What IKEA can teach us about being customer obsessed

Why is IKEA the only shop you don't have to drag me around kicking and streaming? Well, it might have something to do with the meatballs...

What IKEA can teach us about being customer obsessed

Last weekend I moved apartment. As well as the excitement of moving into a new place, a lot of stress came with it. The biggest issue was that the flat was empty. There was nothing to sit on, eat off or put things on.

This led to the only sensible action. A trip to IKEA.

I’m not against a shopping outing, but a trip of this scale did scare me as we had to fit out the entire flat, not to mention the moments of tension that would undoubtedly arise due to my girlfriend’s differing tastes (although somehow she’s always right).

That said, we couldn’t eat our dinner off the floor, so we had to go.

The big shop

Upon arrival at IKEA, we were greeted with an abundance of easy-to-access, free and shaded parking. A good start. Together, we went upstairs and braced ourselves for the two hour shopping marathon that was about to commence.

As we approached the entrance, we noticed an IKEA cafe. We checked the time and realised it was creeping into the late afternoon. Thinking about how long we would be browsing furniture, we grabbed a quick pre-shop bite. AED 20 later, we had freshly made pastries, coffee and doughnuts in our bellies. Fantastic.

Time to start shopping. But no? The first part of an Ikea trip is a journey through the showrooms, perfectly presented to give you inspiration for your own home. No need to carry anything. No need to lug a trolley around. Just browse and note down any codes of products you like. They even provide free measuring tapes and pencils. Handy to carry around and occasionally flick to make it look like you know what you’re doing.

After we had gone through the first series of showrooms, we were greeted by a kind man with ‘Hej’ on the back of his bright shirt (Swedish for ‘hello’). This is not a joke. He genuinely had a chocolate fountain at a little station and was handing out free samples of marshmallows dipped in chocolate. Yum.

For the next hour, we walked through and noted down any product codes of pieces we wanted for the new flat. Now, I’m going to be honest with you here. An hour is typically my limit for activities like this. I’m more of an in-and-out kinda guy when it comes to shopping. My other half's inefficiency when trying to find items in a supermarket drives me absolutely bonkers. So, to have arrows on the floor so we literally cannot deviate from the set route is a welcomed sight. The displayed maps act as a sort of progress bar like you would see in a video game.

The mighty meatballs

But still, it’s an hour of shopping. I’m tired and want to go home. The thought did not lift my mood that we still hadn’t put a single item into a shopping trolley, and we were likely not even halfway through the shopping experience. Upon completing the showroom section of IKEA, we were greeted by the sight of the famous IKEA Restaurant. I could not be more thankful to sit and scoff a plate of meatballs. I needed the energy for the next section.

As we entered IKEA's ‘shopping’ section, I was brimming with energy, tossing items into the trolley like a madman who had just won the lottery.

The perfect shopping experience

That’s when it occurred to me that IKEA had completely played me.

I don’t know what the perfect customer experience looks like in a brick-and-mortar shop, but I think it looks something like the one I’ve just described. There’s a reason why it’s turned into a global furniture powerhouse. Looking closely, you can see the tips and tricks IKEA uses at every turn to keep you engaged and ready to spend money.

When it comes to eCommerce, we need to display that level of scrutiny for every step of the customer experience by guiding a customer as carefully as Ikea taught me. From the customer searching for an item they need to them receiving your product, it’s your job to make everything as smooth as possible.

If you look at all the subtle ways IKEA improve your shopping experience, they can be applied to an eCommerce journey.

Take inspiration from IKEA and be customer obsessed.