IKEA launched its first store in India in August 2018. Like many in Hyderabad, I was also waiting for this store to open. There was a sense of pride to see a world leader in furniture is coming here. India is 55th country in the world to have an IKEA store. So, they came here really late, thanks to our fear of FDI in Retail.
5,4,3,2,1 …. blast off
So, the launch happened in early August and IKEA was in news for many reasons. For those who do not live in Hyderabad or are new to the IKEA concept, this blog post is your ticket unraveling the mystery.
Like many across India, I was forwarded this video on their opening day:
And IKEA got the imagination of the entire country. How can a single store launch attract so many people? IKEA had been struggling with excessive crowd ever since. While the situation is not as bad today, it still is a crowded store. I suspect they fine tuned their crowd management strategy to “adapt” to Indian conditions. In a typical retail store (physical or online), when the number of customers increase exponentially, stores try to keep excess customers outside and allow only limited few inside. This is done so that the people inside can have a good shopping experience.
IKEA tried this strategy initially but managing crowds outside in India is not an easy task. They probably told themselves “Vi kan inte hantera detta” and decided to reduce the wait time outside and pack as many people as possible, inside.
There was another picture that was doing rounds on social media. There is no relation between the crowded road and IKEA. Even if the store was not IKEA and some “Ram Lakhan Pan Shop”, situation on road would still have been the same. That area has major construction work happening – massive buildings, multiple flyovers, underpasses, Metro rail and aircraft carrier. Ok, aircraft carrier construction is an exaggeration. But you get the point. A road like that, when it had rained heavily that evening, during peak hour, very close to Hitec City, will obviously be crowded. Lets take IKEA out of the picture, at least on this one.
Now, what does it feel like to be inside the store and the whole experience? It is just amazing. It is a really big store (once you start ignoring the crowd that you have to jostle with). There is a wide variety of products across different categories. They have also put up a number of show case rooms along with the furnishing costs. Format of IKEA stores is really interesting and it is something you have to experience. Especially for first time visitors, it is highly improved way of shopping. Post my first visit in mid August, I compiled the below cheat sheet for visitor of the store.
#9 point above is now (September) not valid. They stopped Samosas and Biryani due to some food quality issues.
Buying a product
Do I have any feedback on the products or did I buy anything at all? Of course. We bought some small items initially and then a bigger one, a bed. (https://www.ikea.com/in/en/p/slaekt-bed-frame-with-underbed-and-storage-white-s49227752/) in our next visit. When you buy bigger items, there are some choices you need to make. You can carry those big one in your vehicle to home. But given the size of an average Indian car, we opted for the bed to be delivered by the store. They charge you for shipping, even within Hyderabad. This is not the case with other stores in general. Anyway, the next choice is the interesting one. Do you want to assemble the product yourself or would like to have someone come and assemble it for you (for a fee). I chose the former.
Yes, I kiya
Parts of the bed were delivered in super efficient IKEA style packages. I was drooling over the packaging for a long time, before deciding to open them up. Various parts inside the packages are neatly arranged and then there is an instruction sheet to help us assemble the product. All instructions will be in pictures only. We can follow them after spending few minutes.
Apart from a screw driver, everything else you need to assemble the product will be in the packaging itself. Below picture show the various stages of assembling the SLAKT bed we bought.
The stage of assembly was fairly simple. It took me about 30 minutes to assemble for normal bed. And then started the time consuming process. Under bed, along with the drawers, are very time consuming. It took me 3+ hours to assemble the rest. There are some 100 screw/nuts to be fixed and some 25+ parts. It takes time. You have to be patient.
What can go wrong in the assembly process?
- What if you use the wrong screw or bolt in a particular step? It will be a big mistake as by the time you realize something has gone wrong, it will be very difficult to back track and figure out the source of the problem. Hence you have to be really careful while using those parts. Instruction manual has images of screws / bolts with their exact size. So, before you use one, just put the actual object on the image and ensure the size matches.
- What if I break a screw / bolt during assembly? IKEA does not give additional parts. So, if you break something during assembly, then you will have to go to the store and buy replacement parts.
- The wooden parts of the bed are really delicate. If something breaks during assembly, you will have to pay lot more to get replacement as the smaller parts may not be sold separately and you may have to buy an entire package.
Aye aye, captain
IKEA experience in Hyderabad is a worthy one. Apart from seriously wide product range, you will find a number of funny scenes as well. Children being put to sleep on the showcase beds, food court being full all the time and jostling inside the store even to move from one section to another. And there are no restrictions on photography inside the store – so you see almost everyone taking selfies, couple photos, family photos and even video recording inside the store. It is kind of cute. Almost feels like people had a choice to make: go to Inorbit mall or IKEA… lets pick IKEA for this weekend.
Overall, it is a good option for furniture buyers in the city. But you should not expect IKEA to impact other furniture stores in the city. The market itself is very big and IKEA obviously has its its limitation when it comes to customer reach and customization. For now, say yes to the world leader in furniture!
What are you waiting for? If you are in Hyderabad, your weekend mission, should you choose to accept, …..