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Ikea Planning Studio Signals New Urban Growth Strategy

Ikea’s strategy for its new, urban Planning Studio is based less on its past practices and more on an omnichannel approach the retailer is embracing.

Until recently, Ikea structured its online operations to support the combination store and catalog approach to consumers that has been its traditional focus. Times change, however. Not only is digital shopping much more prevalent, but Ikea has recognized that younger consumers, who have been critical to its success, are more urban oriented today and have a different and sometimes more demanding set of shopping preferences than they once did.

As such, Ikea is becoming more citified and service oriented, even to the extent of acquiring TaskRabbit as an adjunct business consumers can tap for tasks such as furniture assembly.

An Ikea spokesperson told HomeWorld Business that the Planning Studio, “will represent a new way for customers to experience and interact with the Ikea brand. It will give customers the opportunity to discover, select, and order Ikea products for delivery to their home, which is what urban residents want and need.”

The first Ikea in the U.S. designed for a city center, the Planning Studio will operate in mid-town Manhattan, across from the New York neighborhood’s fabled Bloomingdale’s location and, perhaps more importantly, around the block from one of two Home Depots located in the borough. Dramatically smaller than the company’s blue box stores, consumers will still be able to recognize the Ikea brand in the Planning Studio’s visual presentation, the spokesperson said.

Set for a spring 2019 opening, the store will welcome New Yorkers with what Ikea characterizes as smart solutions for urban living and small spaces. The Planning Studio will encourage shoppers to discover, select and order Ikea products for delivery to their homes.

With the new store concept, Ikea wanted to create a fresh customer experience with different physical and digital touchpoints, the spokesperson noted, all as a means of getting closer to its customers.

“Instead of customers thinking about how they will come to Ikea, we want to bring Ikea to them. We know that New York City consumers in particular like to browse stores when shopping for home furniture and furnishing products that may include bigger/bulkier items but prefer to have them delivered. The Planning Studio will give customers the opportunity to discover, select and order Ikea products. It is the latest example of how Ikea is reaching customers in new ways that are more accessible and more personalized,” the spokesperson said.

Ikea has emphasized that, globally, it is adapting and evolving to be more accessible and convenient for customers. The company will develop 30 new city center operations over the next three years including the first-in-the-U.S. New York planning studio. The New York operation will complement big-box Ikea locations in the market, including the company’s Brooklyn, Long Island, Elizabeth, NJ, and Paramus, NJ stores. Ikea added that it will remodel the Brooklyn store and that it recently opened a new customer fulfillment center in Staten Island to deliver products to customers in the metro area.