Leading you by hand.

Operations management and product design… Two important areas each organization should focus on in order to differentiate itself from its competitors and become a success.

A very successful organization that has managed to become a very well known brand and a leader in its industry by developing its own operations management style and focusing on its product designs is IKEA. The IKEA vision is “To create a better everyday life for the many people.” Its business idea is to offer a wide range of well designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.

By focusing on product design, consumer value, clever solutions, and by using inexpensive materials in a novel way and minimizing production, distribution and retail costs, IKEA was able to offer its customers furnishing products at low prices compared to its competitors. The IKEA product range is developed to be extensive enough to have something that appeals to everyone and to cover all functions in the home. The products are modern not trendy so they are practical enough for everyday use. They are functional and appealing, and enable many people to improve their home life through practical solutions to everyday problems. Creative yet practical!

Not only that, IKEA products are subjected to rigorous tests to make sure that they meet national and international safety standards (Quality Management).

IKEA has developed a unique way to manage and craft its customer experience and therefore had become its core competence. Many organizations tried to copy this approach but so far none were met with success. The IKEA concept builds on a relationship with the consumer. IKEA is one of those stores with a great shopping experience that evokes word of mouth. I always look forward to my visits there. It is so much fun to just sit on all those couches or envision how that bedroom would look in my own house.

What IKEA management has done was that they have studied thoroughly the customers’ behavior and their hot buttons when it comes to shopping for furniture and focused on developing its shopping environment and operations in a different way from its competitors. They focused on developing unique ideas and solutions that meets different styles and tastes in reasonable budgets by featuring mock up rooms with different sizes and showcase how their products could fit in small rooms and houses.

They have also been very successful in creating some kind of a walkthrough experience from the entry point to exit point with having some arrows on the floor guiding the customers to move from one section to the other. In a way, they are leading you by hand to make your shopping experience more enjoyable.

It might look very simple when discussing the different aspects of a successful operations management in IKEA, but combined together, it is a force to reckon with. Do you not agree?

5 thoughts on “Leading you by hand.

  1. IKEA most certainly is a great company. I had the privilege of working for them in the past while I was in the US. I definitely agree with you regarding their superb operations management system and product design. Since I worked for them, I can guarantee that they have a very large operations management team. Since it is a worldwide company many things happen in their daily routines, and the system they use is very well organized. IKEA is a perfect example of operations management and product design. While working for them we had different schemes to find out what object people paid attention to and which objects did not appeal to the customer. Our system for keeping track of our products was very organized to the extent that we also had access to see if a certain item was in stock at another IKEA store within the region. Even though I no longer work for them, I always enjoy visiting an IKEA store.

  2. You capture the spirit of IKEA so well by describing it as a “walkthrough experience”. Having visited an IKEA store on my last trip to the US, I truly felt the organization an high attention to detail and presentation wherever I went. IKEA fills a gap in the market that did not exist. In essence, it created a market in itself. Before IKEA, affordable, sleek, and quality furniture was unheard of. But thanks to this Swedish company, many have sprouted out now to compete with IKEA. This new market is able to serve a large consumer base, and in its inception allowed for greater access to great furniture. Since this market is growing so rapidly, there is a constant need by companies like IKEA to be highly efficient and manage operations in the most optimal manner. In doing so, the company adapts to new market trends and are able to serve to a larger audience.

  3. The “walkthrough experience” mentioned in the article is a creative and enjoyable practice which draws people on the furniture effectively. Integrating my experience with the “walkthrough experience” depicts in the content, IKEA does giving customers a better understanding of how to furnishing house with the furniture it provides. The prices of products in IKEA fit to the budgets of most customers, but it is still higher than some individual retailers which are not as famous as IKEA. Also, IKEA as a retailer of home decoration company brings people many inspirations by offering them variety kinds of styles of furniture; However, customers may just want to gain the inspiration from the IKEA store and then go to buy the furniture in other places, like Walmart, or other local retailer markets. Moreover, the quality of design of the product seems higher than the actual quality of products, which makes IKEA more like the furniture company works for the people who just moving into a place temporarily. The operation management is somehow weakened when customers have more choices in different price range to choose, like Walmart or Bloomingdale’s, where also provides convenience or well designed products.

  4. Agreed. You have to imagine that with copy cat company’s like Target and Walmart now, that business has fallen slightly. Only because Target is more accessible and convenient for the city, but you can’t mimic what IKEA has and that keeps consumers coming back. The first time I took the walkthrough experience, it seemed like a never ending maze of cool nick nacks and day dreams. The store is so huge, yet everything is under control and finding the product at the end with a simple bin number is a charm. The best thing of all is the prices because it’s competitive with top brands features and aesthetics, yet cheaper. Although I have found out the moving the furniture repeatedly from apartment to apartment isn’t so fun and you tend to break some of the cheap wood. This place is “always” swarming with new home owners and college students. Let’s not forgot it doesn’t take much to put it together either. Tools included for convenience as well. So all in all i give IKEA management two thumbs up for providing a service that is unmatched in the market.

  5. I for one have never visited an IKEA store. However, when I got to college I realized that it was a rather common source for furnishing the freshman dorm as well as the college apartment. The furniture however never seemed to hold up as well as furniture at a higher price point. I guess you have to view IKEA as “you get what you pay for.” Yes, the product is inexpensive and, from what I understand, easy to assemble. However, the product also is not as durable or as comfortable as some of its competitors.

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