What Store Owners can Learn from IKEA
Differentiate by Design - Nov 15, 2020, by Sara Glen
In the rapidly changing global marketplace, particularly due to COVID-19, retailers are having to shift and adapt their business models in order to remain in business. For many, this means selling online, for others it is rethinking physical stores to meet the needs and demands of their customer base. So what can we learn from IKEA?
Attract the customer, not their wallet
It’s hard to believe that behind the windowless blue and yellow warehouse, hide the products that millions of people buy. Ikea’s success is largely due to offering other reasons to come to their store besides buying a piece of furniture. Ikea has created an experience. Perhaps you go to Ikea for a sofa and stay for the meatballs. Perhaps you go for design inspiration and leave with a new coffee table. Either way you are in for an experience.
For physical retailers, looking at IKEA’s way of displaying products may be the key to increasing sales. IKEA uses beautifully designed vignettes - displays of full living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms etc. - to showcase their furniture and products. This transforms the shopping experience into an inspirational joyride. Suddenly the customer might not just buy the product they came in looking for, but they might end up taking its complementary companions too. Some customers lack the knowledge or confidence to decorate, or envision a product in their home, so when put in context it makes it simpler to go from just liking the product to understanding how it will fit in their environment.
You might think this model is cost or space prohibitive. However, it doesn't mean you need to upgrade on square feet or open a restaurant, but you might start to think about other ways to attract customers, even if it’s a small incentive. Here are some creative ideas we recommend:
- Start at the door. An entry table with hand sanitizer and a sign wishing them good health makes customers feel welcomed. In these difficult times, customers appreciate all considerations to keep them safe and healthy.
- Remind customers WHY you exist. Whether in your window or on your store wall, display your mission statement to help them understand who you are, and why when they purchase from you they are becoming part of something more meaningful and valuable.
- Grab their furry friend’s attention. Place a dog bowl with water outside your entrance for the pet lovers. The consideration and the moment you create for them to pause in front of your window, may just mean they step inside your store to explore more.
For online retailers or retailers shifting online during this period of COVID-19, get creative with your experiences. Here are some suggested ways to create virtual experiences for your customers:
- Provide helpful information or complementary product recommendations during the online shopping experience. For example, showcase products in a space or on a person. This will help customers understand the scale of an object, how it wears or provide inspiration on how to use the product.
- Create complementary product packages. For example, group a set of throw pillows that can be purchased together. Similar to the Ikea experience in stores, this provides customer inspiration on how to use your products together and helps ease the decision and buying process.
- Offer workshops to accompany your products or host online webinars. This can be a great way to sell your products indirectly. For example, if you sell vases, host an in-person or online floral workshop. Show customers how to create different types of floral arrangements using your products.
- Do virtual walkthroughs. In moments where traffic is slow, do a video of your store, and let customers see it through your eyes. Why you love a particular product, what’s unusual about the design or materials or the designer behind it.
- Create moodboards on your website or Pinterest. Recreate the Ikea experience virtually. Group products and inspiration images to create a room or look to help position yourself as a source of knowledge and not solely a point of purchase.
Regardless of the experience you choose to create for your customers, the ultimate goal is to engage your customers in a way that isn’t solely about pushing products.
Help the customer envision and bring out the interior designer within
For physical retailers, looking at IKEA’s way of displaying products may be the key to increasing sales. IKEA uses beautifully designed vignettes - displays of full living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms etc. - to showcase their furniture and products. This transforms the shopping experience into an aspirational joy-ride. Suddenly the customer might not just buy the product they came in looking for, but they might end up taking all its complementary companions. Some customers lack the knowledge or confidence to decorate, or envision a product at their home, so when put in context it makes it simpler to go from just liking the product, but then knowing how it will fit in their environment.
A Well Stocked Bar
Design is just about style but rather a perspective. It is easy to say a product has been "designed" but without a human vision behind it, it's just an empty slogan. Educate and share the people behind the product, their vision, inspiration, and background with your customers. It is proven that people are more willing to commit to a product when they know the story behind it. Ikea does this by elegantly displaying pictures and biographies of their designers next to the products they have designed. This immediately creates a personal connection for the customer. How can you adapt to this model?
Make a small table or wall signs with the product designer's name and picture to place alongside displays. Add a bit of information about the designer or the idea behind the product if possible.
- Offer a directory of your designers on your website, so customers can dig deeper and learn about who made the product.
- Welcome designers into your store for a meet and greet as a way for customers to connect with them and learn more about their products. Suggest cross-marketing campaigns with designers through social media such as interviews and product promotions.
Regardless of the experience you choose to create for your customers; the ultimate goal is to engage your customers in a way that isn't solely about pushing products.
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Interior Designer and Writer
American born, Milan based Interior Designer Sara Glenn specializes in creating spaces that capture the personality and lifestyle of each client. An international sensibility, with clients throughout the US and Europe, and a keen ability to combine beloved family heirlooms with modern designs, makes Sara's uniquely curated spaces rich in history, texture and style.