Monday, April 14, 2008

The IKEA experience

On Saturday, my partner and I were looking for a shelf system and I thought to look on the Ikea website, thinking I could possibly order it just like any other e-commerce website. I chose the 43" Lack system in black-brown, even though the picture didn't give me too much detail. I had, however, seen this color/grain before. So I placed the order entering my address and confirming the order details, and found out I hadn't entered my payment information. There wasn't a way to do it, and the website had confirmed my order had been placed in the last step.

Does this mean Ikea is going to give me the product for free? No. Of course not. Instead, they sent me an email stating that the order had to be processed manually. Welcome to 1995.

Another email was sent in the next few hours telling me the shipping cost ($20.10) and that delivery would take 2 to 3 weeks! The shipping cost was more than the product itself, and the time span was clearly unacceptable. Being such a large retailer, one would think that Ikea would spend more on their e-commerce site. The reason why e-commerce sites exist is because of their convenience - which Ikea did not have any. Instead, I would regard it to be an online catalog.

With the Ikea website having failed, I was determined they next day to experience their store located in Stoughton, MA. I saved their address into my GPS and we make it a road trip. It's Tim Horton's for breakfast and then we're off!

The drive takes 2 hours and several dollars of tolls. I estimate that this same $20.10 (cost in shipping) would be devoured by our time and petrol. We're exchanging this money for a road trip and to getting out of the house, relegating ourselves to the brick and mortar Ikea experience.

Let me just say - it's big! It's actually larger than the stores in Canada - and not quite as busy. Two levels of parking plus another lot on the other side. With a little bit of rain in the forecast, the covered parking was really convenient. We park in a space where there's a main pedestrian throughway to the entrance.

By the time we reached the doors, I get hungry. There's a restaurant in the upper level where they served cheap food, but good food, and enjoy a bit of scenery through their enormous windows. We ordered a chicken wrap and I had a smoked salmon salad which was branded as a "Swedish delicacy". (It was just layers of smoked salmon and some leafy greens.)

After lunch, we head on to the Ikea maze where it's akin to DisneyWorld - lots of screaming kids and lineups waiting for an exciting experience - but with furniture. While I enjoy the creatively set-up rooms and uniquely styled but affordable furniture, I dreaded having to go through the maze. We took many shortcuts to get to our product that we had to pick out of the warehouse ourselves and check-out ourselves.

So was it really worth it? After the whole ordeal was done, I must admit I enjoyed the drive more than the store. The Ikea experience wasn't what I expected online. I am very disappointed that their concept of e-commerce was less convenient than their competitors (i.e. Target). And then to get the product sooner, I had to go through the entire 1990's ordeal of getting into my car, drive four hours round-trip, wondering if I had enough toll money, and fight with the horrid drivers on the way.

I did, however, enjoy my time with my family. That more than made up for it.


Eva said...

I'm so glad you posted about the craziness that is the Ikea UX. The first time I hit up the Ikea here, I was overwhelmed. I didn't know where to start, I felt forced to go through their maze of displays just to pick up one item, and I'll never forget the crowds of people!

When we moved into our most recent place, we steered clear of Ikea and went to another furniture store down the street. It was quiet. We had a customer service rep with us every step of the way to point us to exactly what we needed. And the best part? As we were filling out the delivery paper work, he offered us WARM chocolate chip cookies! What better way to help you envision this piece of furniture in your home than to smell freshly baked cookies as you're bouncing on the cushions of your future couch. Talk about a deliberately designed user experience. :)

GO4GR8 said...


What furniture company did you go to?

I swear this self-serve culture is going a little bit far. Convenience at times becomes and inconvenience especially when there's too many choices or when help is needed.