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Monday, 13 July 2015

Ikea Store app still has some issues

In Ikea the other day helping a friend buy a sofa bed I decided to download the Ikea Store app. You'd think that Ikea would be the perfect place for an app. All the products have unique identifiers - in their cute little product names - for a start. Then there's the scarcity of floor staff to help out when deciding which product to choose. And finally there's the picking process where you go into the warehouse at the end of the shopping to collect your boxed items. With all of these characteristics Ikea would seem to be the place to really benefit from a good, usable app on a smartphone. Especially in helping calculate a final purchase amount and also in logging the location of the boxed items in the warehouse. You can definitely do with help in these areas.

So I downloaded the Ikea Store app while we were in the store. The first thing I noticed however is that product definition is not always so clear-cut. For the sofa bed, for example, you can choose different mattresses and different covers. While the choice of covers is provided for in the app the choice of mattresses is not, so the catalog prices available to view near the product stand were different from the price the app was showing.

But even without that little glitch - because it is most certainly an oversight by developers - there is the matter of identifying correctly the right product inside the app. My suggestion is to use QR codes that you can just snap with your smartphone camera off the sign above the product in the floor display. The other way to do it would be to include clear and concise product numbers on the display that could be used to find the product inside the app. These kinds of methods would allow no ambiguity, whereas currently you just go into the category and select the individual product by name.

I did find the correct product eventually, even though I stopped using the app as soon as it became clear that there was a problem with it. It would have been a bit easier - though not staggeringly easier - to use the phone to locate the boxes in the picking area instead of the regular piece of paper with information pencilled in on it.

Never mind. However I also want to go back a few steps to take issue with the developers of the app because enabling location data on my phone is something that I will never do. The tools they offer to enable you to find a store are therefore difficult, partly because it's a global selection. First you choose the country (!! I know, it's so weird. I have to wonder why they did this since they're going to have to offer different apps depending on the language anyway.), then you're given a state and territory selector that just doesn't work at all. So you have to scroll through the stores in Australia (not that many) to find the one you want. A better method would be to provide a text box and let people type in the name of the store they are inside; your app's algorithm could then take up the text entry as a prompt and suggest place names to the user to make it easier for them to find the right location.

In short, there are a lot of advantages to having an app for a place like Ikea, but the app they have introduced is disappointing. A few improvements in signage in-store as well as a few improvements to the app itself will help the company to produce something usable. I know that these things sometimes take time. I hardly ever go to Ikea in any case, so let them take their time to get it right.

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