My IKEA is a new service within the IKEA website that allows for a more personalized, convenient, and explorative method of online shopping.

Timeline
1 Month (Summer 20')
Discipline
Service Design
User Research
Concept Prototyping
For
IKEA's online website
With
Youie Cho
Fangzheng Zhu

My IKEA is a new service within the IKEA website that allows for more personalized and convenient online shopping while also embodying the iconic showroom experience that exists in IKEA's offline store locations.

In collaboration with two other designers, I led the team through the user research, concept prototyping, and design system phases to reimagine how IKEA can transition their online web platform to become more personalizable, interactive, and fun, especially as there is a growing trend towards e-commerce.

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01. My IKEA Feature Overview
02. Problem Discovery
03. Market Research
04. User Research
05. Ideation
06. Experience Pillars & User Flows
07. Reflection & Next Steps

My IKEA Feature Overview

01. The Home Dashboard provides an overview of the service's features as well as the user's current progress.

02. The Smart Questionnaire is used to generate showrooms based on logical requirements and personal needs, tastes, and styles.

03. The Showroom provides a way to visualize the products within the space to ease the decision-making process.

04. My Design allows quick customization and adjustment of the products as well as the interior space.

05. Wishlist and Checkout is integrated into the service to allow easy transition between different pages.

Problem Discovery

IKEA, one of the world's largest furniture retailers for affordable and ready-to-assemble home goods, has the vision to create a better everyday life for the many people and to make the every day wonderful. However, with the current pandemic going on, new challenges are arising. From this, we examine four main problem spaces and the areas of opportunity to intervene that would continue to benefit the business even when the pandemic is over.

1. Challenges from the COVID-19 Pandemic
IKEA’s revenue fell 75% earlier this year as many of their store locations were forced to close due to the coronavirus. However, even as stores begin opening and customers come back, challenges still exist with safety measures and longer-than expected wait times.

2. A Growing Shift Towards "e-Commerce"
Most retailers have seen more than 10 percent growth in their online customer base during the pandemic and many consumers say that they plan to continue shopping online even when brick-and-mortar stores reopen.

3. Digital Platforms Cannot Rival with the In-Store Experience
At the moment, much of IKEA’s customers prefer the exploratory and fun experience from going through their carefully-designed stores. While the digital platforms sell and show the same products, it lacks a component that makes it also a special experience.

4. Making Sustainability Efforts an Even Bigger Deal
While IKEA is moving towards sustainable efforts, there is still a lot of work they can do especially since they use a staggering 1% of the world’s wood every year.

Market Research
By defining our problem spaces and the areas we wanted to intervene, this allowed us to narrow down the scope of our research on the market. We began our research by first looking at the current business model used of IKEA. Through this, our focuses were on the value propositions of the service as well as their customer segments.

Why Focus on Online over Offline?
Time: long waiting line, often crowded
Availability: items tend to be more likely out of stock in-store
Logistics: limited number/size of items to take home
Context: COVID-19 pandemic, competitiveness in growing global shift towards e-commerce

Missing Gaps in the Current Online Experience
Themed exploration: difficult to see, touch, try, explore, and experience the curated showrooms
Personalization: recommendations and searches that are more based on need-oriented suggestions
Decision-making: difficult to imagine how physical items can look from only the digital realm

User Research
Another way of conducting research was looking at the various channel touchpoints of IKEA to see how each different areas allow for the stages of 'Awareness & Choosing IKEA,' 'Explore,' 'Make Decisions & Checkout,' and 'Delivery & Installation.'

This later helped us map out the journey of how the users navigate through both IKEA's retail stores as well as their online website platform. Between the maps, there is a stark emotional difference between the two channels at stages of Exploration and Decision-Making. We heard our users say that oftentimes, it is much more overwhelming and confusing to purchase physical, long-lasting items on digital platforms than to just go to the actual store.

The following key insights and pain points were also observed by the users through methods of interviewing and surveying, which allowed us to create this main persona.

Ideation
Based on the insights that we gained from user research, we decided to focus on there main goals in our new service: visualization, recommendation, and personalization. From this, we started to ideate some of the concept and ideas through sketching.

In our initial brainstorming, much of our ideas revolved around the idea of a room, much like the ones present in IKEA's physical showrooms. We also recognized that sustainability was a problem space that we could potentially address, but as we ideated more on the area, we recognized that it was a feature that just didn't align as well with the other problems that we were addressing. As we began to sketch in higher fidelity, we started to develop features that would support the need for visualization, recommendation, and personalization that we had heard from then users.

1. Visualization: allowing customers to better see and understand the product in space through 3-D models and renderings
2. Recommendation: providing suggestions based explorative activities and questions as well as personal saved preferences
3. Personalization: narrowing down the amount of steps needed to be perform to get to items of personal need and interest

After settling on the overall features that we wanted to pursue, we decided to start looking at how we would began to brand this service.

From our mood board, we found many different new and fresh styles of the IKEA logo, but in the end, we wanted our service to easily be recognizable with what currently exists. In the end, this was the final branding we decided to use for our service, which deviates a little from what IKEA currently has, but is still enough that it feels interesting and fresh.

Our design system for developing the interfaces of our new service. There is also a static and animated logo that we designed as well as a general tagline to be used in our service branding.

Experience Pillars and User Flows
Developing the prototype of the service, we created six main experience pillars of the service as well as the user flow for how they will be navigating through the platform.

This user flow describes how our customers would typically navigate through our service with the addition of the Virtual Assistant, a feature that we will potentially develop further in the future.

Here are the final interface designs for the main experience pillars our the My IKEA service.

Reflections and Next Steps
Working on this project, it was a great opportunity to learn how to create a new service built on already existing design systems, business goals, and key features. While some of the project journey had some constraints as we designed with IKEA's image in mind, having the foundation also allowed us to creatively explore and rethink what IKEA's current platforms could become. In the end, we believe that our service will bring three main values.

1. Allow IKEA to remain competitive during and after COVID-19
2. Provide a more engaging and personal online customer experience
3. Leverage and combine existing IKEA features to make better use

Since the ideation and prototyping process of the project was done in just two weeks, we recognize that there are still many potential next steps to further elevate the work we have currently done. Here are some of them.

1. Test the service solution with a diverse set of use cases
2. Understand the solution and its implications from a business perspective
3. Push some of our underdeveloped features even further
4. Iterate on the brand identity to better reflect the new service

Thank you for reading! 🌀🌀🌀

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