Swedish retail giant IKEA has put all its might behind the company's first store in India opening in Hyderabad. The company put in around 12 years of work and took 6 years after their announcement to open their first Indian outlet. It is finally opening on August 9. IKEA's first store in the country is nothing short of a mammoth gamble. According to consulting firm, Technopark, 1.3 billion Indians end up buying $30 billion worth of furniture and household items including linen, kitchenware and lighting but 95% of that is sold by small furniture stores.
In order to take stock of the market, IKEA teams had visited around 1,000 homes in India across different income levels to understand the complex fabric of the society. From this research emerged their eclectic collection of 7,500 varieties of home furnishing items.
The store also exhibits two full homes reflecting 'Life at Home in Hyderabad'. Different room sets including bathroom, kitchen and living room are on full display.
As cautiously as they may be approaching the Indian market, it is unlike the other markets they cater to. Indians are habituated to buying fully assembled and done up furniture - something IKEA is not known for. IKEA is known for their trademark ready-to-assemble furniture. In fact, the internet has a special corner reserved for memes on IKEA's furniture and how challenging it can be to assemble at times.
IKEA has an answer to that as well. According to a report in New York Times, IKEA has signed up 150 assemblers for their Hyderabad store. They are also working with UrbanClap to offer customers options to book an experienced carpenter who would put together the furniture.
Another driving force for Indians when they pick furniture is the pricing and durability. That is a reason Indians favour small furniture stores or warehouses. To counter that IKEA is selling their lightweight furniture and household items at a cheaper rate - some even cheaper than what they are selling in some overseas markets. Out of the 7,500 products, 1,000 are priced at Rs 200 or less. Not only that, 20% of their products will be locally-sourced as well and will be in tandem with Indian choices.
Additionally, IKEA is also offering items that have been tailored to match the Indian way of life. For eg, a set of knives and forks has been replaced by a set of spoons, their cabinets and countertops display section is kept at a lower level so that Indian women, who are shorter than their European counterparts can assess them better.
IKEA who put in Rs 1,000 crore into their four lakh square feet store sprawled across 13 acres is not only stopping here. After Hyderabad, the next store is popping up in Mumbai and eventually in Bengaluru, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune and other cities.
The company is expecting a footfall of 60 lakh visitors in a year at their Hyderabad store. It will be open throughout the week from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. To keep the customers coming, IKEA is banking not only on their product catalogue but also on food. IKEA's Hyderabad store will also have the company's biggest restaurant in the world.
From vegetarian fare like idli and sambar, samosa and vegetable biryani to non-vegetarian dishes, the IKEA restaurant's menu is tailored to suit the Indian taste buds. Pork and beef fare will be replaced by chicken dishes for the non-vegetarian customers. The 1,000-seater restaurant will have a very affordable menu including a plate of samosas for Rs 10.
By 2025, IKEA plans to open 25 stores in India. Moreover, it is also planning to eventually open large or small format stores in at least 49 other Indian cities with population of more than a million.
Keeping up with the times, IKEA is also aiming to start their online operations from Mumbai next year. It is planning to roll out online sales in cities where it can support them with delivery and assembling services.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)