Expansion doesn’t always mean the bigger, the better. For our flat pack warehouse giant, IKEA, branching into smaller settings seems to be their way of coping with the intense competition and ever-changing consumer needs.
Well-known for its giant warehouses and its labyrinth of inspirational showroom kitchens, toilets, and living rooms, there’s a place for everyone here—a weekend playground for the new family moving into their first home, a lovers’ dating spot or a therapeutic walk for the solo soul.
Here in Singapore, we can expect something different post-COVID days, come 2021, with IKEA Singapore’s first small-store concept in Southeast Asia at JEM shopping centre. Rejoice, Westies! Now you canhave a slice of IKEA too!
Unlike its predecessors in Alexander Road and Tampines, which span 28,000 and 70,000 sqm, this third new store at JEM is a mere three storeys tall and occupies a total floor space of a humble 6,500 sqm. This might be the first pint-sized store in our region, but it is not the first globally, signifying a new trajectory for the Swedish furniture retailer in Singapore—branching its leaves into the heart of neighbourhoods, where many reside.
Announcement aside, we wanted to see what a mini IKEA store might look like in Singapore by browsing (as we would at the furniture giant) and perusing what other smaller outfits around the world looked like.
What we discovered was that a smaller store is not just an economical brand presence, but is a fitting response to the needs of consumers living within its vicinity.
1. Convenient Locations – The City Centre Model
Though this is a fact that is highly debatable in our Singapore context—the third IKEA store being in JEM, west of Singapore—it is inevitably the most convenient location of the three—located straight out of MRT station, Jurong East.
In bigger cities—like the UK, the US, and Seoul—shoppers often need to travel for hours to get to the nearest IKEA. IKEA recognises that its younger urban shoppers want to visit but do not wish to spend time whizzing to the outskirts of the city. Hence, veering into smaller settings in cities makes them accessible for all city dwellers.
For instance, IKEA opened its new Cheonho Branch in April 2020, which is the first IKEA store within Seoul City limits. Similar to the JEM concept, Cheonho IKEA branch occupies a more modest space of around 506 sqm and five showrooms focus on bedrooms, and offering close to 400 types of products such as lights, curtains, and beds.
Across the globe, UK’s first high street mini IKEA store is expected to launch in Spring 2021. Located in Hammersmith Kings Mall, the city centre store aims to bring IKEA closer to their consumers.
It is a part of IKEA’s strategy to “respond to people’s evolving shopping habits, making IKEA more convenient than ever before”, says Peter Jelkeby, Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA.
2. Embracing eCommerce
With the rapid growth of eCommerce sales, IKEA uses its city centre spaces as its “Planning Studios”. Two such planning studios were opened recently in Tottenham Court Road and Bromley in 2018.
These planning studios were launched as showroom inspirations, meaning the housewares on display are not for sale. Shoppers are brought through an intimate shopping experience with the IKEA staff, who provides inspiration and advice.
In the end or along their journey, customers can then place orders for their desired items from the store, which will be delivered to their homes. Besides a hassle-free shopping process, IKEA UK is also introducing its 24-hour online delivery within London—convenient one-stop service for everyone.
3. Different Strokes for Different Folks
Besides taking customers through a cosy homemaking journey, these planning studios are designed to tease your imagination and recreate the perfect home space.
In Manhattan, this small-format shop provides a plethora of home organisation tools for smaller homes, which are all the rage now. The Swedish retailer is listening to the needs of New York’s Upper East Siders who are in favour of tinier homes by tweaking their showroom layout to give shoppers ample ideas to think out of the box regarding the use of their space.
4. Will we still get our meatballs?
We all love IKEA, but I guess we love their meatballs even more.
So, the burning question is “Do we still get to enjoy our meatballs despite the smaller shop front?”
Unfortunately, the answer varies from store to store.
IKEA’s Hammersmith Kings Mall, for instance, has installed a Swedish food space to complete every shopper’s meatball fix. However, the IKEA at Manhattan store is ditching its restaurants, so mentally prepare yourself Upper East Siders—no meatballs for you.
To our avid Singaporean shoppers, fret not. IKEA at JEM might not have a built-in warehouse or offers only a limited range of products, but it has got our favourite meatballs cravings covered for sure.
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