Ikea has unveiled a new store format in Shanghai as it adapts to changing consumer demands.

The pilot store is a move away from Ikea’s traditional big-box out-of-town stores, featuring a more “intuitive” shopping journey, digital elements, and community hubs.

“For many years, people have gone to an Ikea store because they wanted to buy something and take it home the same day,” Ikea global deputy retail manager Stefan Vanoverbeke told Retail Week.

“It’s been part of our competitive advantage as one of the few retailers who have all products in stock. Today In an omnichannel environment, it’s clear that, for example, if you want a Billy Bookcase, then you don’t need to go to the store, which means that it’s important to strengthen Ikea’s other key points – not only for buying but to have a fun day out and be inspired.

“We wanted to strengthen the classic Ikea store as a home experience centre of tomorrow.”

Sustainability, health and make and mend

The new store will offer workshops for visitors in one of its three hubs, each with a different theme - food to champion healthy, sustainable cooking; makers to promote circularity and help customers learn how to make, do and mend; and design to help with home interiors and decoration.

Customers are able to book into a workshop via the mobile app - with over half the workshops for the first month already booked up, according to Vanoverbeke.

The hubs are found within the layout of the store, which differs from the traditional store, as customers can divert at any point to go to the cash tills.

Vanoverbeke said: “The store is unlike the traditional store because the customer will meet the range in a different way. Normally you’d have the second floor for inspiration, and then the first floor has the products to purchase and then the self-serve warehouse. 

“We have mixed this up – for example, you have bed and bath universe, storage solutions – there is a much more integrated experience. In between each of these spaces, you have the squares.

“We have certain moments in store which we call a “square”, as you would in a town where you would find the community hubs, a food element, or play facilities. It’s to create a moment of rest, relaxation and interaction after being inspired around the store.

Ordering as you go with a phone

Rather than the self-serve warehouse at the end of the store journey, customers can scan big products on their phones as they go, ordering them to be placed in a locker behind the tills, or for home delivery.

Customers can also scan QR codes on each item to learn more about their sustainability credentials and how to use them in a more sustainable way.

“We know that many customers want to make changes at home but many of them don’t know how to do it,” Vanoverbeke added.

If the pilot is successful, the concept, or certain elements of it, will be rolled out to further stores in 2022.