IKEA: The living warehouse

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Stephani Daniela Rosales Kahlert
  • Kasper Lindbergh Larsen
3. term, Experience Design, Master (Master Programme)
The purpose of this paper is to design an IT experience that benefits the explorational behavior of IKEAs guests, by examining and analyzing how the guests act in IKEA and how they perceive the warehouse experience. The project attempts to contribute to the field of in-store marketing and experiences in retail stores by researching the current in-store experience in IKEAs warehouse and testing new design ideas within the field of digital in-store experiences.

To answer our research question, we use a case study, in collaboration with IKEA Aalborg. We have agreed to develop a design concept for their new campaign, Rituals, that focuses on inspiring through personalizing the process and ambiance for specific products in a given everyday ritual. The concept is based on our theoretical work and idea development through inspiration and interactivity in in-store experiences that motivates visitors to explore and be inspired. Even though we are doing a case study, the project will have a theoretical focus on interactivity through in-store experiences in IKEAs 1. floor exhibitions.

In this paper we apply to a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to better understand the individual and subjective experience of the visitors of IKEA and their needs. As designers we take an expert approach as we study the needs and ideas of the visitors to make the most beneficial concept for both visitors and the IKEA business.

Our design process model, Double diamond, sets the framework for our project. In the discover and define phase we collect academic and analyze empirical data based on a mixed method approach combining qualitative and quantitative methods. The method consists of researching the existing knowledge on the field of in-store experience in a literature review, while our empirical data collection focuses on the visitors' needs by using methods such as interviews and walk-along observation with employees and IKEA visitors, as well as an observational study consisting of 1264 participants.

Our mixed methods approach examines the entire exhibition floor, but the research focuses on “Showrooms” and “Brud”, as they have the greatest potential for in-store experiences. Our data shows that IKEA visitors overlook most of the exhibitions because they don't feel motivated to interact and explore. Additionally, visitors do either not notice or understand the communication media, because they feel overstimulated by traditional communication throughout the warehouse. Even though the visitors show twice as much interest in digital media as analogue, they either don't work or aren’t very stimulatingly pleasing. Visitors want a more enjoyable experience by interacting and exploring the exhibitions, but quickly lose motivation and desire to engage. Additionally, our observations show that visitors usually visit IKEA in small groups, as the social dynamics makes the experience better.

We analyze the collected data by using the Affinity diagram method and come up with the following core needs that are used as design criteria for our final design concept:
• Visitors wanted to interact more, but lack motivation
• IKEA over-communicates and affect the visitors’ experiences as well as the quality of new campaign introductions
• Visitors’ sensory stimuli should be balanced, so they don't get overstimulated
• Typically, visitors visit IKEA in small social groups
• Visitors go to IKEA to get inspired
• Discovery and exploration of the exhibitions are important to both IKEA and the visitors
In the Develop and Deliver phase of the project's framework we use concept development theories such as nudging and multiverse to add excitement to the design. Additionally, we use ideation methods such as brainsketching and brainstorming.
We pitch the concepts to IKEA and select the two concepts that have the best experience potential while still being feasible with IKEA's resources. The concepts focus on using IT alternate reality through QR-code generated videos to make ambiance and inspire visitors to interact with the campaign products.

Afterwards, we create prototype designs for both concepts to evaluate the concept on consumers. As the IKEA operations prevent us from using the warehouse for our prototypes, we design and test our prototypes from home or in secluded spaces in IKEA. We gathered 10 participants divided into five groups based on their relations to test the concept in a social construct. The prototype tests show great interest in the concepts, and we can hereby conclude that they successfully inspire and motivate the participants to interact, explore, and socialize. Our in-store experience design successfully contributes to the IKEA challenges, while it is still unclear whether IKEA will incorporate them.
Publication date18 Apr 2023
Number of pages101
External collaboratorIKEA
Comercial activity leader Marie Lykke Marie.nielsen-kudsk@ingka.ikea.com
Information group
ID: 524185961