Visiting IKEA is a social exercise.
I followed the established route from the entrance to the exit. After passing the beautiful model room, I saw tourists lying on the bed in various directions, picking up and putting down cups, bowls and storage boxes. When I got hungry after shopping, I went to a Swedish restaurant to eat a plate of meatballs. I accidentally… Come and dominate the WeChat step count ranking.
But time in the city is precious, and this usually only happens on weekends. Taking the subway or driving by car, it takes half a day or a whole day to get home. Therefore, IKEA also wants to be closer to workers and has opened many small stores in urban centers around the world.
The store is smaller, and the way you visit IKEA has changed. As a result, IKEA found that people still prefer the most traditional look.
IKEA voluntarily gave up the “maze”, but consumers need it
There is an important reason why people love to visit IKEA standard shopping malls: the “maze-like” moving line design that allows customers to browse all areas.
From the entrance to the checkout, if customers follow the planned route completely, without taking shortcuts or turning back, they will hardly miss any corner, just like watching an immersive 3D version of the “IKEA Home Guide”.
Because IKEA understands that when people see more of something, they are likely to buy more. Simple and crude, but nothing wrong with it. You might just want to buy a bookcase, but then as you’re shopping you remember the cushions you wanted to buy three weeks ago but forgot about.
However, in IKEA’s Vienna city store, this design was abandoned.
▲The Vienna City Store before renovation.
City stores are different from standard shopping malls located in the suburbs, covering an area of 30,000 to 50,000 square meters. The most direct manifestation is that they are smaller and closer to the city center.
IKEA executives believe that urban stores are more attractive to individual customers such as office workers and sell smaller items. People may want to have free access without having to walk long distances between multiple zones.
The customers who were “freed up” were unhappy and reported to the staff that they needed guidance from the store.
For customers, city stores are not as small as IKEA thinks. Although they are not the 30,000 square meters of a standard shopping mall, they are often 3,000 square meters. It will be easier to understand if you give us a frame of reference – the average area of a Starbucks is about 160 square meters.
▲The renovated Vienna City Store.
Hearing the voice of the masses, the floor plan and logo of the Vienna City Store were redesigned, returning to the circulation idea of a standard shopping mall, but more streamlined. The results were immediate, customers raved and sales increased.
Having tasted the sweetness, IKEA also plans to make similar transformations in stores in cities such as Mumbai and Stockholm. The San Francisco city store, which opened in August this year, has designed a maze-like movement line from the beginning.
This design-related example also seems to verify a default public consciousness: IKEA is for shopping, and if it is not good enough for shopping, there is something wrong.
Is the maze-like moving route really better for shopping?
IKEA’s maze-like single-moving line design is still regarded as a classic of immersive consumption. To be precise, it is not a real maze, but an intestinal layout or a circuitous route. The entrance to the exit is a winding main road, with A few more hidden shortcuts.
Consumer psychology expert Paul Harrison believes that the layout of IKEA is like a museum, guiding us through different types of experiences in chronological order. It also conquers our senses, blocks the sun, and prevents us from thinking about time and space.
The maze-like moving lines should also be matched with situational layouts, such as placing desk lamps on desks, sofas with pillows and carpets. If a product is too monotonous, only in this way can you live a more ideal life and make you more willing to buy.
When we have invested time in it, we may subconsciously feel that we should buy something, which is commonly known as “come and come”.
I have personal experience with this. In August this year, Foshan IKEA Store held the third “Indoor Orienteering” event. With the intention of exercising on the weekend, I signed up as an anonymous ordinary customer and friends.
Although the name of the activity is very grand, it actually requires us to take the floor map and check in in order from the third floor to the first floor. Some check-in points can only be marked by answering questions, and some check-in points can be checked directly, but the locations are relatively hidden. hidden.
We were in the middle of the event and walked through all the areas of this mall like a maze, easily counting 20,000 steps on WeChat. By the time the activity was over, I was feeling hungry.
After receiving the restaurant coupons provided by signing up, it would be unreasonable not to eat Swedish food. Now that you’re here, let’s just go with the flow and browse the model apartments to see what you want to buy… The whole day was clearly arranged, but unknowingly, I was manipulated by the evil consumerism and moved in a maze. I can’t get enough of North and South.
Everyone has their own preferences for radish and green vegetables. Not everyone likes the maze-like moving lines, and Luo Yonghao does not like it.
Lao Luo is right. If you just walk forward, you may not feel that you are in a maze. If you want to leave or turn around midway, it will be relatively troublesome.
Some IKEA stores have taken the initiative to renovate and abandon the maze-like design.
The IKEA standard store in Xuhui, Shanghai opened in 1998 and was IKEA’s first store in mainland China. In 2021, it underwent a four-month renovation and became IKEA’s first “future home experience space” in the world.
▲ Xuhui Shopping Mall when it opened.
The renovated Xuhui Mall is an example of downplaying the labyrinth of circulation. It only uses “experience” to retain customers.
Specifically, the mall has re-planned five product zones based on people’s home activities. Customers can go directly to the target consumption area and travel through different areas through more paths. There is no longer just one way in and out.
▲The renovated Xuhui Shopping Mall.
