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Today, Ikea has over 400 stores in 40 countries, but that success didn’t come easily, nor did it come overnight. Instead, it took a sincere dedication to quality and customer service. It also made an innovative new approach to selling furniture. Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad may be as widely known for revolutionizing retail as he is for his furnishings.

Ikea Learned to Take the Stress Out of Shopping

Before Ingvar Kamprad came along, buying furniture represented a considerable investment. When people went shopping for new items, it was in the knowledge that the purchases would have to last for half a lifetime. If possible, families passed down their old furniture to help their grown 20-something children save on this expense.

This is where Ikea comes in. When the first Ikea stores opened, they offered a far less intimidating experience. While the furnishings these stores provided might not have been sturdy enough to last generations, they also weren’t as costly. Now, families could buy new, nice looking furniture at a fraction of the cost. When the items broke, wore out, or just seemed old, they could be discarded and replaced with new items.

Ikea Improved the Shopping Experience

Traditional furniture stores grouped similar items, which could be inconvenient for the shopper. For instance, once a shopper picked out a sofa, they might go across the store to browse end tables. Conversely, Ikea arranges everything by room, so shoppers can get a better idea of how their selections will look together. Room specific decor is also included, allowing customers to furnish a room conveniently and for a lower cost.

That leftover money was sometimes spent at the Ikea cafe, where the specialty is Swedish meatballs; this was another innovation that helped change the furniture-buying experience. Providing a place to relax and have refreshments meant customers were spending more time in the store. After lunch, they might return to the showrooms to complete a purchase or begin shopping for a new room. The shopping experience was forever altered by these innovations because it took the pressure off. People could shop at their leisure and make sure they were going to be happy with their selections. The lower prices gave them the confidence to experiment as well. Buyer’s remorse became a thing of the past when Ikea opened its doors.