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My descent into IKEA hell


My descent into IKEA hell

Ian Kerr

I have descended into IKEA hell.

I made the mistake of ordering furniture from the IKEA online store. In theory, IKEA picks the order at the nearest store, hands it over to the delivery company, and then it arrives at my address within the predicted timeframe.

Delivery is now a critical part of the customer experience. Get delivery wrong, and you lose customers.

And yes, customers are becoming more and more demanding. I'm a perfect example.

I somehow managed to complete IKEA's excruciating online ordering experience two weeks ago. I received an email advising me that the anticipated delivery date would be within 7 - 10 days. That suited me fine. As long as the furniture arrived within 10 days I'd be happy.

As you may have guessed, right now the furniture is in limbo.

You see, I needed that furniture to be delivered so that I could adjust it, before it was shipped with the rest of our furniture to our new abode...on the other side of the country.

Here's where it all gets completely absurd. When the furniture didn't materialise, we contacted IKEA, asking for the shipment to be diverted to our new address. Since IKEA's online chat representatives were telling us the order wasn't yet ready for delivery, I thought this sounded like a reasonable alternative. Also, it's a service offered by the courier that IKEA uses. But IKEA won't redirect a shipment that it has not yet attempted to deliver.

In fact, IKEA will wait until it has made three failed delivery attempts before it contacts the customer to arrange for an alternate delivery address.

Absurd? Yes.

Costly for IKEA? Almost certainly.

Inefficient? Highly. 

Aggravating for the customer? Oh my goodness, yes indeed.

IKEA could perhaps forward the order to an IKEA store near our new address (there are four in the area) to be fulfilled locally, without following through with three needless delivery attempts. But what would I know?

What's next?

I have to wait for IKEA to make its three failed delivery attempts, which may occur in the next week. Oh, that promise to deliver within 7 - 10 days? Apparently that's a bit like a politician's promise. Remember what they say: don't believe everything you read on the internet, even if it's in an email from IKEA.

What are the lessons for merchants and shippers?

  1. Don't promise what you can't deliver.
  2. Offer the latest delivery options. When the customer is paying for delivery (and oh, how I am paying for this delivery!) then the customer expects to have modern delivery options.
  3. Tell the customer the complete truth at checkout, and in the confirmation email.
  4. Keep the customer informed!
  5. Engage with the customer, don't just fob them off.

These are what most merchants and shippers would consider the basics. Yet IKEA has got them all wrong. How will IKEA survive as more and more shopping goes online?


I've ordered some furniture from another store, which promises delivery and installation within 48 hours. Fingers crossed they succeed where IKEA failed, which is to say, at every point along the way.

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