There are model rooms here that are more targeted at Shanghai girls, families with multiple children, etc., as well as a community experience center covering design, craft repair, and food interaction, where you can spend a few hours doing things other than shopping.
Let customers not leave in a hurry, so there is a more elegant way.
There is no need for a maze of moving lines, IKEA should try to make shopping as easy as possible
However, there is a prerequisite for the maze design to work: you also want to visit IKEA, especially a standard IKEA store in the suburbs.
Even IKEA itself is not sure about this answer.
Although the Vienna City Store has brought back the maze-like circulation, it is actually more important to note that it is essentially a new type of IKEA store. It is an urban experiment launched by IKEA around the world in order to get rid of the predicament of “one trick and eat everywhere” in large stores. .
Starting in 2018, IKEA’s growth rate began to slow down. When consumption patterns change, IKEA’s anxiety is written on its face.
On the one hand, online shopping has become so developed that more and more customers like to buy things online. On the other hand, many young customers do not own cars and cannot transport large furniture to their homes, so they have to place orders online.
As a result, IKEA began to try to transform. Building e-commerce is one option. It is also an option to reduce its size and squeeze into the city center where land is scarce. The latter is the city store.
As the name suggests, city stores are closer to the city center, more convenient and faster to reach. The target group is also different from standard shopping malls, attracting white-collar workers, tourists and people who come to the city center to go shopping with friends, not just traditional family groups.
IKEA predicts that by 2030, 60% of the world’s people will live in cities, double the number now. IKEA will also change to better serve urban people who “live in small spaces”, “have no time” and “have tight wallets”.
However, due to limited area, compared with standard shopping malls, urban stores always have some “missing arms and legs”. The way to learn from each other’s strengths is to make retail formats and shopping methods more flexible.
Displaying products offline and leaving more shopping functions online is a common setting in urban stores.
This makes it more like a beautiful large-scale model room. The store does not need to spread goods over a large area. Instead, it relies on a central warehouse to operate and shares ordering, delivery, and installation services through the middle office.
For example, the Vienna City Store displays almost all IKEA products. Customers can purchase more than 4,000 types of small furniture of up to 10 kilograms on site and take it home by public transportation or bicycle. Large furniture can be ordered and delivered the next day. Come to your door.
At the same time, urban stores also hope to retain customers for a longer period of time.
The Vienna City Store has no parking lot but a rooftop cafe, inviting people to enjoy the view, chat and drink coffee; the Manhattan City Store has designers providing one-on-one free consultation services to help New York residents design better small houses.
▲ Vienna’s city center store.
In July this year, IKEA’s city store in Jing’an, Shanghai announced that it would close at the end of the year, causing an uproar in public opinion. Officials calmly stated that the Jing’an City store was originally an experimental store in the Shanghai market and has completed its current mission.
▲ Jing’an City Store.
This store covers an area of about 3,000 square meters, only one-tenth of a standard shopping mall. It is located in a block with a lot of traffic, next door to Jing’an Temple, and only a 5-minute walk to Jing’an Kerry Center and Rio Department Store.
Its business area has a total of three floors, including an IKEA light food store focusing on gourmet food, a furniture exhibition room, and a whole-house design center for customized consulting services. Because of its strategic location, the restaurant is always crowded on weekdays, and it doesn’t look like it has to close.
But judging from the results, there are many reasons for closing the store, including high rent, the impact of the epidemic, and there are other IKEA stores in Shanghai, not to mention that people prefer to just browse but not buy, and prefer to treat it as a white-collar canteen rather than a furniture department store. The unit price per customer, which is not too high, cannot support the operation of urban stores.
In short, the return on investment of Jing’an City Store is not high and it is not a cost-effective business. Similarly, in December 2022, the city store in Queens, New York, which had been open for less than two years, was closed due to low customer flow.
However, for IKEA, failure is not necessarily a blow. The life and death of urban stores is a common thing. Understanding what local consumers like, hate, and need is an essential experience for a home furnishing giant.
Therefore, if you look at IKEA’s urban stores around the world, although they are all grown in the most prosperous local areas, they have different shapes because they are rooted in the soil and water and the people they serve are different.
The city store in Manhattan does not allow on-site shopping and can only deliver goods to your home. This is because IKEA has observed that e-commerce shopping in Manhattan has grown significantly. Most customers are already accustomed to online consumption, and this store is just an additional entity. Contact point.
The city store in Paris is only about 500 square meters, but it has a restaurant and salad bar. It also provides cooking classes, furniture repair classes, and even concerts and art exhibitions. It is more like a community activity space because this store is aimed at There are people who like IKEA but feel that IKEA is too far away.
Smaller and more flexible urban stores open stores faster, which also allows IKEA to enter more markets and have a more open attitude towards testing new things. Everyone is happy when it succeeds, but when it fails, it just gives up. Even if the Vienna City Store returns to a maze-like design, it is a decision based on local conditions.
Labyrinth-like design, experiential zoning, urban stores that communicate both online and offline and take into account localized experience are all meant to retain consumers, but the methods are different.
However, IKEA’s movement always has an “emotional component” in my heart. It doesn’t give me the urgency to buy furniture, but instead makes me wander around without purpose. IKEA is supposed to let people buy more things to take home, but it actually lengthens my weekend schedule. If I have to say something bad, it just makes my feet hurt from walking.
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