The Amazonification of the world has forced retailers large and small to change their strategy -- or bleed customers and profits. Ikea, the world's largest furniture retailer, is no exception.

Going to Ikea once meant spending hours meandering around. Amazon got us hooked on convenience. We've come to prefer researching and buying online. This is trickier to do when it comes to furnishing your home. How do you know how that couch will look next to that lamp and across from that coffee table? Seeing furniture in context helps.

Visualize furniture in your space before you buy it.

Ikea's up for the challenge, and it's a major part of their larger strategy to fight back against Amazon.

They just announced an app that lets you visualize pieces in your own space. You input room dimensions and select filters according to your tastes and life stage. Ikea can then recommend items. You can see how different combinations of furniture look. When you find the right thing, buy it right there in the app. All this without ever leaving your couch.

What an in-store experience might look like at home. 

Ikea already had an augmented reality app, which they launched in 2017. It lets you see how 2,000 Ikea pieces look in your home. But you couldn't buy through it. Barbara Martin Coppola, Ikea's chief digital officer, told Reuters it's a completely new experience. "The app is combined with the store experience, with the online experience."

Earlier this year, Martin Coppola used the term "phygital" to describe Ikea's new strategy. They're keen on blending the in-store retail experience with the online experience.

France and the Netherlands will be the first countries to get the app, Reuters reports. Ikea's top eight markets will get it by the end of the year. This includes Germany, the United States, and China.

Ikea's on a mission to "change everything almost."

Of course, the app itself isn't alone going to save Ikea from being crushed by Amazon. Ikea has been making big moves over the past couple of years to change their strategy. Ikea Group's Chief Executive Jesper Brodin gave his leadership team some very clear marching orders earlier this year: "Change everything almost."

This led to the company scaling back on sprawling multi-floor stores in the suburbs and building more small-scale showrooms in cities. It's bulking up their delivery service and in 2017 acquired Taskrabbit so customers could hire someone to assemble their Ikea furniture. They also laid off 7,500 employees as part of restructuring of their business model.

Published on: May 30, 2019
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