Furniture retailer Ikea has revealed plans to launch its first Order and Collection Point in Norwich this autumn. The smaller format store aims to bridge the gap between eCommerce and bricks and mortar shopping, by providing pick-up points for online orders, as well as a location to provide customers with inspiration and advice.

Customers will be able to speak to home furnishing experts, see the product range and collect online orders. The Norwich trial store will also feature a café and have a limited range of products customers can buy in store.

Norwich customers currently have to travel over two hours to shop in store with Ikea, but the new Order and Collection Point will allow Ikea to trial a new sales channel as part of its UK expansion programme.

Speaking at the British Retail Consortium’s Symposium in London on Thursday, Gillian Drakeford, Ikea’s country manager for UK and Ireland, said its new Order and Collect Points are part of the retailer’s transformation programme to get closer to the UK consumer. 

The UK makes up a 7.3% share of Ikea’s worldwide presence with an annual turnover of £1.4 billion and 42 million visitors to stores per year. The retailer is in 18 locations across the UK, but has not built a new store in six years.

We’re looking at a different form of expansion,” said Drakeford who noted the retailer has still managed to grow over the last four years, and by 10% last year. “We’re very clear the store is very important to us in growing the market.”

Drakeford said Ikea needs to merge its traditional market offer of stores with new touch points and its online offering, which is growing at around 30% per year.

Ikea currently covers 64% of the UK, but this means customers often have to travel for at least an hour.

“People say ‘I’d like to shop with Ikea but you’re too far away’,” she said. “If we wish to grow we need to look at how we meet the market in a different way.”

“Transformation is about change,” she added. “Norwich is a test, we know we will open with an approach and format which is new for us. But we will test, try, develop and learn.”

Drakeford also said the UK is at the forefront of multichannel shopping across the globe. “My global colleagues talk about multichannel and omnichannel likes it’s something in the future, I say it’s here.”