IKEA Hammersmith: A look inside its new high street store concept
IKEA is famous for the size and scale of its physical stores, with shoppers all over the world being used to seeing huge, multi-level blue boxes that house mazes of flat-pack furniture, appliances, home furnishings, decorations, plants, Swedish groceries and individualised services.
One thing IKEA is not known for is a presence on our high-streets, so the opening of a small-format store in the London borough of Hammersmith is a major break from tradition for the Swedish retail giant.
The store marks the first time that UK shoppers are able to browse IKEA’s product ranges and services from a city-centre location and sees the brand responding to the changing wants and needs of its customers.
Compared with IKEA’s other stores, the Hammersmith site is a modest 46,000 ft2 set across two floors and focuses on the promotion of home accessories and soft furnishings. These are presented in hyper-local room sets that, being modelled on actual London flats, are designed to provide Londoners with “life at home” inspiration.
A pioneer when it comes to in-store experiences, IKEA’s new store is a lifestyle destination in its own right. The on-site Swedish Deli that serves a range of fan-favourite delicacies opens an hour earlier than the main store to serve breakfast for commuters on their way to work.
Another break from tradition comes with the layout of the store itself. Unlike larger Ikea warehouses, the city-centre store has no pre-planned route that customers are encouraged to follow as they browse. Related departments flow into one another to create an organic, holistic journey through the space that feels much more like a high-end department store.
So, what can we learn about the future of physical retail from this store?
With IKEA planning to continue its expansion onto UK high-streets over the next couple of years, it seems that there is still very much a market for traditional retail formats. Brands must, though, work to offer shoppers a wider range of experiences and services alongside any physical products so that people are enticed into visiting stores.
Following IKEA’s lead, brands must also acknowledge that the future of physical retail will be defined by a fusion of new and old, with digital and analogue worlds being combined into seamless omnichannel experiences.
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