IKEA is embracing omnichannel shopping with new mobile functionality that allows users of its mobile catalog application to save their favorite items as a shopping list to be used on the Web site or in-store, and also allows for the creation of shopping lists compiled from multiple publications issued by the home-furnishings retailer.
The Sweden-based company unveiled the new app in conjunction with the release of its 2015 catalog , which focused on bathroom and bedroom furnishings and is themed, “Where the Everyday Begins and Ends.” Although the new list functions are relatively easy to use on a smartphone, the richer content seems better suited to the larger screens of tablets.
“I would think lack of screen real estate is probably the biggest challenge,” said Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, Miami.
Ms. Rosenblum was not involved in the development of the IKEA catalog app, but agreed to comment based on her retail expertise.
Users must register with IKEA — a multiscreen process that requires a password and email address — in order to take advantage of the list features. Once registered, shoppers can toggle back and forth between the mobile-optimized version of the catalog on the app and the desktop Web site. The lists cite both the regular price and the price customers would pay if they were members of the IKEA Family loyalty program.
IKEA catalog app users can gain access to extended content by scanning designated pages of the printed catalog. The extended content includes an augmented reality “Place in Your Room” feature that allows users to virtually place and view nearly 300 IKEA products in their own homes. In addition the app allows sharing of videos that feature do-it-yourself tips and stories behind Ikea products. Users can also gain 360-degree views to look around a whole room.
The pages of the catalog, whether viewed through the app or via desktop, include prompts to “discover more” that link to product beauty shots and other content. Among the content is a video that explains the retailer’s efforts to source cotton more sustainably, for example, and another that shows IKEA bathroom products suitable for both kids and adults. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCEx9J3U1lc
The catalog also is closely tied with in-depth research report IKEA issued called the “Life at Home Report,” which looks at the ways people in different cities around the world begin and end their days.
The digital and app versions of the catalog tie into this content by displaying videos of people acting out those morning and bedtime routines, all while enjoying the comforts of Ikea furnishings, of course.
The content is shareable, and IKEA is promoting the posting of the catalog’s offerings via various social media, including Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #IkeaCatalog. Recipients of the catalog appeared for the most part to be enthusiastic in their posts on Twitter and Facebook, including many who have been sharing photos and videos.
The move to add mobile functionality to the shopping experience at IKEA also comes as other retailers have leveraged the technology now available through smartphones and tablets, particularly as it relates to photography. Minneapolis-based Target Corp., for example, is testing an image-recognition mobile app to provide instant access – including purchasing capabilities – to products appearing in print ads, catalogs and on in-store signage (see story).
With the new app version of its catalog, IKEA appears to be targeting users of larger-sized tablets.
“A 360-degree postage stamp is still a postage stamp,” said Ms. Rosenblum. “This is one that I think is better left to larger form factors.”
Mark Hamstra is content director at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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