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IKEA makes marketplace debut, opening flagship store on China’s Tmall

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IKEA has opened a flagship store on Alibaba’s Tmall platform in China. This is the first time that the world’s biggest furniture brand has made its products available on a third-party marketplace. 

IKEA’s choice of Tmall as its only – and first – third-party marketplace shows global brands recognise Tmall is the most-effective entry point to expand into the world’s second-biggest economy, China. Home to hundreds of thousands of top brands, Tmall is the preferred platform for brands seeking to digitize their China operations and forge a better understanding and closer connection with consumers in China.

The tie-up also underscores IKEA’s and Tmall’s shared goal of meeting consumers’ pursuit of a more comfortable and convenient lifestyle.

“IKEA is the world’s leading home furnishing retailer and loved by many Chinese consumers,” says Jiang Fan, president of Tmall and Taobao at Alibaba Group. “It is truly exciting for us to help IKEA explore online channels and to enable more Chinese consumers to purchase IKEA products with greater convenience.”

The opening of the flagship store will make the IKEA brand and products more accessible to Chinese consumers and lets IKEA learn how to engage with customers nationwide in a new way. The digital shop features around 3,600 IKEA products and home furnishing items.

“At IKEA, we are very proud of our IKEA stores, but we are always eager to learn how to improve our service. We are happy about this collaboration with Alibaba. I’m convinced that we will learn a lot and develop even better ways to meet our customers,” adds Jon Abrahamsson Ring, managing director of Inter IKEA Systems B.V.

China, as a market, has undergone strong digital development and now offers advanced and unique digital solutions for brands and consumers. The collaboration with Tmall exemplifies IKEA’s commitment to bringing the brand closer to the many Chinese consumers both online and offline by offering diverse meeting points, which Chinese consumers prefer, said IKEA.

Michael Schirrmacher, UK MD at Bloomreach, comments: “This move from Ikea to create a virtual store on Alibaba is a great example of a retailer providing personalised shopping to its customer base. Chinese people use Alibaba for every single aspect of their lives, as well as Alipay to pay for every purchase. Ikea obviously understands this and this move will definitely enable more Chinese consumers to purchase its products with greater convenience. Simply put, it’s a win-win for all involved and a great response to the coronavirus outbreak that is pushing shoppers to do all their shopping online.”

Schirrmacher continues:” With ecommerce becoming the go-to solution for customers around the world, brands need to rethink the way they advertise products. Shoppers don’t want to spend a long time browsing shelves to find products to purchase. Instead, their attention spans will be short, they will already know which products they’re looking for; they will want to buy them easily and know when these goods will be delivered to their homes. Brands that clearly signpost their products and push alternatives in case a product is out of stock will build a positive rapport with consumers. Those that also state how long delivery will take will gain extra trust points from customers.”

He concludes: “The shift to an online-first model is a sign of the times. Providing personalised experiences customers can relate to will ensure the strategies put in place today can last in the long term.”

Inter IKEA Systems B.V. (owner of the concept and global franchisor), IKEA Retail China and Tmall cemented their partnership via an online signing ceremony held concurrently in Shanghai and Hangzhou. 

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