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Ikea seeks growth online

16 November 2012 - 10:51 by Mike Price

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Many people in the UK spend hours trudging around Ikea at the weekend, looking for the next affordable piece of furniture to add to their homes, but very few will have interacted with this popular company via safe shopping online.

In an effort to combat this, Ikea is seeking to establish itself as a true e-commerce force, in part because so many industry insiders and shareholders have been critical of its lack of dominance in the digital realm.

Part of the problem is that it struggled to find an affordable way to actually offer delivery to consumers in the past, which meant that it believed customers could be put off from actually using its e-commerce outlet.

The UK has been one of Ikea's most successful e-commerce experiments, with sales up by a quarter in 2011, after it decided to expand the range of products on offer.

But in truth, it remains a relatively stunted version of what could in fact be available, which is why the company has chosen to take on the logistical challenges associated with delivery and make a real go of it.

The Financial Times reports that the release of Ikea apps for smartphone devices in recent months has been one way of engaging customers via a digital medium. This gives people access to the Ikea catalogue without requiring it in printed form.

There are a number of roadblocks to real change within Ikea, one of which is the fact that it relies on a traditional top-down management structure, according to some critics.

However, if it is able to embrace safe shopping online just as heartily as its customers in the UK have, then it could be in a very good position to increase its market share and avoid giving competitors the advantage.