Ikea Announces New Online Shopping Push

ikeaIkea Group, the largest furniture chain in the world, announced Tuesday that it will push in the next few years to expand online business to all its markets.

The company’s announcement was accompanied by a report that that this year’s sales have risen almost 6 percent through August.

CEO Peter Agnefjall said in his statement that China is the company’s fastest growing market.

In the last year, the massive retailer has added no countries to the list of 13 that currently offer online shopping. The chain has 315 physical outlets in 27 countries.

Some have criticized Ikea for a reticent online strategy. Though the company’s website has been active since 1997, the basic business model of Ikea requires customers to drive to its outlets—typically located outside of city centers—find their own products and then assemble them at home.

An entire industry has popped up around Ikea, with individuals or companies offering personal shopping and assembly services specifically for Ikea products. The retailer also offers in-house shopping and assembly for additional fees.

Ikea’s shipping policy can also be expensive, meaning that those who shop online and don’t live near an warehouse often end up paying more than they would in a more traditional local furniture store.

Customers who don’t want to spend hours or days assembling their new platform bed or dining room furniture often take to the Internet to air their grievances, creating websites, blogs and even social media groups decrying the homogeneity of Ikea furniture and the company’s perceived lack of customer service. Thus far though, the retailer has handily crowded out competitors in all of its markets.

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