Will Ikea’s new small format, shopping centre store have urbanites flocking?

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When we heard that Ikea was opening a new format store at Westfield Stratford City we couldn’t wait to head over and take a look. We were intrigued. It felt like the obvious direction for Ikea when opening a shopping centre format would be a Marketplace version of the current warehouse offering – cue mind’s eye visual of endless aisles of spoons, lamps and Swedish chocolate. So the knowledge that the new store only offers about 40 small products to buy that day got us scratching our heads.

It’s not a familiar approach – no vast blue and yellow big box city here, rather, a sleek, modern entrance with huge windows and a clear sightline into store. This enables a glimpse of the impressive vertically stacked roomsets which add theatre and entice you through the door.

Billed as an ‘Order and Collection Point’, the 900m2 store clearly offers exactly this. But it’s so much more than the functional title suggests. Whilst the order and collection points are clearly marked, it’s also a space to gain inspiration, seek advice and help planning – somewhere to create your perfect, bespoke, dream home.

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The store cleverly uses the full ceiling height for merchandising. This serves several purposes, creating visual theatre, suggesting breadth of range and also inspiring customers that the sky really is the limit.

Staff were on hand and appeared very helpful and supportive. It’s also possible to access the full range via the ‘discover more’ screens, and the ubiquitous catalogues are available to take home as usual.

All in all it feels like a great space to browse, design and dream. We have to admit that we rethought our initial doubts around the proposition and quite liked the focus on planning and ordering. It’s definitely a different approach to the familiar Ikea showroom procession where you feel desperate to get through the roomsets to the Marketplace and grab the bits and bobs you didn’t know you needed before having a hotdog.

We will be watching this (much, much smaller) space.

Author

Sean Dwyer