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IKEA Adjusts Its Sales Approach As It Wagers On Remote Interior Design

IKEA Adjusts Its Sales Approach As It Wagers On Remote Interior Design
In order to expand its home improvement services and give routine client inquiries to Billie, an artificial intelligence bot, IKEA is training call centre employees to become interior design consultants.
Following earlier launches in several regions of Europe, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries, IKEA expanded its interior design services to the UK and the US in April. Customers in the UK can pay 125 pounds for three workplace design consultations, a layout, and 3D images, or they can pay 25 pounds ($31.44) for a 45–60 minute interior design consulting video call and suggested product list.
Ingka claims to have trained 8,500 call centre employees as interior design consultants since 2021, and Billie, which was introduced the same year and takes its name from IKEA's Billy bookcase line, has taken care of 47% of call centre clients' inquiries over the last two years.
"We're committed to strengthening co-workers' employability in Ingka, through lifelong learning and development and reskilling, and to accelerate the creation of new jobs," said Ulrika Biesert, global people and culture manager at Ingka Group.
When asked if the company's usage of AI would likely result in fewer employees, Biesert responded, "That's not what we're seeing right now."
Ingka's remote interior design channel generated 1.3 billion euros ($1.40 billion) in income in its fiscal year 2022, or 3.3% of the total, through sales of goods and services over the phone or via video. In an effort to win over potential Gen Z clients, Ingka Group told Reuters that it plans to increase that proportion to 10% by 2028.
Comparatively, Ingka's IKEA website sold goods online for over 9.9 billion euros, or 25% of total sales during the fiscal year that ended on August 31, 2022. IKEA is owned by Ingka.
In line with rival Wayfair, which last month unveiled a "Digital Design Studio" in-store kiosk where customers can experiment with furniture styles and layout in a digital rendering of a room, IKEA is investing in digital services as it begins a 2 billion euro expansion in the United States.
"It's not surprising that IKEA are now focusing on virtual sales channels - if anything the surprise is that it's later than it could have been," said Jocelyn Paulley, a technology lawyer and co-head of the retail sector team at Gowling WLG in London.
To ensure that the colours, textures, and sizes of the objects are accurately portrayed and to reduce returns, she said, these virtual services demand tremendous expenditure.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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