LONG BEACH, Calif. — Soon, IKEA customers won't need to walk into one of their massive stores, navigate through the crowded aisles, occasionally get lost and have to lug their decorations or furnishings into their car.
The big-box retailer IKEA is going small.
IKEA officials said they plan to open two smaller planning studios in the Los Angeles area, one in Long Beach and another in a yet-to-be-announced location. The studios will open sometime in the spring of 2022.
An IKEA spokeswoman told Spectrum News 1 the Long Beach location at the Long Beach Town Center is the first of two planning studios on the West Coast. They follow a new store format in city centers, most recently in Queens, New York.
The move is part of an effort by the Swedish multinational company to adapt and provide their offerings and services to customers in a changing retail landscape, accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic.
"Retail is evolving," Scott Burns, a managing director at JLL, said. Burns and JLL Vice President Kien Tsoi represented IKEA in their long-term lease. "This is the evolution for them. They want to provide their services to customers closer to their home and the way they [the customers] want them."
The IKEA spokeswoman said, "this move is a part of our ongoing transformation to meet customers in new innovative and accessible ways."
According to IKEA officials, the new store format will allow customers to book an appointment and meet with an IKEA design specialist to plan and order their home furnishing, and then have those items delivered directly to their home or apartment.
"You're getting personalized help and seeing the whole array of IKEA products in a different format," Burns said. "It may be a quieter format and easier way for some customers to shop."
IKEA's announcement comes as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers continue to adapt and transform their business model during the pandemic and amid a changing retail landscape, one in which consumer shopping habits have changed.
For the past year and a half, with indoor shopping and dining limited because of the pandemic, some customers were still wary of walking into a brick-and-mortar store and shopping with other people.
Businesses had to focus on providing customers with an omnichannel experience, with a special focus on e-commerce.
Having customers order items online and pick up curbside or pick up in the store are now standard services offered in many places such as Nordstrom, Macy's and IKEA. Ordering online or at the store and providing one, two, or three-day delivery service is now a must for any business.
"Customers' wants and desires are shifting," Burns said. Burns also said that companies need to take a multifaceted and strategic approach to meet the demands of the new breed of consumers.
Burns said IKEA's planning studios, smaller in size, are a great way to have a presence in city centers or dense locations so urban dwellers won't need to drive across town to visit their closest IKEA.
IKEA has four stores in Los Angeles and the greater LA area. They are located in Burbank, Carson, Covina and Costa Mesa.
The Long Beach planning studio is about 8,000 square feet. A traditional IKEA is 300,000 to 400,000 square feet, Burns said.
So instead of Long Beach residents having to drive 25 minutes to Carson or 30 minutes to Costa Mesa to visit their nearest IKEA, they'll be able to go to an IKEA planning studio at the Long Beach Towne Center.
"Understanding that many LA-area residents are often frustrated by being stuck in traffic, we identified geographic areas in the market that are beyond a 30-minute drive from existing stores and where affinity to IKEA is extremely high," Janet McGowan, the area vice president of IKEA U.S. said in a news release.
"By opening the two planning studios in the LA market, we are taking the first steps to create customer meeting points that are more accessible and convenient to the many people of the LA market while continuing to offer smart and affordable home solutions," McGowan added.