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IKEA tests new store formats that free shoppers from the maze of aisles
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IKEA is testing two new store designs that rip up the blueprint of its signature maze-like showrooms, as the retailer explores how to keep physical locations relevant in the age of e-commerce.
Ingka Holding B.V., which operates the majority of IKEA's retail stores, this month reopened a location in the Xuhui district of Shanghai that was renovated to test its "future store format," a space where visitors can conceivably spend hours doing things other than shopping. Alongside showrooms and a shop for small items is a cushioned, theater-like space where IKEA hopes people will hang out with friends, a restaurant that showcases sustainable food practices such as urban farming, and a "Maker's Hub" where staff help customers repair old and build new items.
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The retailer on Thursday will also open a new compact store in Vienna. Located next to the large Westbahnhof train station in the Austrian capital, the store will encompass five stories and a rooftop cafe. There is no parking lot, unlike at IKEA's usual, sprawling installations far from city centers. Accessories and smaller furniture can be carried out, and larger items can be ordered for next-day home delivery.
In both spaces, customers can use their phones to scan items for purchase as they walk around. And they can take any route through the stores that they please.