Most sensible people hate the Ikea experience. Unfortunately, their website won’t spare you a trip to one of their stores.

It never fails to amaze me that Ikea don’t have a fully fledged e-commerce site. They have a weird mix between e-commerce and brochure/reference guide where you can buy a small selection of products and pay an incredibly high delivery fee (some common ground with the store there then) but not much more.

I honestly want to like Ikea, I like most of the products, the design and the concept but by god I will only step foot in a store if hell has frozen over and I need a Sätanthäw heater to warm me up. It’s a horrific experience and one I (and many others) would happily do without. If however, there was another way of buying products I’m sure they could tap into a whole new market of digital savvy consumers. It’s 2011 after all.

Your current online experience at Ikea.com

The current reality of the Ikea website
The current reality of the site is there are hardly any products

The experience Ikea want you to have

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that a big part of the Ikea model is to get you into the store, make you follow the conveyor belt style layout and arrows through the soft furnishings department, into kitchen wares then the bedding section followed by a disappointing trip through lighting where half of them don’t switch on.

*Stop for meatballs and weird but irresistable gravy lunch*

Carry on through the bathroom section, onto picture frames and cliche prints then finally onto the impulse section where you pick up several things you know you neither need or even like and then queue up for 25 minutes to pay.

This experience currently isn’t available online in any meaningful way and they’re missing a trick.

How to fix the Ikea experience online

I propose a simple two step upgrade to their website as follows:

1. Just sell all your products online and deliver them – we’ll call this “e-commerce”.

Every other company in the world seems able to manage it and not charge the earth. Perhaps it’s not that difficult after all, not to mention the massive logistical resource and buying power you must have available to get things delivered.

Ikea fixed
Here’s the simple fix

2. Recreate the Ikea experience online.

Yes, yes .. it’s not a *perfect* user experience in the purest sense of the term but lets face it who really, honestly looks forward to a trip to Ikea anyway? It’s such a functional shopping trip because you only really need a replacement Poopli dishwasher cutlery tray but you have to spend most of your saturday getting it from a store because it’s one of the 24,963 products that you can’t buy online.

Add to that the fact that despite the thing you need only costing £3.50, you’ve fallen for their cunning system and when the checkout finally stops racking up, you are asked for £72.35 for the other impulse items you’ve bought on the way around.

This can all be recreated easily online.

Recreate the Ikea experience on checkout
We can even recreate the Ikea experience on checkout by adding stuff you never wanted!

At this point UX’ers will no doubt complain that I’m adding products into a users basket that they haven’t asked for. I’d argue that this is a perfect match of the in-store experience and therefore even more appropriate than not adding them.

Ikea get the revenue they’d miss from people literally chucking all these things into a basket in store and the online customer – so grateful they didn’t have to go into a store – will happily pay for these extra things anyway.

The only thing I couldn’t get round to recreating online was the lovely meatball and weird gravy lunch.

Ikea are onto a winner. They lose many people who simply won’t bother going to the store because it’s such an unpleasant experience and I’m confident if asked, many people like me would still buy from them even at a premium if it spared the trip to hell on a saturday.

James Young

Written by James Young

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