Humans of Earth, I give you: IKEA and Amazon.
Some things are just meant to go together–so obviously so that once they’re joined, it’s hard to imagine a time before. I’m thinking here of Steph Curry and Kevin Durant. Cheap wine and bad decisions. Avocado and toast. My wife and me (Awwww…). Now: BILLY bookcases and free two-day delivery.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, this isn’t official yet (although you can suddenly find a bunch of IKEA products on Amazon’s site). Moreover, the Swedish company is being a bit coy (as we’ll see below).
But IKEA’s chief executive told Reuters recently that after his company spent the first few decades of the Internet walled off in brick-and-mortar stores and on its own website, IKEA has now realized that “on digital platforms … the competitive landscape is changing.”
And c’mon, we know what that almost certainly means, right? It means that in the near future, when you ask Alexa for Swedish meatballs, she (sorry, it) will know exactly what you want.
Amazon, oh will it be Amazon?
A bit of background. IKEA, as you know, is the Swedish furniture brand Americans both love, and love to hate.
- assembling everything using an instruction book that looks it was written by Marcel Marceau, and
- fighting every other bargain-hunting human in your area on a Saturday morning as you navigate the blue-and-gold labyrinths.
Set aside the instructions; we can’t help you there. But while IKEA’s current website looks like someone took a paper catalog and tried to squish it onto a screen, there may soon be help for people who would rather shop online.
Here’s where we get to the coy part. Because even though you’d probably think this likely means IKEA is coming to Amazon, and just about everyone else probably also thinks this means Amazon, IKEA isn’t actually saying “Amazon.”
Not yet, anyway. One might expect there could be some förhandlingar to take place first.
“I leave unsaid on which (platforms),” Inter IKEA Group Chief Executive Torbjorn Loof told Reuters, “but we will test and pilot, to see ‘what does this mean, what does digital shopping look like in future and what do digital shopping centers mean?'”
And if it’s Amazon, will it be Prime?
Way back in the beginning of the Internet, people like me remember the original Pets.com, which was an online pet store (of course) that sold giant bags of dog food and cat litter–and promised free shipping on every order. In retrospect, this was kind of an insane business model, and it explains why IKEA might have a real issue in moving to a place like Amazon.
Part of the allure of Amazon–and smaller competitors, like Jet and Walmart’s digital store–is that the cost of shipping often winds up folded into the shopping cart. It’s not exactly free shipping; you already paid for Amazon Prime, for example. But it does look like it to most people who don’t read find print.
So can IKEA sell its products on third-party sites, without undercutting its direct digital and in-store sales–and on terms that could even make it eligible for programs like Amazon Prime?
I’m not sure how it will work. But if sellers can figure out how to ship a 300-pound Olympic barbell set for free, you’d have to imagine there’s a way to send an eight-pound LACK table without breaking the bank. We’ll all find out for sure next year, according to the Reuters interview–this all starts in 2018.