IKEA Rolls Out a Shoppable App

As mobile has become not just the first but even the last stop for many of today’s shoppers, the world’s biggest furniture seller is finally getting onboard with a shoppable app.

You may have come across the comic showing the interviewer saying “Take a seat” to a the man entering. In the place of the chair is a collection of chair parts. That’s because it’s identified as an interview for IKEA, the brand associated with furniture that comes in pieces to be put together by the customer.

Until now that’s rather the way it’s been for the online IKEA shopper, as well. They had to put the pieces together themselves. The problem was not that IKEA didn’t have an app; it’s that it had three separate ones that do not integrate and allow the customer to do everything on a mobile device. .

The catalog app allows you to view hundreds of pages of merchandise on your phone, but not to place an order, which can only be done on the IKEA site. The virtual reality app called “Place” allows you to visualize its products in your home. While the tech, which was introduced in 2017, is both useful and cool, it doesn’t deliver with a buy option.

The IKEA store app does let you view items that you intend to buy but only to make up a shopping list for the items to be picked up in the store. You can also use it to scan the barcodes of the displays you find while navigating around the store, as you can see demonstrated in the video below.

It seemed that IKEA’s goal was to get their customers into their stores to finalize their purchases. But what if a trip to the store is not convenient, and you just want to order that bookcase or chair from your phone, just like you do at Amazon, Target, or a host of other retailers today?

By the end of the year, you should be able to do that in the United States. IKEA has finally fully embraced a mobile strategy. The app will be available in France (its third largest market) and the Netherlands before it rolls out to its other primary markets, including the United States and China later in 2019.

This app will enable customers to no just see how IKEA products will fit in their homes, based on the measurements they enter, but also to select according to their own style and current needs. They then can place the order within the app itself.

The app will also allow customers to see “product recommendations, ratings and reviews, along with easier searching and browsing,” according to a company representative.

While it is ramping up its app capabilities, IKEA is not giving up on bricks-and-mortar. It continues to open up new stores, though these are smaller scale ones. It has recently opened up these “slimmed-down” retail outlets, some of which specialize in a particular way, in London, Paris, Madrid, and Stockholm.

Those who still want to see and touch the products in person can still use their apps to obtain more information about it, including additional options for textures or colors. It adds on the function of offering to show the piece contextualized within a room or with complementary and relevant items.

Because of these new app capabilities, IKEA is considered taking some of those square feet that make up the huge stores to serve as warehouses to prepare online orders.

It makes sense to allow customers to shop the way they want. Most of us have grown used to letting our fingers do the walking (or should we say swiping?) and pick out what we want and get it delivered without having to travel out to a huge warehouse-like space and find it and haul it home.

But it’s equally important not to alienate the customer who still wants the in-store experience. IKEA is on the right track in finally integrating the pieces together, delivering a seamless customer experience rather than just parts that need assembly.

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