The Ikea shopping experience used to be all about being there in person. You would schlep out to one of the Swedish company’s giant showrooms, where you’d meander through rooms, stop for a meatball or three, and then fill up your cart with giant, heavy-to-lift boxes to take home. Then, the real work–putting everything together–would begin.
No longer. Today Ikea announces the integration of an on-demand assembly service, courtesy of the gig economy company TaskRabbit, which Ikea acquired in September of 2017. Now, customers can either order Ikea furniture online or visit one of six Ikeas in the Bay Area or New York City region to book a “Tasker”–one of TaskRabbit’s independent contractors–to show up and do all the assembly for them. “With the addition of TaskRabbit, we’re able to offer assembly for online purchases, meaning that our customers can experience Ikea anywhere they like,” says Jackie DeChamps, the COO and executive vice president of Ikea U.S. “It’s about offering flexibility.”
Say goodbye to that famous rite of passage: every couple’s fight over what to buy–and then how to assemble it.
Prices start at $36 for a single piece of furniture and go up from there depending on the piece’s size and complexity. It’s pricey, given how inexpensive Ikea furniture tends to be, but sometimes it’s worth parting ways with a little money to make your life easier. At least, that’s Ikea’s bet. Previously, assembly was only available for customers who shopped in Ikea stores and then had furniture delivered. But TaskRabbit can now bring that service to a much broader array of customers. The company plans to bring the service to more urban areas this year.
It’s part of a broader trend in the company’s offerings. As retail shifts away from the big-box store model and toward the Amazon age, Ikea is adapting to meet the needs of people who want to do all of their shopping from the couch. With the company’s new AR app, released in August of 2017, Ikea effectively replaced the need for a trip to its showroom by letting customers play around with digital versions of its furniture in their own homes. This year Ikea also lowered its delivery price–which used to get into the hundreds of dollars–to a much more affordable starting price of $29. With TaskRabbit now under the Ikea umbrella, the next logical step is to ensure that couch shoppers can stay horizontal as someone else does all the hard work of actually assembling the furniture.
Together, these initiatives offer a very different kind of Ikea experience–no navigating the store maze, no lugging your purchases home, and no sweating to put it all together. You do miss out on the meatballs, and you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg more for the luxury, but it is possible. It’s giving customers a similar kind of experience online that they can get in an Ikea store.
Of course, customers could always bring their Ikea furniture home and then separately go on TaskRabbit and hire someone to assemble it. DeChamps says that the more formal integration between the two companies will ensure customers always get a consistent, low price for assembly. TaskRabbit also has an easy-to-use online portal–whereas Ikea’s track record around its delivery service, through which assembly was only available before, is universally considered terrible.
In the age of Amazon Prime and other furniture competitors like Wayfair, where shipping is free over $49, Ikea doesn’t have much choice. The company needs to offer more convenience to stay in the game, even if it’s still going to cost you.