Smarter online shopping for the future
People’s lives are changing, and it’s becoming more important to offer choices about how, when and where we shop. This flexibility and accessibility for customers everywhere is the goal of the IKEA e-commerce offer. And it has taken some of its biggest steps yet in 2014 to truly make us a multi-channel retailer of the future.
Delivery and testing on a new, more robust retail web platform has begun in the UK, and two years of hard work will culminate next year with a smart and customer-friendly web shopping experience.
“This is a new look and feel for customers,” says Binnaz Cubukcu, Learning Design Manager for E-Commerce at IKEA Retail Services AB. “It’s very sleek, clean and easy to navigate. It makes browsing, selecting things, creating a shopping list and placing an order much simpler and very quick.”
The new web platform – which is not just a new online shopping platform but an entirely new IKEA web experience – is being rolled out carefully to ensure it functions well. The test market is the UK, an IKEA market that has led the way in developing and improving our e-commerce capabilities for many years.
The new site will be released next year, first in Ireland, and then the full e-commerce site will be launched in the UK as part of a two-year roll-out plan to bring the new platform to other e-commerce markets like the U.S.A. and Germany.
Exciting growth and poised for more
IKEA UK started developing its current e-commerce offer in the early 2000s. It has gradually expanded to 8,200 products today and growth has been impressive, with sales growing at least 25 per cent year-on-year since 2007.
“The platform that’s up now is out of date,” says Eddie Buglass, a customer relations’ specialist working at Inter IKEA Systems Service AB. “It’s grown online sales and enabled lots of growth, but it’s time for a more up-to-date solution.”
Rigorous testing is now underway on the new platform. The project teams have encountered some challenges and opportunities when it comes to connecting the new platform with the existing legacy systems that control things like distribution and delivery. But progress has been steady.
“This was not altogether unexpected,” Eddie says. “But what it has meant is that the timeframes have been adjusted to make sure we roll out a good system.”
Connecting the digital and physical worlds
In the beginning, there were concerns that the new offer could cannibalize store sales. Performance is measured on sales per store and sales were initially credited as if online were its own shop. But when they credited sales to the primary market areas, it changed everything.
“We are bringing the web much closer to the store experience, and creating a more seamless and consistent customer experience,” says Mercedes Vidal Lobato, Web Channel Manager for IKEA Retail Services AB. “We are making the IKEA offer available to customers 24/7. This is important because IKEA stores are typically not in city centres and there are many customers that have a long way to the stores. This will bring IKEA closer to many people.”
Building a better customer experience
Aside from being sharper, fresher and more intuitive, the new retail web platform is offering new features – online and off – to enhance the shopping experience.
The find-and-search function will allow you to search by product or room. Product information will be presented in a more streamlined way, and each page offers more information without having to open new windows. There is also a new tab called ‘Ideas,’ which will inspire customers with home furnishing solutions. And the site has a responsive design that automatically adjusts to suit any device.
Customers can also take control of their delivery dates, and change or cancel online without having to pick up the phone – part of the team’s goal of making the new platform more of a self-service tool for customers.
“This is about flexibility,” Binnaz says. “If I wake up in the morning and I want to buy this and that, I should be able to find the IKEA products I want, and buy them online without worrying about the delivery or going to the store. It should be easy, quick and hassle-free. It’s keeping the IKEA promise.”