Swedish furniture giant Ikea has started selling its articles via Alibaba's Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall. It is the first time in its 77-year history that the furniture giant sells through a third party.
Ikea hopes to reach more shoppers through Tmall: more than elsewhere, shoppers in China have a clear preference for multi-brand platforms. Another pressing reason is the fact that the home improvement chain had to temporarily close all its thirty stores in the Asian country as a result of the corona crisis at the end of January.
The virtual store at Tmall is a six-month test for the provinces on the east coast. "We see this as a good opportunity to become accessible for many more in China, especially in light of what the Chinese digital environment looks like", head of retail Tolga Öncü told Reuters. "We are testing this to see 'how does this impact our brand, how does this impact our infrastructure, our own stores and e-commerce, do we reach new segments ... and of course also what will the result look like'."
If the test proves successful, Ikea wants to roll out the Tmall store to more parts of China. According to Jon Abrahamsson Ring, future CEO of Inter Ikea (which owns the Swedish brand), the chain currently has no plans to sell to other markets via third parties, however.
The furniture giant sees China as an important growth market. The store at Tmall will offer some 3,800 of the approximately 9,500 Ikea products, as well as services available through its own sales channels, such as delivery and assembly.
Of the thirty stores that closed at the end of January, Ikea has already reopened sixteen. A further twelve are scheduled to reopen on Wednesday. This is possible because China has in the meantime eased the measures taken in response to the corona crisis.