept is sound and they can play where most of their competitors don't - in the low- to mid-tier price segment."
"We all know that there’s no “get in and get out” at IKEA, and the categories this concept home in on are the ones that customers need the most hand holding with..."
"This concept will continue to set IKEA apart from the masses, making it the store of choice for affordable products."

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18 Comments on "Will Planning Studios elevate IKEA’s urban shopper journey?"


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Christine Russo
BrainTrust

I believe the trend has been movement out of cities so this seems counterintuitive to the trend. However urban living is a mostly overlooked category by IKEA so this is definitely an accretive move.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I love the new Planning Studio concept from IKEA, as it follows the credo of going where your customers gather, and I suspect they will be popular. But here’s another thought: Many of IKEA’s target customers also gather at Airbnb locations. I often wonder why IKEA doesn’t design and furnish Airbnb spaces fully outfitted with IKEA gear as a source of inspiration and to give people a chance to live the IKEA lifestyle while on vacation. It seems to me that these IKEA spaces could potentially reach many more people in many more locations.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

IKEA let Restoration Hardware, with their RH Gallery concept, pave the way for what urban customers want. These innovative RH locations sported designers in a showroom atmosphere that really resonated with shoppers of all demographics and are located in urban locations. The big box approach is too costly to negotiate and build. And if IKEA has saturated its outskirts location markets in the U.S., then it definitely makes sense to use all its big data to identify new opportunities. It sounds like they are analyzing demand by the zip code and going from there. Smart approach. One question remains: With only a fraction of the floor space available, how will IKEA build its human maze to keep people in?

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Speaking of big boxes too costly to build … it would be interesting to see IKEA replace a department store in one of the many boxes being vacated. In a mall, of course, that if properly re-rationalized, has a predictable renewed life.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

It is more important than ever to be as close to the customer as possible, making it more convenient for them to have access to a typical suburban store like IKEA. The IKEA studio is not only a great concept, but it’s competitive in its offering and sets the retailer apart from marketplaces like Amazon and Wayfair.

The pandemic changed us. We are spending more time in and around the house, working from home, investing more money in converting our homes to be our hangout with friends and family. IKEA is price conscious and modern; more importantly, it’s accessible to all demographics and household incomes.

This concept will continue to set IKEA apart from the masses, making it the store of choice for affordable products. A design and planning studio is the icing on the cake.

DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

It’s imperative that retailers enmesh themselves into local communities, rather than sitting on the periphery and expecting shoppers to visit. Online shopping only requires a few steps to your mobile phone and home delivery means just a few more steps to the front door. This means the distance that shoppers consider too far to travel is shrinking. As more of us settle in to working from home permanently there is a stronger focus on improving the communities in which we live, with healthy retail as a major driver. Retailers who don’t find some way to connect to communities are going to struggle for customer loyalty and market share.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

IKEA’s traditional approach was to build huge stores that many people travel to and buy loads of products. That model is still relevant, to some extent, but it results in IKEA missing out on local spend from people who do not want to travel far. That is more of an issue in the U.S. with its sprawling cities and huge expanses of land. And it has become a bigger problem generally as people have increasingly turned to online. The planning studios help to remedy this by connecting the brand with more customers and showcasing IKEA’s furnishings expertise. That said, studios should also sell more homewares products – things like dinnerware and soft furnishings – as this drives footfall and these are also things people won’t travel too far for.

David Weinand
BrainTrust

The concept is sound and they can play where most of their competitors don’t – in the low- to mid-tier price segment. Most appointment setting services fall to the high-end segment. However process wise – they need some serious fixes. I’ve gone through several full builds with associates at the main IKEA store only to reach the end and have them tell me half of the items I need for the build are out of stock. Nothing more frustrating than that. This concept needs to have inventory visibility upfront.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

IKEA has found another way to appeal to its customers. It helps them plan their space, thereby selling its merchandise into that space. Sometimes the customers need help. This service is personalized selling. Customers love the attention and the personalized experience.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

Being more accessible and convenient is always important to customers and a smart strategy for retailers. Providing quality service that truly focuses on the customers is difficult to execute in a noisy and hectic big box environment. The new IKEA Planning Studios are a great strategy to provide customers more personalized services in a comfortable environment, which should lead to increased customer satisfaction and larger transaction sizes.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

IKEA is spot on with this move. They are opening the equivalent of apparel fitting rooms for home furnishings shoppers. Home projects can be a lot more complicated than assembling simple outfits. These Planning Studios will absolutely elevate the comfort level of planning exciting, complicated home projects.

Kevin Graff
BrainTrust

Remember way back when (you know, two years ago), when customers would put up with a lot of friction, like driving through traffic for an hour to get to an IKEA store? Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

This is all to say that this move by IKEA not only makes sense, but is long overdue. The brand experience needs to be touched, seen and interacted with to come alive.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust

We all know that there’s no “get in and get out” at IKEA, and the categories this concept home in on are the ones that customers need the most hand holding with — and have the highest ticket value. They are clearly homing in on a big friction point here, and I’m sure that they learned a lot from the virtual planning tools that they’ve had out there for a few years. I think this move will steal category share from some of the big home improvement brands. Tandem this with the TaskRabbit assembly support and it’s a great option. I hope it comes to Atlanta soon!

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I believe they already offer the service (or a similar service) in the stores, but this takes it to another level and makes it more personable. It’s a lot easier to see what you need pretty quickly instead of having to walk a 300,000 square foot retail store. Good move for IKEA.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

IKEA is on the right track! The best process designs take a consumer’s end-to-end approach to the situation. IKEA’s inclusion of the consumer’s logistical concerns reimagines the shopper’s journey by removing inherent friction.

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

I cannot understand why IKEA did not do this years ago. Twenty years ago they had an urban showroom in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong and I was always curious as to why it was not replicated elsewhere.

They have however realized that it is a necessity – they recently acquired the former Topshop site in Central London – whether this will be a Planning Studio or not is unclear – they may be experimenting with different options.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

As a city dweller I’m excited about IKEA’s urban concept. Center cities are an underserved market with unique needs where IKEA can provide solutions to a variety of demographics.

Mel Kleiman
BrainTrust

Any time that you can make the customer journey more accessible, you have created a winning proposition. This new concept helps do this in several ways:

  1. Customized appointment to meet with someone to help you make better decisions;
  2. Easier for the customer to get to your location;
  3. Design help.
wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"The concept is sound and they can play where most of their competitors don't - in the low- to mid-tier price segment."
"We all know that there’s no “get in and get out” at IKEA, and the categories this concept home in on are the ones that customers need the most hand holding with..."
"This concept will continue to set IKEA apart from the masses, making it the store of choice for affordable products."

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