Ikea Australia wants to revolutionise how consumers shop and design their bedrooms. And the global empire is watching how the bold strategy is being adopted in suburbs across the country.
Sydney’s Tempe store is the first to be fitted with the concept which brings together interactive technology, mattress testing, and textiles aimed at softening the room’s mood.
The display suites — dubbed the complete sleep studio — are a series of themed rooms which give the consumer privacy to experience the products and will be rolled out across the country in the next two months.
The furniture retailer drew on a sleep study by the University of Adelaide which found nearly half of Australians experienced trouble sleeping which impacted their everyday lives.
The 2016 survey says a quarter of the population use the internet most or every night of the week just before bed and have frequent sleep difficulties or daytime impairments.
This is an issue Ikea country sales manager Mark Mitchinson says the retailer has a responsibility to improve.
“There are a lot of sensory experiences that can help for a better night’s sleep,” he told news.com.au. “Green living through plants is good for breathing oxygen and are fantastic to have in your home environment.”
The chain is also experimenting with featuring textiles above the bed to soften the mood of the room and reduce noise and light.
“Sometimes it’s just having a sense of calm around you with the different types of home furnishings and accessories you want in your bedroom,” Mr Mitchinson said.
Ikea is the latest big brand to develop experimental design strategies in its stores as a means to resist the growing pressures from online purchasing behaviours, says Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer.
Earlier this month tech giant Apple released its own plans to modernise the user experience in its stores.
“We’re seeing more and more retailers today looking to experimental marketing strategies and tactics in order to differentiate themselves away from online retailers,” Dr Mortimer told news.com.au.
“Online shopping is great in the sense that it provides convenience and people can shop at any given time. But it’s not the same experience as going into a retail store.
“Ikea are creating a real experience of how we live through our products.”
Dr Mortimer said the approach creates a strong contrast with the regular mattress shops Australians typically experience; showrooms of empty beds presented in formation.
“It’s quite an artificial way to buy a product and we have to imagine this product in our homes and in our bedrooms,” he said.
“Ikea are taking that to the next level to put these mattresses inside a studio where we can change the lighting, the music, the curtains.
“It tends to enable consumers to better picture that product inside their house.”
Mr Mitchinson said the complete sleep studio concept resists the competition from internet retailers by offering a service users can’t get on the web.
“Yes you look at a picture of an online mattress that might have some fantastic reviews but how do you actually look and feel and try it,” he said.
“Our individual sleep pods allow you to go and enjoy the different elements of the sensory experience but be a little bit more secluded from everyone else that is walking through the store.”
Ikea’s global chief executive Jesper Brodin checked out the strategy while in Australia last month and Mr Mitchinson said he was “very impressed”.
“The next stage for us is to learn quickly from this rollout across Australia and then work out what the key success factors are,” he said.
“There’s a very good chance that we start to take a lot of these learnings and roll them out overseas.”