Will IKEA import its c-store concept into the U.S.?
The Japanese wing of Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has opened a store in Tokyo with one foot in a new vertical.
IKEA’s new convenience store concept is located in Tokyo’s fashionable Harajuku neighborhood, according to Vice. The store consists of two floors divided up into four sections. On the first floor is the “Swedish combini,” (“combini” or “konbini” being the Japanese name for a 24-hour convenience store) which sells products like ramen and craft beer and features a coffee shop/ice cream shop and bakery. The “Sleep” and “Organize” sections are next to the convenience store portion and feature bedroom furniture and shelving. The second floor contains the “Relax” and “Cook and Eat” sections where customers can buy furniture, such as sofas, as well as kitchenware. There is also a second cafe upstairs that serves Swedish food. The store has 1,000 products for sale.
Convenience stores are a booming industry in Japan, with more than 50,000 of them in the country. Japan has more than 20,000 7-Eleven locations alone — the most of any country — and is home to that chain’s parent company.
The move from IKEA comes as it continues trying to find ways to blend itself into urban infrastructures and meet the needs of city dwellers. IKEA is known to customers for its massive, labyrinthine big box stores. Beginning in 2018, however, the chain began undertaking a major reset which consisted of an urban focus, improved delivery, in-home setup options and other enhancements.
In the course of pursuing this reset, IKEA began launching small concept stores in major urban markets like New York City, as reported by CNBC. In April of 2019, the chain had plans for 30 stores in city centers nationwide.
IKEA has also explored more experimental offerings to get the urban customer interested. In February of 2019, the retailer began piloting a furniture rental service in Switzerland.
While IKEA itself has been exploring smaller concepts, IKEA’s parent company, Ingka Centers, is thinking big. The global shopping mall owner has announced that it plans to open malls in major U.S. cities, according to Reuters.
- IKEA Just Opened a Convenience Store and of Course, It’s in Japan – Vice
- Will a radical transformation lift or sink IKEA? – RetailWire
- Convenience Stores – Japan Guide
- Number of 7-Eleven stores worldwide as of 2019, by country – Statista
- Ikea’s first small-format store is opening in New York. Here’s a look inside – CNBC
- Will IKEA become the world’s largest furniture rental outlet? – RetailWire
- Exclusive: IKEA’s shopping malls arm Ingka Centres plans U.S. entry in major play – Reuters
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Does it make sense for IKEA to expand into the convenience store space as it moves to more urban settings, and do you see this concept eventually making its way stateside? Should those in the c-store space be concerned about the entry of a player like IKEA into the business?