IKEA the home of small spaces
On the back of our ‘From Click to Collect’ Report at the start of the year, we’ve been busy seeking out new concept stores which demonstrate how retailers are continuing to re-evaluate the role of the traditional store.
For big fans of stylish flat-pack furniture, IKEA’s ‘Order and Collect’ store in Norwich is a must. Opened in late October 2015, its small, experimental click and collect format was the first of its kind.
Inside, it’s a more ‘designed’ open showroom space – what could be called a ‘planning studio’. Gone is the full product range you’d expect within an IKEA store, replaced with only a small range of ‘market hall’ bestseller items. But this small product range can be forgiven, with the option for customers to order from over 8500 products from the online range for home delivery or collection.
Whilst it is far removed from the traditional IKEA warehouse space, it some how manages to feel strangely more open and roomy. At the same time, POS, signage and instore props are all very familiar. However, the Swedish ‘brand essence’ was seemingly lost within the small café area. Not just because of the absence of the ubiquitous loganberry juice, Dime Bar cake and IKEA Hot Dogs, but through the presence of café furniture that was badly marked and damaged. With all furniture being IKEA products, as a customer it left a bad taste in the mouth, and could potentially leave other shoppers calling into question product durability and quality.
When I visited this store recently I found the store’s collection point was organised and well placed, near the front of the store. Other elements of the shopping experience proved less than ‘convenient’. The collection area had been designed with only one set of double doors for both the entrance and exit. With customers walking in and out of the store with trolleys and flat pack items, it sadly turned a well-organised entrance into a confusing mess. Another big put off for me was the state of the car park. With very tight bays and narrow access roadways the area is clearly prone to becoming congested, fast.
Whilst some may view such things as ‘gripes’ and trivial: when you consider that collection from store is ‘the point’ and encouraged, for me these add up to major ‘misses’ and could deter customers from repeat visits at peak hours.
I suspect that further generations of this format will go one of two ways: Bigger, to at least double the size (for a bit more of everything), or even smaller, as a true delivery point only. As a ‘transit hub’ the store will no doubt bring joy to many people who do not want to make the trek to the ‘nearest’ stores in Edmonton, London or Nottingham. Yes, it absolutely does what it says on the big blue and yellow tin. Though that is not to say that it could not be done better.