I like most of the products from Ikea, the clean simple designs are very appealing for the most part. The prices are quite reasonable, and I certainly don’t mind putting stuff together myself. But I absolutely abhor the in-store experience. I generally hate big-box stores of all kinds, there’s just too much stuff and it’s too hard to decide what you want if you haven’t already done so before entering the store. Worse still if you have decided what you want, trying to find it is painfully hard even in a place like Home Depot where everything is stacked on shelves in straight aisles. If you haven’t been in an Ikea store, the layout has no aisles as such. Items are in various sections, like kitchen, bedroom, living room, etc. There is a sort of path that meanders around the floor of the enormous store, and there are no particular landmarks.
Because the place is so huge, devoid of windows, and having no meaningful landmarks, it’s easy to get lost and end up wandering around aimlessly. I think that this may actually be a calculated effort to get people to spend more. You get into this store, get dis-oriented, and roam, serendipitously finding stuff that seems appealing. You may end up spending a lot more than you planned. We went there today to get a coffee table, and Jules was asking me a question and I was so overwhelmed by the overload of people and stuff everywhere, that I had trouble answering the question. I don’t like shopping at the best of times, but Ikea really puts me over the edge.
I prefer to figure out what I want or need, before going to the store and then just make a bee-line for what I’m looking for, and then get out as fast as I can. I think I’m the kind of shopper that store managers hate, because I try to avoid impulse purchases. If I’m not sure what I want beforehand I tend to browse and more often than not end up walking out empty-handed.