Retail

IKEA Opens Planning Studio In NYC

IKEA

IKEA has opened its first Manhattan store, but it’s unlike any of the retailer’s other U.S. locations.

The 17,000 square-foot store, located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, is about one-twentieth the size of the average IKEA location. In fact, this store is geared more for customers who are looking to design a small apartment than an entire home, with the retailer hoping to attract clients who can afford to own their own apartment in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

“We’ll bring new people into IKEA,” said Leontyne Green Sykes, chief operating officer for IKEA retail U.S., according to Bloomberg. “They’ll get a chance to see IKEA in a new light.”

The first floor of the Manhattan store teaches customers about services such as booking a free consultation, kitchen installation, furniture assembly and removal. The basement features spaces for meeting with designers, along with computers for people to craft a room on their own.

And the second floor is a mock-up of a 333-foot studio apartment where customers can learn how to do anything from planning a window treatment to dressing up a bathtub that’s not actually in the bathroom. Shoppers can make a purchase directly from a sales rep’s tablet and set up a delivery time. Unlike other IKEA locations, nothing will be taken home that day.

“People are time-crunched and want more support in their buying process,” said Green Sykes, who has been with the company for a dozen years.

IKEA calls the concept a planning studio, which first launched in London last year. The company expects to open about 20 in the U.S., including in Los Angeles and Chicago.

But the new concept doesn’t mean IKEA is giving up on its traditional retail model. Its recent acquisition of handyman site TaskRabbit is part of an effort by IKEA to increase different services meant to help customers after they purchase “assemble-yourself” furniture.

The move comes as IKEA is facing increasing competition from online-only furniture sellers like Germany’s Home24, Wayfair in the U.S. and MADE in Britain. Walmart and Wayfair offer assembly services through a TaskRabbit competitor called Handy, which recently announced a partnership with Crate and Barrel.

“Anyone who sells furniture will have a delivery service,” Kantar Retail analyst Ray Gaul said in February. “The difference will be that instead of having just a delivery service, IKEA [is] trying to give some assistance in designing your space, and that’s where TaskRabbit can be helpful.”

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