IKEA Canada Unveils Ambitious Omnichannel Transformation Plans Focusing on Accessibility and Sustainability [Interview]

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Retail giant IKEA Canada has ambitious plans for its continued omnichannel transformation in the coming years.

Selwyn Crittendon, CEO and Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Canada, who has been in the role for about two months, said the retailer’s vision is to create a better everyday life for Canadians.

Selwyn Crittendon

“And this has never been more meaningful. Our culture, our values and our purpose unite us as co-workers and they continue to be our compass as we transform to be leading omnichannel retailers,” he said. 

“This is all about really understanding our customers – transforming into the retailer our consumers want IKEA to be. We need to be available. We need to be accessible and we need to be affordable. But more importantly how do we also strengthen areas of sustainability that make their lives even more meaningful. That is what the purpose and what the future really looks like – a more omnichannel IKEA and an IKEA retailer that can showcase not only solutions that provide great services and really, really give opportunities for young at heart or old at heart a great place to work. 

“So IKEA will turn into not only a great place to shop but we are going to be the greatest place to work very soon.”

Image: IKEA

So what does the omnichannel transformation mean for the future?

“We started a journey here especially with our fulfillment network. We’re really creating that fully integrated fulfillment operation. We have our stores which really have been beacons for IKEA – our iconic flagship stores. But they’re now also transforming into fulfillment units,” said Crittendon. “So they’re also supporting how we get our goods closer to the many consumers that can’t really come and see us every day.

“The minute our stores get turned into fulfillment units, we’re supporting with pickup locations, we have some units that are doing their entire (omnichannel) process all on their own. So they’re not connected to a central hub or a central DC (distribution centre). They receive their goods, they ship out their goods, they package their goods. Really what we’re doing is transforming our retail locations into fulfillment locations but still have the wonderful proprietary inspiration solutions and products that you’ll find in any IKEA store globally.”

About a month ago, IKEA held a grand opening in Beauharnois, Quebec, of its latest Distribution Centre and Customer Distribution Centre in Canada to enhance the omnichannel retailer’s operational efficiency, providing its retail locations and customers with unparalleled convenience and swift service. 

The new facility is the first IKEA Distribution Centre in over three decades and aligns with the brand’s commitment to enriching the lives of its customers by offering quality products for a better life at home, said the company.

IKEA Distribution Centre in Beauharnois, Quebec (Image: IKEA)

Crittendon has been with the company for close to 23 years.

Founded in 1943 in Sweden, IKEA is a leading home furnishing retailer, offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible can afford them. IKEA Canada is part of Ingka Group which operates 389 IKEA stores in 32 countries, including 16 in Canada. Last year, IKEA Canada welcomed 26 million visitors to its stores and 189 million visitors to IKEA.ca.

Crittendon said in the future the retailer will be looking at how current stores can be part of the company’s fulfillment network.

“So you’ll see more and more that our units are fulfilling more of those consumer orders that are happening online,” he said.

“You’ll see more of these smaller pickup points like our partnership with Penguin Pickup happening across Canada. You’ll see us really tapping into the smaller format stores like Plan and Order points. And where we see the next expansion areas in the country we will come back with more traditional large format stores as well too.

“Right now I can’t say where or when but absolutely looking from an omnichannel approach how do we get to areas of the country without a physical touchpoint . . . and if we have the possibility with our fulfillment network already we can provide those orders to those customers. Greater accessibility. We’re going to be talking about more affordability with our prices and our services and then looking for reach. How do I get the consumers that can’t get to us today or we can’t get to them and finding new and unique opportunities.”

IKEA at Deerfoot Meadows (Image: Ivanhoe Cambridge)

He said the company is partnering with FedEx to unleash at least more than 2,000 parcel pickups where it can get goods quicker to customers where IKEA may not be.

“Right now it’s more important than ever for us to really listen to our consumers and be present in the conversations they need us to be there,” added Crittendon. “So what they’re screaming loud and clear right now is affordability and that’s what you’re really going to hear from IKEA for the next couple of months. It’s really screaming.

