Will food delivery save retail?
With the news out that IKEA and Albert Heijn will start doing food delivery at home (in The Netherlands), it's interesting how the reinvention of retail is further expanding beyond already blurry borders . IKEA, the Sweden based furniture giant, is getting digitally ready for the future and one of its future pillars is definitely food. Not a surprising fact when you take into consideration that 20 percent of the visitors of IKEA stores, specifically come for the food restaurant. But is delivery a same ballgame?

With retail being in the eye of the perfect storm called Internet e-commerce, reinventing retail is on the agenda of practically every retail chain out there. A couple of years ago, this introduction of blurring in retail stores brought already a fresh and much needed new dynamic to the retail landscape: a restaurant within the physical borders of the retail store building. For the chains that could successfully pull that in-house dining off, the next step comes as no surprise: food delivery right at your doorstep. The question rises if taking this road is the right direction: while in traditional blurring the food supported clearly the retail, how will this food delivery contribute to more sales in retail?
Last week IKEA announced that in Groningen (The Netherlands), in collaboration with Takeway.com, they will start to bring the famous Kötbullar (Swedish meatballs) right to your home. A bold move for a furniture chain that only recently had to announce they will shed 7500 people of its workforce. The project in Groningen is only a first test, but it may be clear that digital transformation for IKEA goes well beyond the physical borders of their stores, and their internet webshop.

The question will be whether people will favour this move or not. A visit to the local IKEA store is, thanks to the 'eat cheap food/eat food cheap in a restaurant setting' and the nice decorated rooms almost a family-day-out. IKEA managed to grow impressive by turning all negative points about retail shopping into positive ones: easy and free parking, kids have a space to play, there's all kind of food and the furniture itself has a right price tag. With food delivery these positives have no influence on the experience. Yes, you can eat those Kötbullar finally at home, at an elevated price (since the delivery will not be free), but the experience will be totally different or non-existing.
Although many people visit IKEA specifically for the food, it is to be awaited if this will move the needle from a top line perspective (in the case that would be an objective). It could certainly create further brand awareness and it definitely shows willingness to innovatebeyond traditional borders. One group of people will definitely not like this move: the existing restaurant owners. The IKEA restaurants are a long-existing thorn in their side and when the furniture giant now also starts to serve their food at home on a very competitive price level, it could have even more impact on local restaurants.

For retail chains that further want to explore click-and-collect and food delivery, our Shopitag platform is a perfect fit to kickstart any e-commerce scenario that has inherent complexity. Whether you serve from multiple fulfilment locations, offer a large range or small range of products, want different payment means for different countries, we have your back covered. Contact us if you want to find out more.
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