IKEA on Tuesday debuted a flagship store on Alibaba Group’s B2C online marketplace Tmall, marking the first time the world’s largest furniture retailer is selling its products on a third-party platform.
The virtual store, which is integrated with IKEA’s membership program, offers over 3,800 popular products and furnishing solutions. Though now only available to consumers in Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, the store will gradually expand its coverage to other locations in China, the companies said.
“IKEA is the world’s leading home-furnishing retailer and loved by many Chinese consumers,” said Jiang Fan, president of Tmall and Taobao. “It is truly exciting for us to help IKEA explore online channels and to enable more Chinese consumers to purchase its products with greater convenience.”
The Swedish furniture giant recently invested heavily in digital channels and new retail formats, including smaller outlets closer to customers in urban centers as well as a mixed-use shopping center.
“The launch of the virtual store at Tmall is truly exciting, and we believe that it will complement existing sales channels, such as our IKEA stores and e-commerce as we come closer to our customers in China,” said Tolga Öncü, retail operations manager of Ingka Group, which owns most IKEA stores worldwide. In China, IKEA operates 30 standard stores, two concept shops and a small-format store. Online, it has its website, app and now the Tmall flagship store.
WATCH: IKEA livestreams its debut on Tmall
“At IKEA, we’re always curious about new experiences and finding new and better ways to meet and interact with our customers,” added Jon Abrahamsson Ring, managing director of Inter IKEA Systems B.V., the global franchiser of IKEA.
Ring said the collaboration with Alibaba offers a great opportunity to test and trial a new platform and explore ways it can fit with the brand’s existing infrastructure, supply chain operations and customer experience.
“We take it step by step,” he said.
Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest Alibaba updates in your inbox every week.