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Digital Transformation of IKEA: Innovation Lab, Smart Home Products and Self-driving Cars

Posted by Anna Mielczarek on 25-Oct-2018 07:30:00

Digital Transformation is everywhere. Every industry and every business will need to, sooner or later, transform itself digitally. And IKEA is no exception. You might think that a major retail brand like IKEA won’t have to worry about it, but the truth is that in order to stay relevant in the industry IKEA must implement some pretty big changes to its operating model.

‘When you look at the changes Swedish furniture giant IKEA is implementing in its operations, it’s clear that they aren’t satisfied with the status quo,’ writes Bernard Marr in his case study of IKEA’s Digital Transformation.

So, what are some of the savvy moves IKEA has been taking to transform itself digitally, and do they mean that Swedish retail giant is slowly becoming a tech company like stated by Marr?

Let’s find out!

 source: IKEA

IKEA's Innovation Lab: Space10

We’ve already talked about Innovation Lab in one of our articles, but to quickly remind you: Innovation Lab is a work space designed to optimise innovation – it’s simple as that.

Space10 was launched in 2015 as a research hub and exhibition space. On the website, we can read that Space10 is a future-living lab on a mission to create better and more sustainable ways of living. Artists, technologists and designer are working together to create innovative products and solutions. These can range from developing autonomous urban farming to upcycling products and materials into other uses, and autonomous vehicle design to 3D printed meatballs! The last one might sound little weird but who knows? As specialist at Space10 are testing out a plethora of ideas, one day we can find it in IKEA catalogue.

Currently, one of the main focus of Space10 are aforementioned autonomous vehicles, which IKEA refers to as Space on Wheels. So, here we have shopping car, coffee car, hotel car, and grocery car, and they all can be viewed through augmented reality on Space10 app (unfortunately for Android users, app is only supported on iOS devices at the moment).

IKEA-secret-innovation-lab_og-img                    source: IKEA


Smart Home Products

IKEA definitely isn’t afraid of its competitors when it comes to the smart home revolution as it offers products to outfit a smart home, including smart kitchen appliances, smart lighting, and smart plugs. IKEA wants to ensure it doesn’t get left behind as homes become more connected. Retail giant plans to be the brand that provides everything you need to outfit your home, now and in the future. And although, as noticed by Marr, some reviews of smart plugs might indicate that they’re not as reliable or sophisticated as their competitors, it is still an important step in entering the smart home market.

ikea-smart-lighting                    source: IKEA


TaskRabbit and Place App

We all know what all IKEA’s products have in common – it’s a DIY assembly. And while most customers hate it, they couldn’t do anything about it till the time when IKEA acquired gig economy start-up TaskRabbit last year. TaskRabbit is a service which allows you to hire someone to carry out jobs that you aren’t able or don’t have time to do yourself – anything from repairs to shifting heavy items, DIY to building furniture.

Huge numbers of consumers were already hiring TaskRabbit workers to help them assemble IKEA furniture, so it comes as no surprise that  IKEA has brought this service under its brand. IKEA promotes this new digital offering with a simple: ‘You can do it yourself – but you don’t have to’ giving its customer a choice they always wanted.

Another great digital offering from IKEA is its augmented reality Place App which saves your time by allowing you ‘try’ out different furniture in your home before you decide what to purchase. This app has been downloaded 2 million times and been widely used. You no longer have to walk through large warehouses and visit the kitchens, bathroom and living rooms to find the products you want to buy. IKEA plans to use digital technologies to reach more customers in a more effective way while also showing them it knows exactly what they need and expect!


Self-driving Cars 

Marr states that IKEA plans to have a zero-emission delivery fleet in select locations by 2020 and in all markets worldwide in 2025. But apart from that, apparently, it will be also possible for customers to require an autonomously driven mobile showroom to come to their location. Just imagine this mobile display coming to your doors with all the furniture you are interested in. This is the future vision of home shopping we can expect from IKEA.

The company is also considering how self-driving cars will change how the interiors and exteriors of vehicles will be designed. Meaning, when cars will be completely autonomous, we will probably want the space to be designed so that it supports activities we will perform there as we no longer will have to be focused on driving. And these can include a mobile office or entertainment on the go.


So, is IKEA becoming a tech company? Not yet. But it definitely knows that technology is the future and it does its best to embrace it. And it seems like right now it’s doing a pretty good job.




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Topics: Digital Transformation, General Tech News, Emerging Technology, retail, Success, Emerging Trends