IKEA is Taking a Tech-Centered Approach to Their New Pop Up Stores

Retail giant IKEA burst onto the King St West scene in Toronto last week with a new pop-up store that presented shoppers with an alternative to business as usual shopping.

Though the event was slanted for foodies to “#StartFooding” by exploring IKEA’s culinary and kitchen accessories. According to Lauren MacDonald, Country Deputy Marketing Manager of IKEA Canada, “the IKEA Pop-up Experience is part of a 360⁰ campaign which supports the IKEA global theme of ‘It Starts With The Food’, built off the insight that food unites us.” Yet the Hubba team was most impressed by the injection of inventive technology and design that offered an alternative to the typical IKEA retail experience.

As you walk into the space, you’re presented with a wooden spoon embedded with a microchip that acts as a virtual shopping cart to use while you explore the store.

As you walk in and out of IKEA-built kitchens and beautifully-styled spaces, you see curated wall shelves of household and IKEA food products. Merely hovering the wooden spoon over the corresponding blue dot instantly adds that product to your virtual cart that clerks later collect from the back room as you cash you out.

It’s worth taking note of how this leading home furnishing retailer is experimenting with new ways to appeal to customers. 884 million people pass through their 375 stores each year and for IKEA Canada, three times as many visitors go to the ikea.ca website versus in person to a store. Given there were only 50 products on offer, sales didn’t seem to be the primary objective for the event. The focus seemed to be on integrating a virtual shopping experience with a physical format, a trend many brands and retailers see as a major marketing opportunity.

Layering in innovative, tech-centred elements like setting up two Google Cardboard viewers offered shoppers a chance to see the kitchen of their dreams from every angle. You could experience four different IKEA kitchens in virtual reality, with various door fronts, cabinets, appliances, and sinks. Since the King St West neighbourhood is also unanimous with great eats and fine dining, a popup kitchen experience injected the IKEA name into the minds of passerby’s already thinking about food. Being a typically out-of-the-way retailer, it was a bold experiment to show up in the city’s core and meet people where they work and live.