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Why Ikea is taking the app-route to fast-track its India growth story

Ikea's launch plan: its first-ever shopping app in India

Ikea has launched its first ever shopping app in India. The Drum checks out its plans in the world’s second-most populous country, finding out how its strategy offers access to the brand via a combination of flagship stores, smaller city-center shops and, now, online platforms.

Ikea’s India strategy

Ikea is a relatively young brand in India having launched its first retail store as recent as 2018 in Hyderabad, followed by the launch of online stores in Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Pune in 2019 and the second retail store in Mumbai in 2020, amid the lockdown. In the ensuing months, the home furnishing brand has made changes in its go-to-market strategy making it a combination of physical and digital.

Says Kavitha Rao, the country commercial manager for Ikea India, in an exclusive chat with The Drum: “One of the key learnings from the pandemic is that it is no longer online versus offline, but omnichannel is the way forward.” The recent Ikea shopping app launch is an integral part of this process to reach a large number of people of India, she adds.

Taking the app route in the post-pandemic world

Like many mobile-aggressive markets, Indian consumers also love mobile apps and find them a convenient way to engage and transact online. Users are increasingly taking to mobile website, app and e-commerce to fulfill their needs and even more so as they remain increasingly at home. Rao expects that the app will attract a new customer base and reach many more people in a mobile-centric market like India. The app is also the brand’s bid to increase its reach in a spread-out market like India and provide a safe shopping experience amidst lockdowns and multiple waves of the pandemic.

Currently, customers in seven key markets (Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Surat and Baroda) can order from the app. Plans are to continue to build stronger digital capabilities, expand into more cities and reach 100 million people, says Rao.

Launch campaign

‘Home’ is the new and buzzing market

In the past year, the home has become the epicenter of people’s lives and the needs at home have been amplified like never before. Most research has pointed out that consumers are increasingly investing in their home and creating multifunctional spaces with a much better understanding around having the right furniture and accessories at home, shares Rao. This in turn has also meant evolving demand patterns and scenarios to be kept in mind for the category players.

Home furnishing is no longer a ‘nice to have’ element but much more essential to living a better everyday life, and people are ready to spend on it. At the start of the pandemic, there was a rise in work from home furniture as people started working from their homes. Of late, adds Rao, people are taking a greater interest in home decor as well as around gardening and the purchasing of houseplants, like succulents, since they are easier to look after.

Ikea’s global meets local strategy

Global brands do well when they adapt their global offerings across markets keeping the consumer needs and demands in different markets. Rao shares some of the innovations that Ikea has brought into the local market for the Indian consumer.

  • Online personal shopper services to support customers that are not digital natives.
  • Remote planning services for customers wanting to plan wardrobes or kitchens or living rooms.
  • Click and collect contactless shopping to ensure affordable last-mile deliveries.

Learnings that are coming in handy in building the brand’s road map in India

The world has seen a lot of disruption over the decades, but hardly at the scale of what we have gone through in the past year, shares Rao who was part of Ikea’s launch team in India. As the home becomes the center stage of living for people, it has, in turn, directed people to focus more on improving their home and investing time into caring for it.

There will be an uptick in people going digital, owing to convenience. It is up to the brands to be receptive and in constant contact with the customers to regroup, think and innovate to anticipate future demand and build on the offerings accordingly.

To date, globally the Ikea app has been downloaded 26m times. The brand is hoping to have the same prolific run in India too, backed by its global launches and local formats.

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