Ikea hopes to spare shoppers the one-way Helvete of its stores with ÅR app overhaul
Projects cheap furniture into your home – but says nothing about all those leftover screws
Furniture and meatball purveyor Ikea is launching a mobile app that will project what furniture should look like into punters' homes (if they follow the instructions correctly, of course) then allow them to buy it.
The augmented reality app will be launched in France and the Netherlands followed by other top markets including China, Germany and the US by the end of the year. Brexit Britain was not mentioned.
Barbara Martin Coppola, chief digital officer at IKEA, told Reuters: "The app is combined with the store experience, with the online experience."
The move marks a change for the retailer which has taken a precautionary approach to online and app-based buying. The website has never been the easiest thing to use and delivery times are long and charges high compared to many online shops.
Getting punters to do their own work in the warehouse stores and, of course, pick up additional tealights purchases has been key to Ikea's long-running success.
The flatpack giant already offers iPhone users an augmented reality app to see what a selection of items will look like in their homes, but it does not allow purchases.
Meanwhile, Android users have to make do with a basic catalogue and store guide application, which can create shopping lists but does not allow actual purchases. Shopping still has to be done via the website or in store.
Ikea started out in 1943 in Småland, Sweden, but only really got going when it started franchising stores in the 1980s. The first UK store opened in Cheshire in 1987.
The group now boasts 422 shops in 50 markets and opened another 19 in 2018, including its first in India where Ikea aims to have 25 outlets by 2025. It employs, through franchises, about 200,000 people directly and estimates about one million work for supply firms. ®
Updated at 15.00 BST to add
Ikea has told us the app will available for Android users too.