IKEA Shifts Emphasis to AR App, Downtown Stores

Ikea wants people to shop from inside their house using a new app.
Jessica Miley

IKEA is making a major shift in its approach to customers. The Swedish furniture giant is launching an app that will allow customers to visualize their potential purchases inside their own homes so they can make decisions before heading to a store.

The company will also open more stores in city centers. Previously Ike had cultivated a vast network of a large superstore on city fringes. “It is a completely new experience,” Barbara Martin Coppola, chief digital officer at IKEA, told Reuters in an interview. “The app is combined with the store experience, and with the online experience.

App to launch in Europe then go global

The app will launch first in France and the Netherlands, and then, will head to its best-performing countries including Germany, the United States and China by the end of the year. The app prompts users to input their room dimensions, taste, budget and age group before suggesting products that may fit.

IKEA launched a similar app called Place in 2017 but it didn't allow online shopping like the new version does. Online shopping was previously only available through the company's website.

Shop from your home

“We want to contribute to a better everyday life for the many people by introducing a new app which allows people to shop from the comfort of their own home. The app includes a fresh design, inspirational content, improved user experience, an in-store mode and shopping capabilities all at the click of a button. Additional features include product recommendations, ratings & reviews and friendlier browsing capabilities. The app comes as a series of moves that look to strengthen IKEA’s position to become more accessible, affordable and sustainable for customers," an IKEA spokesperson said. 

This shift towards a more home-based shopping experience may be to push back on large and fast-growing online retailers like the British website, Made.com.

Last month, the company launched a new interior design service that uses artificial intelligence to recommend products and 3D technology to show what the furnished room will look like. This service is available for a fee.

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IKEA pushes back on online retail

The IKEA AR app, called Place is free. “IKEA Place lets you place true-to-scale 3D furniture in your home using the lens of your iPhone camera,” explains Michael Valdsgaard, the Leader of Digital Transformation at Inter IKEA Systems B.V. “You see the scene as if these objects were real and you can walk around them and interact with them, even leave the room and come back. It’s really magic to experience.”

IKEA is no doubt experiencing some pressure from the rise of online retailers who offer ‘Scandinavian designed’ furniture for flat delivery fees. IKEA furniture is often associated with a temporary student lifestyle that many working millennials may be trying to put behind them. 

Heading out to an IKEA store, depicting it as a popular place to have a massive conflict with a romantic partner, has made IKEA a pop culture icon. 

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