Swedish home furnishing company IKEA's first India store in Hyderabad has all the ingredients of becoming a new tourist attraction in the city, considering its size, and the range, number and quality of products, coupled with price points that seem affordable to many middle income families.
Once it opens on July 19, it will be the only store in India till the company's next facility gets ready in Mumbai some time next year. Urban households in Hyderabad will have access to almost all of the home furnishing products and kitchen accessories found in European homes under one roof.
"Of 9,000-odd products that we sell elsewhere in our stores, we have 7,500 here. We did not bring the rest of those products because they have not met the quality standards that we set for our India store," John Achillea, managing director of IKEA Telangana and store manager of Hyderabad facility said when asked whether the store offers everything that the European homes have today. Of course, some of the products like roti-making tawa or a plastic lunch box have found a place in an IKEA store for the first time as it entered the Indian shores.
Starting from tables to sofas and from wardrobes to other storage items, the IKEA store designers have ensured the presence of different sizes that will fit the smallest of living rooms to average-sized or slightly bigger homes in India. The company has created 46 room models and five fully-furnished home sets in this store. In order to get people with diverse income levels to find a connect with the store, the company has lined up every type of chair or a sofa and other item of the same category side-by-side in one part of the store just to leave the ultimate buying choice to the customer.
In some cases the choice has also been extended to the colour of a table's legs or top, while a full design studio was created for those who seek to create their own kitchens with the help of in-house designers. This is going to be a new experience for those who would visit the store to buy things for their homes in the coming days.
Some of the products in the store are quite inexpensive. The company has specially designed a collection of plastic cutlery for schoolkids, priced at only Rs 15 a pack. On the more expensive side you find sofas, wardrobes and modular kitchen sets. Most of them are in the range of Rs20,000-30,000 and around Rs 250,000 in the case of a modern kitchen. The company offers a ten-year guarantee for all the kitchens.
A senior marketing executive observed that when it comes to prices of articles sold in the store, the only difference one will find here is the size of the store and nothing else. "Only the store is big. The prices are not," he said. However, IKEA has followed the footsteps of other Indian retailers as it mentioned the MRP and the sale price with a significant gap between the two on almost every big product in the store.
Big items like sofas also carries different set of prices that indicate how much it would cost if the customer do not use the home delivery service or a company service for assembling the product at home. "There is nothing free in life. There is only a hidden cost. Here we tell our customers what will they pay for the product and what will they pay for the additional service," John says.
While the entrance side of the store looks more or like any shopping mall with the only difference being a kids fun corner to allow parents to fully focus on shopping when they are in the store, the other side looks like a big factory floor with a line of bays for entry of big trucks to unload the stock followed by vertical storage area to have enough buffer to ensure the supply of every product.
While most of these products are being imported and taken here from the company's big distribution center in Pune, IKEA already found some local vendors whose products have not only found a place in this all new store but also being exported to other markets by the company. The company is sourcing the mattresses of all types entirely from a Hyderabad-based manufacturer and also started exporting it to other countries besides putting out for sale in Hyderabad store, according to John.
IKEA India country communication manager and interior design manager Mia Ollson Tuner is particularly proud of how the company's products put children at the center of a family home.