The piles of Ikea’s meatballs, cinnamon rolls, and herring that hungry shoppers grab in Ikeas around the globe really add up—so much so that Ikea claims to be the world’s sixth largest food chain. After the Spanish publication El Confidencial reported that Ikea is thinking about expanding its food footprint even further into home deliveries, the company confirmed to Co.Design that it is current testing the service in Paris.
The trial includes delivery of its Swedish foods—which include salads, salmon, beets, and cabbage—and which are distributed out of its two-story, 58,000-square-foot urban store located centrally in the city. If the pilot is successful, Ikea may bring the idea to Spain and other European markets in the future.
There’s a lot that isn’t quite clear in El Confidencial‘s report, and questions remain about the service: Is Ikea delivering hot, ready-to-eat meals, or only chilled and frozen items? Will Ikea deliver meatballs, or are those off the menu, as they have been for Ikea’s early urban store experiments? (When we asked Ikea for clarification, a spokesperson said, “We do not have any further details to share at this point, as we are very early in the process.”)
But the motivation behind this project isn’t difficult to deconstruct. Ikea has been building more small stores in urban locales. It’s investing in a better app and website. And it continues to hone its food program, eyeing how its meat-based menu can be more sustainable into the future. (Oh, and if you’re curious why Ikea puts so much effort into food—just ask Costco. The allure of an anachronistically cheap bite creates a powerful halo effect when you’ve just spent hundreds to thousands of dollars on items for your home.)
Amid all of this change at Ikea, online food delivery is poised to become a $161 billion market by 2023, with companies like Grubhub, Doordash, Postmates, and Uber all racing to take a slice. No doubt, some number cruncher inside Ikea saw this network of small urban stores filled with cafes in one column, and all of the potential revenue from delivery in the other. And perhaps delivery is not a bad idea, even if it doesn’t create massive profits for Ikea. The more Ikea can stay at the center of your mind at all times—whether you’re hungry for furnishings or just lunch—the less likely you are to buy that next chair at Target.