This year, I celebrated my birthday in KL. It’s not that I really celebrate birthdays anyway… just pretty much a small gathering with family and relatives. None of my KL-based friends actually know I was there.
Spent most of Monday in IKEA. Bought almost RM1K’s worth of fixtures and fittings for my new home. This was my second visit to IKEA. Must say that it’s not as interesting as when I first visited it in April this year.
For one thing, there’s no take away catalog available. It may probably be due to the sale going on. However, I still find replacing the colourful and beautiful catalogs with the laminated versions to be very irritating. Wake up IKEA people! Your catalogs are the one thing I must have whenever I visit your store. Taking that away from me is like serving me food without drinks. I’ll still eat, but it’d be better if I can have something to go with the food.
During this visit, I paid a lot more attention to the details of IKEA’s product placements and overall floor layout of their store. Obviously, there are things I like and they are as follows (all statements are referring to IKEA’s Malaysia Store):
Things I Like About IKEA
- Dispersement of useful decision making assisting tools.
- Conceptual partitioning.
- Driven to be informative and thoughtful.
- Simplicity of product design.
Like #1: Dispersement of Useful Decision Making Assisting Tools
Although hard to mention within a single breath, it’s one of the first things you’ll notice when you walk into an IKEA store.
Spread throughout the store are mini-stations with pencils, pieces of note paper and paper rulers with inches and centimetre measurements. These tools to me, are what separates IKEA from other furniture and fittings stores. It makes decision making easier and reduces time and money spent on confirming the minute details of your intended purchase.
Seriously, which do you prefer to spend more time on; Yakking on the moby to confirm the width of that peculiar corridor heading towards your living room with your Indonesian maid or imagining how the colour of that corner table you’re ogling will blend with that corridor?
Like #2: Conceptual Partitioning
Most Malaysian furniture store go from living room to bedroom to kitchen concepts without allowing your mind to make proper transition. I’m very sure those who had shopped for furniture would have experienced this, especially if you’re not sure which area of your home you want to work on or if you’re just too keen to spruce up that recently purchased abode of yours.
The thing that I like about IKEA’s floor layout is that you’re constantly made aware that you are in a particular section of the store. You’re also made informed of the areas you’ll be approaching next. The U-shaped layout makes perfect sense for those looking for inspiration as well as those who already know what they want.
Like #3: Driven to be Informative and Thoughtful
From the informative product tags to the children’s play area, IKEA strikes me as a company which actually cares. Something severely lacking in most Malaysian companies.
While many furniture shops in Malaysia have “Do Not Sit” or “Do Not Touch” signages everywhere, IKEA actually encourages you to try out their products. Sit, lie, roll on or touch the display items if you really want to experience it. How else can you get a feel of the item?
Children are seen as part of the consumer group and not as potentially destructive little monsters. Rather than keeping children away from toys, IKEA picked the higher road and make toys that are durable and long lasting. Small playhouses are a common sight in the store, and it helps the parents to focus more on the items being sold rather than on the young ones.
Like #4: Simplicity of Product Design
Most of the stuff sold by IKEA are meant to be self-assembled. Therefore, a key requirement of the products sold is that it should be idiot proof. Honestly, from experience, a huge majority of the human population are idiots, which makes IKEA’s feat more than admirable!
Armed with a screwdriver, most people would be able to assemble some of the smaller items guided merely by the instruction manual. For those with slightly lower IQ, an assistance hotline is also available. The challenge might be more daunting for bigger furniture that may require the use of power tools to get it built, but it should nevertheless be achievable for someone who has used powertools a few time in his/her life.
Something I find slightly annoying with those small IKEA assembly manuals is that it uses way to much graphical representation of how to get the job done. Well, believe it or not, most people can read! However, I guess it would be better than those China-based product manuals which are literal word-by-word translations of the Mandarin text (I still find them amusingly funny though).
Like #5: Pricing
For most items, IKEA gives good value for money. Most of the products are sturdy, practical and stylish… and at bargain prices. It’s definitely worth visiting even if in the end, you’re probably only going to spend less than RM100.
However, the pricing for cabinets and some of the larger items in store (especially cupboards and cabinets) can be made more competitive. The designs are modern and chic, but not worth the price tag. This is where the average Malaysian furniture store can give you the best bargain, and they’ll set it up for you.
Nevertheless, if you’re looking for fixtures, fittings or small furniture, there’s hardly a place where you can get modern designs at affordable prices. IKEA is the place to look for such items.