Technology to lead Ikea’s furniture shopping experience

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Over the years, IKEA has revolutionised the furniture shopping experience while retaining unmistakable signs of the Swedish heritage. Add to it the use of cutting-edge technology, and the combination is scintillating

BV Mahalakshmi

Over the years, IKEA has revolutionised the furniture shopping experience while retaining unmistakable signs of the Swedish heritage. Add to it the use of cutting-edge technology, and the combination is scintillating. A slice of it was on offer at the IKEA Hej (Hej means ‘hello’ in Swedish), Home in Hyderabad on Wednesday. Poised to launch India’s first IKEA store in Hyderabad next year, the furniture major demonstrated how technology is getting embedded into designing, thereby influencing purchase decisions. A stroll inside the plush wooden décor of IKEA Hej Home is like ambling down an augmented reality (AR) gallery. Simply put, it is the AR app which will let people experience, experiment and share how good design transforms any space – be it home, office, school or studio.

IKEA has embarked on a digital transformation journey leaving behind the conventional store concept. It is one of the first home furnishing brands in the world to bring this technology to the consumer. The Ikea Place app automatically scales products based on room dimensions with 98% accuracy. The AR technology is so precise that one can see the texture of the fabric as well as the chiaroscuro of furnishings. Patrik Antoni, deputy country manager, IKEA India, said: “The development of AR is a game changer and an accessible tool for real-life decision making. In addition to digitally placing IKEA products in a room, the app allows people to capture the setting and share as an image or video with friends. They can then purchase the products directly through the IKEA website. The app makes it easier to make buying decisions…”

“The app will be available in the Apple store and users will need iOS 11 to enjoy this app. This was recently launched in our global stores and we will be introducing it in India too,” Antoni said. “Augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer in our marketing portfolio.”  Recently, the furniture retailer has signed an agreement with San Francisco-based TaskRabbit for connecting consumers to offer on-demand services. Through a platform, consumers are connected with skilled taskers to handle daily needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman work and home improvements. Ulf Smedberg, country marketing manager, said the store in Hyderabad is spread over 4 lakh sq ft with more than 7,000 products. It also houses a 1,000-seater restaurant.

IKEA group is the first single-brand retailer to get the FDI approval. It plans to open several stores in Indian metro cities. The company has plans to open 25 stores by 2025 and has invested over 11,000 crore. It has an approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board to invest up to 110,500 crore.  IKEA plans to bring Hej Home to cities where it plans to open stores. After the Hyderabad store, which is slated to open early 2018, the next one will be in Mumbai in 2019, followed by Bengaluru and the Delhi-NCR. There are currently 403 IKEA stores in 49 countries with sales volume of 38.3 billion euro. The Swedish company has been sourcing from India for more than 30 years for its global stores. In India, it currently has 50 suppliers with 45,000 direct employees and 400,000 people in the extended supply chain.

 

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