Raquel Ely, acting manager of the Jacksonville store, says low prices, reminding customers of promotions helps build loyalty.
For those who wonder how Ikea keeps its customers coming back, it’s all about keeping prices low and pushing them even lower.
That’s what the acting manager of the Jacksonville store, which opened in November along Gate Parkway, recently told members of the North Florida Public Relations Society of America.
Raquel Ely said the company continues to pursue its founder’s mission of frugality.
The furniture chain, originated in 1943 in Sweden by Ingvar Kamprad, often redesigns its products to find cost savings, Ely said.
She told a story about the store’s simple 99-cent coffee mug in its Fargrik series.
The ceramic product’s design was tweaked several times to fit more of them on a single pallet.
The original design allowed about 800 mugs to be stacked together. The second exercise fit 1,400 while the latest design allows for about 2,400 on a pallet.
“We don’t want to ship air,” Ely said, adding that every Ikea product goes through extensive testing to make sure it is well-made and functions properly while keeping the cost low.
Ely was invited to speak to the PRSA group about customer loyalty and how Ikea has kept its customers happy.
“We hold ourselves accountable to the consumer,” she said.
Despite his wealth, Kamprad became well known for thrift by flying economy class when he traveled and driving an old Volvo until it broke down.
Kamprad, who died in January at the age of 91, named the company Ikea for his name, Ingvar Kamprad, and Elmtaryd, Agunnaryd, his boyhood home.
The company’s U.S. headquarters is in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. The Ikea Group operates 252 stores in 29 countries, including 48 in the United States.
The chain’s Jacksonville store at 7801 Gate Parkway is Ikea’s fifth in Florida and 46th store in the country. At its November grand opening, more than 10,000 customers visited and about 65,000 walked the maze of pathways through the 290,000-square-foot warehouse over the first week.
In order to bring people back, Ely said the chain’s loyalty program, called Ikea Family, reminds customers of promotions.
“Building long-term loyalty … is the hardest thing for a retailer to do,” she said. “There are way too many competitors today, so you have to make sure you’re on the top of mind of a customer in consideration to shop. Otherwise, they’ll go somewhere else.”
Ely said the store developed a silent partnership with its customers in that they understand they are getting a deal on the furniture price in return for having to assemble the product at home.
“But it’s not always about the money or rewards, it’s about the experience and treatment at the store,” she said, adding that all of the employees are expected to always give excellent customer service.