Our last day was spent at the IKEA Concept Centre in Delft. It is an actual IKEA store with learning and research spliced in. In here, IKEA studies customers’ interactions with their products, floor displays and information. They conduct experiments to better the flow, engage the customer and look into every small detail such as the floor directory to help customers find their way through the store.
For the uninitiated, the first visit to IKEA can be harrowing – the crowd, the maze, the self-service-dunno-how. My first time, I felt sucked into a blackhole with no way out unless I obediently followed the arrows. Now 10,000 trips later, I have the floor plan and shortcuts etched on my palm (till IKEA Malaysia smartly went and renovated their store, just to throw me off!)
The good news is, IKEA works tirelessly to improve the customer’s journey through the store. Denis, the very animated store manager of IKEA Delft, took us on a tour and explained the ins and outs of the journey.
|The redesigned store directory to get you from Point A to Z – inspired by subway maps.|
When you first step onto the retail floor, you will be greeted by 4 to 5 room sets presenting a variety of styles and budgets. The big first impression. In advertising, it would be the headline – the first 3 seconds to catch your attention. At a glance IKEA wants to show that it has some thing right for you.
|Denis, store manager extraordinaire, revealing his playbook.|
The first phase is to inspire you with ideas and stimulate the chemicals in your brain to think “Yeah, I can afford to do this!” or “This reading corner is gorgeous!” Next would be to show you the individual parts that would allow you to re-create it – the sofas, the bookcases, rugs, etc and your range of options – from a more expensive STOCKHOLM down to a PELLO armchair – yes, you can have a reading nook to suit your budget and style.
Denis also proudly pointed out a few hacks they did in store. I was impressed with the use of their PAX wardrobes to hide different sections of a room such as the workstation, washroom, media centre. Close all the doors and the room is serene with just a daybed, coffee table and no clutter.
|Room with many PAX, each housing a different function|
|Wash up in a PAX|
|Workstation in a PAX|
I must say, if you are ever in Delft, don’t miss the Concept Centre. The display here is a cut above other IKEA stores. More creative, progressive, jaw-dropping (well, compared to my local IKEA). I couldn’t help feeling underwhelmed when I visited my local store a few days ago. I know, I know, it is hard to beat the mothership.
|Solutions for attic rooms common in The Netherlands|
After Denis was through, I was amazed at the amount of research that goes into perfecting the customer experience. They have feedback machines for customers to “like” a room set, they gather statistics on how well a product sell when placed at a certain spot … let’s just say nothing is random but a carefully calculated route to inspire and excite you enough to swipe your card.
|Instant feedback machine – only at Delft|
|I also have the chance to view the new Paper shop. Like!|
|The paper range is limited at the moment. Looking forward to more.|
Last on the agenda was the meeting to discuss the issue of IKEAhackers and the trademark dispute. The Chairman & CEO of Inter IKEA Systems B.V, Torbjörn Lööf joined us for the meeting. I was floored, seriously, that Mr. Lööf would make time to meet with a blogger and take a personal interest in the matter. In the meeting the IKEA team explained that the IKEA brand has come under a lot of abuse over the years but realised that they cannot apply the traditional method of handling trademark disputes in the case of IKEAhackers. Which was the reason they took steps to reconsider, invite me over to find another way to solve it.
|We had a good discussion with Torbjörn and team|
Several suggestions were thrown back and forth including having IKEA only advertising, coming under the IKEA brand among others. My view is that IKEAhackers has to remain independent because that is the strength of IKEAhackers. It is powered by fans for fans. I have never and never would want to feel obligated to blog/promote anything for IKEA because I have to. I am open to collaborations but independence is vital for the site and my sanity.
|Fika time! Hot cinnamon buns to sweeten the deal|
And after an hour or so of discussions, the conclusion is this: that IKEAhackers remain an independent fan site with permission to use the IKEA trademark in its domain so long as it does not damage the brand (eg. no porn, no nudity, no drugs). No other restrictions or conditions were applied.
Win! Win! Win! For all parties.
I get to continue to run this site as is. My readers get to continue sharing their hacks and be inspired by hacks from others. And well, IKEA, get to continue selling more furniture to people who want to hack them.
And that was the best news from my 3 days with IKEA. I wanted to do a celebratory somersault there and then. But one must act appropriately in the presence of a CEO.
To Torbjörn, Lena, Henrik, Anders and Jenny, thank you for making this trip possible. It is one of the most illuminating and inspiring trips of my life. I learnt so much and had so much fun. I never thought it possible but I do love IKEA even more.
Hej då and hope to see you again!
After the heavy lifting, we chilled at the Royal Delft and found our animagus. Lastly I want to thank two special persons who went with me and supported me throughout the trip. Kat and Sook Han, thank you. The trip was great, but you two made it awesome!
|Thank you team! Sook Han Wong (left), Katherine Law (centre)
Couldn’t have done it without you gals.
Photos: Katherine Law