New Yorkers hungry for Swedish meatballs won’t find them at Ikea’s new Planning Studio, the retailer’s first store in Manhattan. Instead, they’ll find a host of furniture and services designed with small-space dwellers in mind. On April 15, the three-level store at 999 Third Ave. will open to the public.
And as it is for many local residents, space at the shop, which, at 17,350 square feet encompasses only a fraction of the size of a traditional 400,000-square-foot Ikea, is in short supply. To that end, the Swedish brand focused its inventory on space savers like couches that double as beds, and floor-to-ceiling closet systems, rather than the cafeteria-fare the furniture company is also known for. Of course, that could change—the shop is meant to be an ever-changing assortment of services that best serve shoppers. Ikea will be using technology and consumer feedback to measure the success of different areas within the store, says Adam Taylor, customer experience manager.
Before assembling the store, Ikea surveyed its customers to find out what they like best at the brand’s regular stores—many shoppers said they love the showrooms, but hate the do-it-yourself warehouse box-hauling. Therefore, the second floor of the new store is showroom-centric; consumers can tour realistic 400-square-foot or 333-square-foot studio spaces, many of them equipped with smart lighting features.
“We’re starting the city centers to meet customers where they are,” says Hayley Mayer, a spokeswoman for the brand.
Consumers are also encouraged to book one-on-one design consultation appointments with some of the shop’s 23 staffers; in the basement, the shop houses nearly a dozen private planning areas as well as several touch screens for easy browsing and ordering. The Manhattan shop also will dedicate a small section of its square footage to special collection merchandise before such goods are available online or in other stores.
The small-format store, which is expected to roll out to other cities in coming years, is one of many changes Ikea is making in order to remain relevant to modern consumers. The company is enhancing its digital assets with a shopping app and using AI to improve its supply chain, according to reports. Earlier this year, Ikea tapped Work + Co as digital product partner. It’s also diversifying its marketing mix by relying less on catalogs and more on out-of-home advertising and live events.