Apple and IKEA, two similar retail stories

Mike Schramm
M. Schramm|05.08.12

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Apple and IKEA, two similar retail stories

There's a fascinating writeup over at Asymco about Apple's retail strategy as compared with another very popular retail chain: IKEA. On the surface, the two brands seem dissimilar. One is a popular computer maker turned mobile device innovator, while the other is a simple and low-cost furniture maker from Sweden. But when you look at the retail scale and strategy of both companies, the similarities become apparent. Both go for high profit margins and striking design decisions, and both brands go from design to factory to retail in one big all-in-one solution.

It turns out the sales growths are similar too, with a few important differences. IKEA stores are obviously much bigger than Apple Stores, more than 30 times the size. And Apple, because it sells such expensive items, is able to claim a much higher dollars-spent-per-visitor figure, way higher than IKEA's US$27 per visitor to its stores.

But on the other hand, IKEA's sales are solid, stable, and well-earned. Furniture is not a market known for big sweeping changes or volatile pricing. Apple, on the other hand, has earned its standing relatively quickly. While its products are certainly awesome, there's always a chance another company could come along with some big innovations and steal those sales away. There's a lot to be learned in the similarities and differences between these two companies -- both have put together very successful strategies for retail, but done so in very different ways.

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