Is IKEA one of today’s most innovative companies?

Do you know of the interesting solutions that the Swedish furniture giant is creating — using technology?
11 September 2018

IKEA is leveraging technology to improve its business and operations. Source: Shutterstock

Every company today is trying to leverage data to transform its business.

Whether its Starbucks, Coca-Cola, or Marks and Spencers — the scale of their business provides them with real data about customers and allows the creation of exciting insights that can potentially transform the industry.

The same is true for IKEA. They’ve got 423 stores in 52 markets, and EUR38.3 billion (US$44.43 billion) in revenues in 2017.  The company’s website has 2.3 billion hits every year, 936 store visits, and employs more than 194,000 store workers.

According to the American Marketing Association, IKEA not only uses qualitative and quantitative data about customers to create the perfect ‘home-needs shopping’ experience, but also leverages psychographic data to customize the customer experience outside of the store.

But the company is doing more than just using data to improve its sales and growth. It’s using technology in new and innovative ways — positively impacting the customer experience everywhere.

Here’s an example of how IKEA is using technology to reduce food wastage in its restaurants.

Almost all of the company’s stores feature a restaurant, and the company sells food worth hundreds of millions every year. However, at these restaurants, food wastage is a growing concern.

IKEA, being the innovator it is, has a plan to cut food waste in its restaurants half by the year 2020. The Swedish giant has added trash bins with specially-designed digital scales that measure food ‘wasted’.

After disposing of food products, employees use the touch-screen above the bin to document what is in the bin, and learn about the food’s cost and its contribution to IKEA’s carbon footprint.

As staff members use the system, it collects data that can help IKEA’s restaurants modify what and how much it produces in the future.

Last year, when the digital bins were piloted, it helped save 80,000 pounds of food and prompted the company to install the solution in all of its stores globally.

Although not a tech company, IKEA is usually among the first to roll out services using new technologies to its customers. Take virtual reality (VR) for example, using Apple’s ARKit tech, the company launched Ikea Place, that allowed customers to try out more than 2,000 pieces of furniture in a living space of their choice.

Another example is the company’s commitment to using only renewables and recyclables in the future. In India, where IKEA has recently made a debut, the company is using solar-powered vehicles to deliver goods to customers — and plans to run its entire store with solar power.

However, this new commitment will be a game changer for the company.

If it can successfully use big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize its energy consumption — from renewable and recyclable sources — not only will it earn the goodwill of customers concerned about the planet but also create an eco-friendly experience for customers shopping at its stores.