The great uniformity of apartment buildings from the Soviet era has proved to be a welcome inspiration for Ikea: in five stores, customers can use VR to give their apartment a virtual update. The tool may later be used in a number of other countries as well.
Approximately 60 % of Russians live in Soviet-era blocks of standard flats, which have only a limited number of designs and floor plans. Ikea has put those maps on its Russian website and has given them a virtual makeover. Customers can choose from a number of suggestions and redecorate their entire apartment with just a few clicks.
The service is called "Kvartiroteka" - roughly speaking, "apartment library" - and has already brought 2.8 million visitors to the furniture giant’s website since its launch in June last year. The many new customers tool brought Ikea, contributed to the 17 % increase in turnover in Russia last fiscal year - the second biggest growth in any country after Hungary. It is therefore no surprise that Ikea is also considering extending the service to other countries with similar buildings, such as Poland or China.
"Many people couldn’t believe that they could do anything good out of this standard typical planning", Pontus Erntell, head of Ikea Russia, told Bloomberg. "The idea was to show that there can be lots of different things to do and to inspire people to do something to change their lives in their homes."
Residents of Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Tyumen (one of the largest cities in Siberia) using Kvartiroteka have the opportunity to seek further advice from an adviser in one of the five city centre stores, which Ikea calls design studios. These smaller shops, along with e-commerce, are becoming increasingly more important for the retailer as more and more people live in the city and order things online.