Will Ikea’s new small store format in urban centres help save the high street?
Adrian Moorhouse, managing director of Lane4, says YES.
Ikea’s experiment with smaller city centre stores is a great example of a brand evolving to stay connected to its customers, by accommodating the changing ways in which people both live and shop.
As a lot of young city dwellers don’t own a car and might find it inconvenient to make out-of-town trips, having outlets in more accessible urban locations will not only help Ikea enhance its presence on the high street, but also grow its customer base.
This example shows that the doom and gloom facing other traditional retailers can be avoided by continuously striving to remain relevant and understanding what drives customers. But this can only save the high street if Ikea’s employees are also empowered to help achieve that. Consumers will only be willing to continue shopping at physical stores, whether small city centre ones or larger rural warehouses, if they get a great service. And it will be the Ikea employees, wherever they are, who deliver that.
Sophie Lewis, chief strategy officer at VMLY&R, says NO.
I do love the idea of being able to pop into Ikea, although I can’t quite get my head around it – surely the joy of Ikea is knowing that you’ll be held captive by a shopping route so long and intricate that it will be impossible to avoid the tealights and random cutlery storage solutions but finally being rewarded by a hotdog (or two) or meatballs at the end?
But I digress – even if shoppers do take to the mini-Ikeas, I suspect that these small format stores won’t be the saviour of the high street.
Why? Because the amount of stock a shop will be able to hold is going to be limited, as it won’t have the space to store huge amounts of sizeable furniture, thus defeating the object, which is supposedly to attract city dwellers without cars.
Don’t get me wrong, I might like to browse once or twice, but I can’t see a way for this to become a regular footfall driver. And most importantly, will there be hotdogs?