I spent the weekend helping my daughter move into her first apartment and get ready for this year at university. We visited IKEA to furnish the place. From the parking lot to the playground inside the store, the entire place was packed.
I've only been to IKEA a few times, but I've always been fascinated about the concept and how IKEA connects with their customers, anywhere in the world. I was in the IKEA in Montreal this weekend; however, I've seen IKEA not only across Canada and the US, but in Europe as well. Why do I see IKEA in all the places I seem to go? Because you can't help but see an IKEA - they are connected to the high traffic areas of their markets. They are always ready for customers (this weekend with back to school you could see students and boxes all around the student areas of Montreal), so it's no wonder IKEA's owners are some of the most wealthy in the world.
How does every IKEA work - and why is it such an "ff-line" great example of The Connected Market Space?
First, each and every IKEA is connected by location. Always off of a busy highway, you can't help but see the place. Â From Montreal to Malaysia, it's always the same connection to traffic. The volume of eyes from the highway racing by knows exactly what IKEA looks like and where they are located.

 

Inside, they're always bustling. Â Directly in front of me were stairs up to the showroom. We found the beds and bathrooms and all manners of home furnishings in between. Cool, cheap, and organized so we could easily grab our slip and jot down what we needed. The "shopping" experience was good (I'm not a shopper by nature) because IKEA tracked us right where we needed to go and we set about discovering whatever was on our minds, "bookmarking" it along the way (rack and bin number noted).
Down the stairs, into the back end warehouse - we became our own warehouse staff. All IKEA warehouses are the same. Searching for the inventory I wanted was easy and IKEA had just saved a ton by having us act on our own to pick and pack products onto our cart.
Finally checkout: self serve tills lined the isle, but we weren't on our own. For the few items that were too large, there was help to move those larger boxes after we had scanned and paid for the items.
How IKEA has connected with their market is by having the right prices, great looking stuff and a flow that allows their customers to self serve and save money. IKEA is a perfect example of a connected market space. It's easy to see how IKEA connected their warehouse, with a brilliant visibility and showroom strategy, with the internal track of how customers flow through the store to find what they need.
It's not so easy to do this on the internet though. Your warehouse is the back end data of your website, and your showroom is your web presence. The track your customers follow through involves virtual images and communications rather than a colorful line.
That said. what if you could build a presence on the web that allowed your market to connect? Imagine that customers that pass by on a highway notice your presence, so they can stop by when they need what you have to offer. They're served automatically - by just visiting your store. They can do whatever they want to themselves and they can even check out on their own, or ask for help. What if you gave your market exactly whhttp://umbraco.dev.cmaeon.com/umbraco/#tab0at they needed to find from your inventory in the back end: access to your data that represents your "warehouse floor"?
What the web is striving to be a connected market space. All you have to do is look at IKEA. If you can replicate that experience, your customers will be happily carting away your products or services - happily building them for exactly what they needed in their lives.
My daughter's apartment is all set up, and Iâ've said good bye. I won't see her for months. I'll miss her as she sits in her new kitchen on the new bar stools I put together.
Building IKEA. Somehow it makes me still feel closer - feel connected.