If you’re knee-deep in the train wreck that is furniture assembly and the kids are driving you mad, don’t give up and go binge on frozen yogurt. Instead, get thee to Ikea. At a time when shoppers are flocking online, the Swedish retail giant drew 821 million visitors to its 361 worldwide stores in 2014. The company continues to make the furniture-buying experience enjoyable, and that can begin before the customer heads to a store: By downloading the catalogue app, consumers can select a piece of furniture, point the device at the intended room, and get a 3-D image of the furniture in that space, on their screen. That way they know what will work prior to perusing.
At the retail locations, parents can use their free Ikea Family card to score product discounts, procure an extra half hour of complimentary babysitting at the supervised play center (for 90 minutes total), and, finally, sit down to a buy-one-get-one-free frozen yogurt. Over the past year, thanks to family-friendly offerings like this, IKEA’s family memberships have jumped from 4.3 million to 6.9 million.
For the less handy among us, Ikea’s new Regissör series cuts the degree of assembly difficulty down to screwing in as few as four screws for a coffee table, bookshelf, or cabinet. Ikea isn’t just practical; it’s also hip to standing-desk style, carrying models for $79 and up.
In 2014, Ikea’s U.S. arm invested in another part of the in-store experience—its people. It now uses the MIT Living Wage Calculator, not local requirements, to determine the hourly rate for each particular market. As a result, 33 of the 40 U.S. stores increased their wages on January 1 (five stores already offered pay above the living wage) and 50% of its U.S. retail workforce will see a pay bump in 2015. Happier employees mean happier customers—though a sweet fro-yo deal doesn’t hurt.
- Easier to assemble: The Regissör series (which includes a bookshelf) can be put together without tools, and in minutes.
- Functional forms: A standing version of its Bekant desk adjusts its height using an electric motor.
- In-store surprises: A London artist makes mealtime fun for kids. In the U.S., animal cutouts promote pet adoptions.
Illustration: Colin Hayes
[Photo: courtesy of Ikea]