Ikea doubles down on smart home tech

Dive Brief:

  • Ikea will move further into the smart home tech market. It announced a new business unit called "Ikea Home smart" on Aug. 16, according to a company press release.
  • Ikea Home smart has existed since 2012, but will now operate as its own business entity "responsible for the smart home business end to end," Ikea said.​ Björn Block will lead the new Ikea Home smart business unit.
  • Ikea has experimented in limited ways in the tech space already, rolling out smart lighting, speakers with Sonos and other products over the last few years. This new move pushes the retailer deeper into the space. "At IKEA we want to continue to offer products for a better life at home for the many people going forward," Block said in a statement. "In order to do so we need to explore products and solutions beyond conventional home furnishing."

Dive Insight:

Ikea's announcement to double down on its smart home unit shows the depth of the Swedish home retailer's ambitions in the space.

The company has been experimenting with extensions outside traditional home categories for several years. In 2015, the retailer rolled out a range of products with wireless phone charging capabilities. Ikea then unveiled a smart lighting system called Trådfri in March 2017. And in April of this year, Ikea partnered with Sonos for its Symfonisk collection, which consists of a table lamp speaker and a bookshelf speaker. Aside from products integrated with smart technology, Ikea has also placed greater focus on its mobile experience, with an announcement in May that it was in "initial phases of testing" a new app with AR functionality and a shoppable feed.

The announcement follows a growing trend of retailers, particularly in the home goods space, pushing further into technology. Casper, for example, which primarily sells mattresses, in February unveiled a smart nightlightdesigned to help consumers sleep. Additionally, a number of furniture retailers have integrated AR or VR technology into their apps to give consumers a better sense of how the products will look in their own spaces.

"The business unit of IKEA Home smart will drive the digital transformation of the IKEA range, improving and transforming existing businesses and developing new businesses to bring more diverse smart products to … many people," Block added. "We are just getting started."

Source: www.retaildive.com