Ikea builds a pop-up showroom on a digital premise

May 27, 2016 08:00 AM

Swedish home furnishings retailer Ikea this month opened a temporary, highly digital, kitchen-focused store. The goal, the retailer says, is to challenge visitors to rethink how they look at food and cooking.

The store, which Ikea Canada is operating for two weeks on a highly trafficked corner in downtown Toronto, features about 50 products. But there are no handbaskets or carts. Instead, when consumers enter the pop-up shop, a staff member hands them a wooden spoon with a RFID chip embedded in it, explains the store concept and provides instructions on how to shop. If a shopper wants to purchase an item on display, she taps the spoon to a sensor on the shelf, and it is added to her order. Products included pitchers, plastic popsicle molds and other food-oriented products. (Yes, bags of Ikea’s frozen Swedish meatballs were available, too.)

At checkout, the shopper taps the spoon to another sensor, which brings her order up on a screen. She confirms she wants the goods, can opt in to receive Ikea emails and swipes a debit or credit card to pay—the store does not accept cash. Products are retrieved from a storeroom and delivered immediately.

The digital elements extended the physical store into the virtual world, too. The pop-up shop had a kitchen display showing off Ikea cabinets, appliances and accessories, but also several virtual reality headsets that used Google Cardboard viewers. Donning one, a consumer could view other kitchen set designs as if she were in them.

On a recent visit store employees—about eight were on hand—encouraged visitors to take photos of the creative displays and tag them on social media with the campaign’s hashtag, #startfooding.

“The Ikea Pop-up Experience is part of a 360-degree campaign which supports the Ikea global theme of ‘It Starts With The Food’, which is built off the insight that food unites us,” says Lauren MacDonald, country deputy marketing manager, Ikea Canada.

The nearest permanent Ikea store is about 30 minutes from downtown Toronto, and the retailer has been expanding its digital and e-commerce initiatives in Canada, including opening five pickup points for orders in areas where it doesn’t have stores nearby. It has 12 stores in Canada. “The pickup and order points are allowing Ikea to expand quickly into markets that have been identified as having potential, resulting in Ikea becoming more accessible to Canadians,” says Stefan Sjöstrand, president of Ikea Canada. Ikea is also testing the pickup points for online orders in other countries. is No. 212 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, with an estimated $134.2 million in web sales in the United States and Canada.




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