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Internet Retailing has an interesting piece about a new format Ikea store in Shanghai that, if successful, could be rolled out to other markets starting next year.

The format, described as "interactive and intuitive," is seen as "a move away from its traditional out-of-town warehouse format, and is part of a global transformation as the business adapts to changing customer demand and equips itself for the future."

Here's how Internet Retailing describes the store:

"Digital services from Scan and Go to self-checkout and mobile food ordering sit alongside a series of new dedicated hubs in the newly renovated Shanghai Xuhui store.

Shoppers can register for events and book for design advice online, as well as using their own mobile devices to scan items – for more information or to add them to their basket – as they move around the store before using self-checkout to buy.

"Customers at the new look store can ask local experts for advice at a maker’s hub, where they can make and repair items or work on their own circular design projects. A design hub also features in-store advice, workshops and exhibitions, while a food hub offers the opportunity to test new ideas, such as urban farming. Each will function as a community hub, offering, says Ikea, 'everything from cooking and yoga classes to home furnishing workshops, while staying true to Ikea’s mission to create a better life at home within the limits of the planet.'

"The new store also moves away from the typical journey that leads shoppers through every part of an Ikea shop, with tills at the end the journey. Now, shoppers can get to a till to pay at any point. Play areas remain a key part of the design, as do restaurants and other food options.

KC's View:

One of my favorite lines about Ikea is from Tina Fey, who once said that "Ikea is where marriages go to die."

My addition to that line is that if going to Ikea doesn't kill your marriage, putting together one of its pieces of furniture will certainly finish the job.

One of the things that Ikea has done well over the past few years is being willing to explore new formats that it sees at making it more relevant to shoppers who may be resistant to what we think of as the traditional Ikeas experience.  That's included creating urban formats that are just a fraction the size of its traditional stores, and using a combination of room displays, digital interfaces and expert employees to help customers make choices and place orders.  It has meant offering construction services to come into people's homes and offices to build their new furniture.

This is a flexibility and willingness to experiment that more retailers ought to adopt.