Wednesday, September 20, 2006

IKEA continued

Okay, so back to the topic at hand. Lets break down what we have with the IKEA experience:

1. Presentation - First off, unique building! Outside and in.
2. Enormous selection - They have what you want.
3. Easy assembly - Who couldn't put this stuff together?
4. Excellent warehouse concept - Find what you want, then get it from a central location.

Starting off with presentation. You cannot mistake an IKEA. They have the big blue and yellow building that is just off a main roadway. Every time I drive by I smile and say, "Hey, there's IKEA!". Once someone decides to give them a visit, they can expect ample parking (and indeed, tons of other customers). Entering in, you notice that they present their products in a way that is different from other businesses, especially ones of that size. Everything they have you can find set up in various settings show-casing their attributes. That is one of the things that makes them really stand out. At the prices they charge, their competitors are certainly not offering that. So you get to see what you are looking for. You know what else? You see it in a context with quite a few other products that go right along with it. So why not pick up a few other things that go so well with it? Along with those things, the isles are wide, everything is spread out so it doesn't get too congested in one area, etc.

As hinted at before, IKEA has a great selection. If you want a desk, you can see 30 varieties of it. If you want water glasses, you will find 5 to 10 designs, but all that look good and are extremely affordable. Enough said on that, they have a lot of great looking product.

You know, as a man... I have learned to move past my forefathers fear of using/asking for directions. You know why? I tried to put together a book shelf when I was younger without looking through the booklet first. IKEA makes it easy. Almost too easy. The directions are well laid out and easy to understand. That alone is more than most companies do for their customers. On top of that though, the tools they give you make their products easy to assemble and result in a sturdy final product. Somebody should give the person that developed that latch system a pay raise.

Lastly, their warehouse concept is great. The IKEAs near where I lived in Chicago were three floors and at any time there were several hundred people shopping there. Imagine having to effectively coordinate the warehouse to deliver new boxed product to all three of those levels.. Then on top of that to have shoppers running around with huge flats of heavy boxes. Not good. So you don't have to do that. Instead, just write down the number of the item and head down to the bottom floor. Not only can you hold off on picking up furniture until the end of your shopping trip, but it also makes the restocking system that much more efficient.

So we've gone over all that... We know logically why the system sounds good. To top it all off though, IKEA isn't just selling you a product or an easy to navigate store. They are selling you an ideal. That of Sweden. When one thinks of Sweden, what comes to mind? Beauty, cleanliness, Scandinavian design elements, nature, class. When shopping there, who doesn't include that in their experience? This totally differentiates them from their competition. So you know what? Wal-Mart, you make your products ever cheaper. Target, you keep trying to sell yourself as a designer superstore. It isn't going to have any impact what so ever on IKEA. They've managed to differentiate themselves from you.

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