Ikea has relented to the allure of online marketplaces, striking a partnership with Alibaba's Tmall to sell its furniture on a third-party website for the first time.
It was only a matter of time. Ikea has thrived on its physical stores for 76 long years. Its stores have become a popular date spot or weekend family outing. But amid a challenging time globally for physical retail sales—which contributed to a nearly 10% fall in Ikea's profit in the financial year to the end of August 2019—the company has been looking to ramp up its online business. Currently, online accounts for about 10% of Ikea's total retail sales.
Tmall's north of 500 million users will bump that up. According to reports, Alibaba's Tmall has a 65% share of China's B2C commerce market. Alibaba also owns popular Taobao, but that platform is more designed to help smaller retailers sell online, while Tmall hosts larger merchants.
Ikea's store on Tmall will feature around 3,600 products and home furnishing items.
Inter Ikea Systems (owner of the concept and global franchisor), Ikea Retail China and Tmall cemented their partnership via an online signing ceremony held this morning (March 10) in Shanghai and Hangzhou.
The partnership between the two marks the first time Ikea will open an official store on an ecommerce site, but Ikea's products have been available to buy on Amazon and other platforms for some time—they are just sold via resellers rather than Ikea directly.
Jon Abrahamsson Ring, managing director of Inter Ikea Systems BV, said the brand is "very proud of our Ikea stores", but is "always eager to learn how to improve our service".
"We are happy about this collaboration with Alibaba. I’m convinced that we will learn a lot and develop even better ways to meet our customers,” he added.