Has it been one year already? I moved to Sweden one year ago to start my journey at Ingka Group, IKEA’s largest franchisee. During this time, I have experienced many firsts! Such as the importance of mid-day FIKA sessions, and the fact that Sweden has its very own Cinnamon Bun Day! (Kanelbullens Dag as they call it). On this anniversary, I want to share three reflections on what it means to be part of such a purpose and values led organisation:
#1 IT STARTS AND ENDS WITH OUR CUSTOMERS: Ingvar Kamprad, our founder once said “What is good for our customers is also, in the long run, good for us”, and those words are a driving force in creating a seamless omnichannel experience. Every day we see customers asking more from brands than ever before, which is why we are rebuilding everything through the lenses of data ethics. We also understand that climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our decade, and our ambition is to make all IKEA products circular by 2030, i.e., designing products to be reused, looking at using only recycled materials, as well as finding circular solutions for customers.
#2 WE LEARN AS WE GO: We are adapting our business model as we go. With no playbook in hand, we continue to evolve, creating cross-functional teams as we go, testing, iterating and working in agile manner. For example, when you visit IKEA stores now, we can ‘Shop & Go’, able to scan articles and put them in baskets without long queues. We are building the right experiences online, through our website and app, and bringing these capabilities into our physical blue boxes. We are building a modern foundation and giving co-workers the right tools to speed up processes and focus on customer needs.
#3 WHAT SETS US APART: After one year I realize that what sets us apart from other retailers is not only our entrepreneurship spirit, but also our human-centric approach, always siding with the ‘many people’ and embracing initiatives that make people’s lives at home better. Our values are the northstar that guide our working culture and in turn, influences every decision, every investment whether related to our co-workers, employees, partners, communities or the planet.
The world has seen many challenges over the last few years. From COVID-19 to the war in Ukraine. When the pandemic hit, we saw approximately 90% of our stores close. But in true IKEA’s spirit we transformed to online overnight with the help of our digital business, turning people’s homes into gyms, offices, play areas and even schools when needed. We invested in different technologies, such as IKEA Kreativ, an AI powered experience through our app that lets customers create 3D room designs from the comfort of our home.
Above all, we are passionate about making life at home better, about helping our co-workers reskill and grow, and more importantly, sharing what we do. I am proud to be part of a movement where we motivate others to join us, to speak up and change society as a whole for the better.
Parag Parekh, Chief Digital Officer (interim) & Chief Technology Officer