"We want to offer a different shopping experience for our customers," says Christopher Burman, the director of Ikea Arlon. The Brit, who has been working in the store located a stone's throw from the Luxembourg border for the past two years, inaugurated the showroom on 14 September, marking the completion of a €2.5m investment.
Visitors will find a series of inspirational areas that have been redesigned based on the specific characteristics of the local market, which is known to be strongly influenced by the neighbouring grand duchy, where six out of ten customers live.
From the fully equipped 55m² two-bedroom flat to the small terrace and guest bed solutions for expat families, everything was thought through during a market study that began just before the pandemic.
Three analysis channels to decipher the typical customer
In total, Ikea conducted around thirty visits to a panel of customers living in its catchment area, which extends around the grand duchy, from Thionville to Sedan, but also to the north from Durbuy to Trier. More than 150 interviews were also conducted and, as a result of lockdown, the shop's teams adapted their approach by closely scrutinising property advertisements posted on the most popular web portals.
Among the main findings, the brand noted that 70% of customers own their own home, 42% have children, 33% are single and over a quarter have pets. As for the most important rooms in their homes, the living room reigned supreme with 68% of responses, ahead of the kitchen (43.5%) and the dining room (28%).
These elements have guided the company, assisted by local interior designers, in the creation of its new inspiration zones, which seem to be more numerous although their floor area remains the same, representing 20% of the 6,500m² exhibition space.
More immersive experience
But the makeover goes beyond mere presentation: the spaces often have three to four walls, for a more immersive experience for visitors who can also hear ambient sounds such as ingredients crackling on the stove in the kitchen, but also the cries of children in their bedrooms. The company also highlights its home automation solutions with adaptive lighting and redesigned areas, such as the area dedicated to mattress testing, where the light has been dimmed and the acoustics have been refined to make it easier for visitors to imagine themselves at home.
"In this shop we showcase solutions for dreams, but also for reality", says the director. Customers can dive on to sofas that are definitely too bulky for their homes, but they can also discover a series of space planning solutions, designed on the basis of the lessons learned from the pandemic.
For example, teleworking areas are hidden away in a corner of the living room or bedroom, while sofa storage solutions provide space for yoga mats, in response to the emergence of home sports.
An extension for summer 2022
Ikea Arlon currently covers 35,500m² after its 2015 extension. The store, which opened in 2005, aims to occupy an additional 2,000m² dedicated to the preparation and collection of online orders. Their volume is currently twice as high as before the pandemic, with 20% of sales. But 90% of these purchases are collected in shop by customers. Four weeks ago, the store applied to the city of Arlon for a building permit and hopes to complete its new development by the summer of 2022.
The mayor of Arlon, Vincent Magnus, was present at the inauguration and expressed his support for the Swedish store: "Ikea is an important shop for the people of Arlon. 350 employees work there.”
As for the director, he assured that "we want to continue to develop the Ikea store in Arlon". Other parts of the shop may be redesigned in the coming months, while a new interior design consultancy service is expected to be announced by Ikea Belgium at the end of the month.
Before the pandemic, Ikea Arlon had 1.4 million annual visitors. On average, each customer walks the aisles of the yellow and blue shop four times a year.
This story was first published in French on Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.