Fancy a Coffee …..at IKEA ?!

This is not another coffee rant. Actually it is not really about IKEA, well it sort of is , but not exclusively which will probably mean I may hang onto another reader .

It is more about retailers looking at ways of developing their business when they are in a saturated market. Which is where IKEA believes it is. They have , openly , stated that they do not see much growth in their stores situated in developed economies. 

So what is the coffee connection. Well, those of you who spend their Saturday nights partying down at their local IKEA store, will know they all have cafes . But what many will not know is they have opened a stand alone Cafe, called the ‘Dining Club’ in ‘hip’ Shoreditch in East London. This is mildly interesting but what is of particular relevance is that this cafe will host you a dinner party.

They will provide you with a chef who will then help you create a meal for all your friends (up to 20) within the shop. There will be IKEA’s kitchen products on display, but the only real snag is that it will be food prepared  ‘Swedish’ style. It is an experiment and is only being trialled in September, but  is  a good example of a retailer thinking ‘out of the box ‘in a manner that probably does not tread on the toes of many other retailer. Certainly not furniture retailers.

The coffee, the cooking ,  are specifics and have no particular relevance. How I see it as a business that by being creative has developed an idea that involves their customers, the local community and further down the line an additional stream of revenue. It is not just about just cutting prices. IKEA whilst offering very good value has never just been about prices. It has always been a retailer who offered original solutions to modern day living. What other reason would there be from an operation that gives names to  all their products, which are unpronounceable and immediately forgettable.

I am no apologist for IKEA, they have done the same damage to the furniture trade, as Tesco did to food shops, Card Factory to card shops and Poundland to loads of different types of retailers, but they all have one common feature. They all started , no matter how long ago, as a single independent outlet. A key difference is that IKEA  is creative. Not something the others are really known for. 

Creativity is not exclusive to the big boys. In many ways creativity is often hampered within big organisations. Decision making can be drawn out and cumbersome . There are new kids on the block , showing that creativity has a place and a future in retail. Tiger (a Danish company ), started  with one store in 1995 and now has over 550 world wide. What does it sell? Stuff you didn’t know you wanted, don’t need , but at a price that makes you think ….

“That looks different , I must have one …”

Evertyime you go in, there is different ‘don’t need or want stuff’ but it is presented in a way that says ‘buy me’. Well that appears to be the case, I have resisted but many don’t if you look at Tiger’s balance sheet and the queues at the tills.

No retailer has the right to exist, it has to earn that right and that undoubtedly has become more difficult in the last ten years. But there are success stories out there and there will be more. With the McDonald’s machine,commanding the burger fast foodmarket , you would think there were few burger restaurant opportunities left. Well, the biggest growth in fast food in the U.K., during  the last 5 years,has been ‘gourmet burger’ restaurants.

I don’t know much about the ‘act of being creative’, Julia will attest to that. But I can, sometimes, recognise the results. It applies to all types of retail , from the necessary to the unnecessary. With it won’t guarantee success but will help enormously on the way, without it , the future will be an even greater struggle.

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