Ikea gets in touch with its softer side
Staff Staff -- Furniture Today, August 11, 2003
The new Ikea store in Paramus, NJ, that opened 12 days ago reflects the company's renewed emphasis on home textiles, both in merchandise and presentation.
"Our biggest in-store change is in home textiles," said Ian Wrling, U.S. deputy manager, North America. "We brought together rugs and home textiles into one very large department."
In addition, said Lisa Davis, commercial manager, carpets and textiles, in North America, "Now are bringing in new home textiles products faster — two launches a year, which is very different from the past when we brought out new textiles just annually for the catalog launch."
"Business is better [for Ikea] in home textiles than across the store, but overall, it is not bad," Davis said.
At 370,000 square feet, Paramus is the company's second largest unit after Chicago. The store "is all about coordination — not just among the home textiles products but also across the store," Davis said.
The Paramus store also eliminates what Wrling described as "our relentless laying out of product by function like all beds, all pillows, all dining room. We were pretty rigid in presentation. And at the same time, we found that customers were also quite uncomfortable about making major changes in their homes."
With this new approach, he added, "we are giving customers breathing spaces — rest areas, play areas and a bigger restaurant. We are adding more inspirational ideas with lots of vignettes and room settings. It does take more space, but we're building bigger stores to make this happen."
The store is laid out by living situations, Davis related. "Sleeping, eating, socializing — and everything with coordinated offers." The store features upgraded platforms for merchandise vignettes with beds set with bedside carpets designed to coordinate, bath items, lighting and the coordinate colors in basic sheets and towels, Davis said.
In an eating vignette, a dining table will be set with table linens, backdrops of window coverings or decorative fabrics and coordinated carpets designed to scale for the dining tables. In living or socializing vignettes or full rooms, rugs are scaled to the size of three cushion sofas, loveseats or sectional, she added.
In individual product presentations "we now can show our entire quilt range in a coordinated way," hanging from ceiling arm racks. "Now you can see the full color palette and coordinates," she noted. Kitchen textiles utilize the same coordinate approach. "We're making it easy to shop and walk away with a complete room or a specific coordinated look," Davis explained.
An integral element in the Paramus store is the omnipresent influence of kids. "We found that more than half of our customers have kids," Wrling said. "And it's a struggle at home to contain kids' things. We're trying to show how to integrate kids furnishings throughout the house."
Now, more than 50 percent of the vignettes and rooms are "family friendly." Kids games are tucked under a sofa, toy animals are decorative pillows on beds and sofas, and newly designed hanging fixtures hold kid or adult product in vignettes for any room in the house.
The theme for 2004, Wrling, added "is living with children."
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