Ikea stores are a unique shopping experience. For most people, it's more of a shopping event, and it's easy to spend hours roaming through its maze of showrooms. There's also the fact that those stores are usually located far on the outskirts of cities, meaning it's often a trip just to get there.
It seems that Ikea recognizes that challenge, and came up with a creative solution for customers of its newest store in Dubai. Using Google Maps, the company launched a program that allowed shoppers at its Jebel Ali store (which opened in December) to earn credit for the time they spent driving to the store. A spokesperson for the company has confirmed to me that the promotion has since expired, but there's a lesson here worth a closer look.
First, here's how it worked: When a customer traveled to the new Ikea store, they simply showed their Google Maps Timeline to a store employee, and they received credit for that time. Ikea says that credit amounted to the average hourly wage for workers in that area, which is about the equivalent of $28.
The store even displayed the cost of some items in the store in units of time, in addition to the price. It turned out that an hourlong trip to the store was worth enough for a Lack coffee table. A two-hour trip was enough for a free Billy bookshelf.
I think the promotion is brilliant--even if it is just a marketing campaign to promote a new store. Any time you can turn one of your biggest challenges into a win for your customer, that's still a win. And it's also a very creative use of technology.
I've written before about how Google Maps is literally tracking you everywhere, and specifically about the Timeline feature, which shows you a visual record of where you travel and the routes you take. Generally, I like to turn off that location history feature, but if Ikea wants to give me free stuff as a result of my trip, I think I'm willing to make an exception.
The entire thing is also a great lesson for every entrepreneur about how to identify the pain points in your business and turn them into a great experience for your customers. Maybe your customers aren't traveling hours to get to your location, but there's a good chance that there's some area you could get creative about improving that would delight your customers for doing what they already do anyway.
The promotion was created by agency Memac Ogilvy Dubai. While the Ikea spokesperson I spoke with wouldn't say whether Ikea plans to bring this promotion to other locations, I'd settle for having them pay me for the time it takes to put it all together when I get home, too. Your move, Ikea.