The retail market within the UK is ever-changing, and with the prevalence of online options such as Amazon and The Hut Group, the retailers not only on the high street but also on retail and industrial estates have had to adapt to the market pre and post‑recession and also the changing demands and habits of customers.

I have previously commented on the changing market within food retail whereby the retailers have looked to progress with more convenience stores than large out of town supermarkets to adapt to the changing requirements and demands of the customer in an effort to also become more profitable.

The latest retailer to change their approach is Ikea as they announce a trial of a new format store to open in Norwich later this year which will provide customers in Norfolk with an order and collection point. The company has announced that this new format of store forms part of a strategy to make them more accessible, customers will be able to “see touch and feel the product range themselves” as well as being able to collect online orders, enjoy the fair of Swedish meatballs and lingonberries in a café and also select from a limited range available within store.

This new concept will see a store size of 10% of the traditional warehouse that we are used to seeing in their existing 18 outlets across the UK and will operate on retail park alongside the more common names that operate in that arena.

Whilst Ikea has, for a number of years now, run a very successful online order and delivery service, given the nature of the products involved, it is not necessarily as simple or easy to return the product if it isn’t quite what you want from having viewed it in a catalogue or on a web page. 

Whilst that model might work for the click before 11pm and order for next day delivery (with the likes of “Next”), there is a sound logic here by Ikea to also cover the ‘try before you buy’ element of the customer experience.  I can certainly vouch for that having recently visited one of their standard megastores to view the products and get ideas on that occasion, though as my car wasn’t  big enough to carry everything home, I ordered online.

Ikea, therefore, do appear within the UK to be living up to their slogan of “improving everyday life for the majority” with this new concept, and it will be a ‘watch this space’ process to see how the market reacts to the new approach in Norfolk and whether it is wheeled out in other locations.  Rumour has it they are also looking at a high street store; watch out, Argos – they will be stocking hairdryers and lawnmowers soon!