Ikea on Tuesday announced it is in the "initial phases of testing" a new Ikea app with shopping capabilities, a company spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email. The spokesperson said the app will first launch in France and the Netherlands with plans to expand to other top markets by the end of the year.
The new app will also include shoppable content, product reviews, easier searching and browsing, and integrated AR functionality, according to company spokespeople.
- Through the use of the AR technology, the app will compliment customers' in-store experience by allowing users to point their phones at a piece of furniture to see different colors or textures of that piece, according to a Reuters report.
Ikea's recent focus on its digital experience may indicate a shift in strategy for the retailer known for its suburban warehouse stores.
The new app appears to be a marriage between two of the furniture retailer's existing apps, Ikea Store and Ikea Place, although a spokesperson noted that, for now, the apps will operate separately. The Place app, which launched in September 2017, gave customers the ability to view items in their homes through augmented reality, but redirected users to the Ikea Store app to complete purchases. The new app, that an Ikea spokesperson said has yet to be named, will provide customers the option to purchase directly from the app.
The app appears to also coincide with customers' in-store visits by giving them the option to view variations of products on the showroom floor that may not be in stock in the particular location they're shopping. This, as a result, may drive more sales online. The app carries the retailer's full-line of products, but items can only be added to a virtual shopping list while customers are in the store, according to the Reuters report.
Technology-driven apps have taken off, especially for retailers offering home goods. In 2017, Lowe's unveiled two augmented reality apps, Measured and Envisioned by The Mine, and Wayfair and Overstock released their own AR apps in March 2018.
The added inspirational content and product recommendations, as well as a shoppable feed, gives the new Ikea app a Pinterest-like feel. For a category where online orders may pose greater headaches for consumers due to their size and difficult returns process, enhanced technology and better product descriptions may provide a solution.
"Our goal is to make IKEA more accessible," a company spokesperson said. "To do that we will offer new and different ways to shop the IKEA product range – online, in remote locations and in city centres. It's about bringing the IKEA experience closer to more of the many people around the world."