A new “future store format” is being explored in a location in the Xuhui district of Shanghai by Ingka Holding B.V., which operates the majority of Ikea’s retail stores, The Wall Street Journal reported. While the new formats are just a test, they do signal that Ikea may be rethinking its retail experience in a time of unprecedented disruption.
The new format allows customers to spend time in the space doing things other than shopping. For example, a theater-like space with cushions invites people to sit and gather with friends in front of showrooms. Plus, a restaurant showcases sustainable food practices, including urban farming, and another space, called the Maker’s Hub, enables customers to interact with staff who can repair old (and build new) items.
A second type of store is coming to Vienna next to the Westbahnhof train station, with compactness in mind. The store will have five stories and a rooftop café, and there is no parking lot. Larger items can be ordered for next-day delivery, while customers can purchase small items to take home from the store.
“We wanted to basically start from scratch and say, how could we imagine a store of tomorrow, the store where the customer is not going anymore to just buy a Billy bookcase?” Stefan Vanoverbeke, Ikea’s global deputy retail manager, told the WSJ.
Both concepts include more interactive features for customers, including using phones to scan to make purchases as shoppers walk around. The concepts also upend Ikea’s maze format, which means customers can move through the space however they want. Both store formats were conceived before the COVID-19 pandemic, although shopper behavior trends have accelerated many of the new features, WSJ reported. However, it’s unlikely Ikea’s traditional warehouse stores will go away anytime soon.