“Coming very soon, IKEA Canada will be launching some financial services that will help consumers be able to attain the solutions that they need at affordable monthly prices as well too.

“I am working aggressively to really hear our consumers and our co-workers. They’re telling me we need to be more accessible. I can’t really share any new openings right now at this instant, but I do have some things working in the background so we can become more accessible to many more.”

Earlier this year, IKEA Canada announced plans to inject more than $400 million into projects that expand fulfillment capabilities in the Greater Vancouver and Toronto Areas. IKEA Canada’s investment will help the brand continue to meet the evolving ways that customers shop today, while supporting their commitment to help Canadians enjoy a better life at home. 

Image: IKEA Canada

That included expanding fulfillment capabilities at IKEA Richmond.

In the Greater Toronto Area, IKEA Canada said it intends to build a new Customer Distribution Centre in Hamilton, Ontario in 2025 that will support expansion throughout southwestern Ontario. IKEA Etobicoke and IKEA Vaughan will also undergo expansions by 2025 to strengthen their store fulfilment capabilities and further enable the company to keep in-demand products available and delivery times as short as possible, while also supporting future growth in the market. 

IKEA Canada continues to expand its diverse network of customer meeting points including Plan and order points now open in Boisbriand and Brossard, QC as well as Kitchener, ON, Canada’s first city-centre store in downtown Toronto, and the highly anticipated small-format store at Scarborough Town Centre. 

IKEA Pick and Order Point Boisbriand (Image: IKEA Canada)
Scarborough Town Centre IKEA (Image: Craig Patterson)
IKEA Canada collaborates with Mason Studio on larger-than-life KALLAX installation (CNW Group/IKEA Canada Limited Partnership)

IKEA Canada welcomed consumers to the first-ever IKEA Canada Open House Event hosted at renowned Canadian design firm, Mason Studio. The event celebrating life at home was on display at Mason Studio’s headquarters and Cultural Hub at 91 Pelham Avenue for consumers to visit October 13th – 15th from 10am – 4pm daily. At the conclusion of the exhibit, most product displayed will be donated to Furniture Bank, a Toronto based charity and social enterprise.

“The IKEA Canada Open House Event will spotlight a larger-than-life art installation highlighting one of the brand’s most iconic and coveted storage products, the KALLAX shelving series. The KALLAX shelving series which was designed over 40 years ago by in-house Product Developer, Börje Lindgren. Mason Studio has reimagined this legacy product in a dramatic scale that blends the lines between storage and contemporary design while featuring the IKEA brand’s iconic blue and yellow. Incorporating the essence of IKEA’s playful spirit and iconic products, Mason Studio designed an exhibition to ignite discovery, interaction, and connection,” said the company.

The space also featured: 

Nytillverkad – As IKEA celebrates the brand’s 80th anniversary, it reintroduces carefully selected favorites from its design archive. The Nytillverkad collection connects iconic designs of the past with the dreams and needs of the present and future. The event spotlights the second launch of the Nytillverkad collection where the brand is showcasing ’70s and ’80s designs with product highlight including Niels Gammelgaard-designed SKÅLBODA armchair and JÄRLÅSA side table.

IKEA Kreativ – IKEA will also highlight how design and technology comes together through the recently launched AI-powered and digital experience, IKEA Kreativ.

Complete sleep – Visitors will experience a complete sleep sanctuary which highlights all six of the IKEA sleep essentials including comfort, light, temperature control, air quality, sound control, and colour and furnishings.

Seasonal collections – Visitors will be able to preview holiday collections such as the Scandinavian-folklore-inspired VINTERFINT collection and the AROMATISK collection designed to support the festivities around Diwali.

IKEA Canada collaborates with Mason Studio on larger-than-life KALLAX installation (CNW Group/IKEA Canada Limited Partnership)
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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