TECHNOLOGY

Ikea rolling out furniture assembly services

BY Marianne Wilson

Ikea is looking to take one of its customers’ major pain points away.

The home furnishings giant announced it is expanding its furniture assembly service nationwide. Ikea debuted its TaskRabbit At-Home Assembly Service in a pilot in 2016, introducing it online in select markets and in six stores in the San Francisco and New York City area. The retailer said additional stores will add the service in 2018, including those in Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Boston, Washington, D.C., and more.

Ikea’s furniture assembly service is offered through TaskRabbit, an on-demand services platform company that connects customers with workers, called “taskers,” that handle everyday needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman repairs, and home improvements. Ikea acquired TaskRabbit in September 2017.

“We are always looking at ways we can innovate and help make our customers lives at home easier,” says Jackie DeChamps, COO & executive VP, Ikea U.S. “We are excited to participate in the on-demand, sharing economy and give our customers access to a flexible, convenient and affordable service solution with the new TaskRabbit At-Home Assembly service.”

Ikea said it has updated its e-commerce site so that users can check the availability of the TaskRabbit At-Home Assembly service – based on their location and product choice – as they shop online. The price for assembly with a TaskRabbit starts at $36 and is based on a flat rate per type of item. Select products, including Ikea kitchens and bathrooms, are not included as part of this at-home assembly/mounting service program.

In addition to the furniture assembly service, Ikea announced several other initiatives, including the expansion of its “click and collect” service to additional locations in 2018. Also, in January, Ikea began rolling out a new, lower-priced shipping and delivery option starting at $29. Customers can purchase all that they want – the charge is the same regardless of weight and size.

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Report: An unlikely partnership hints at Amazon’s next move

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Instagram posts from Khloe Kardashian might have revealed Amazon’s next business quest.

Khloe Kardashian threw a baby shower last weekend, one that came to fruition through a sponsorship deal with Amazon, according to Business Insider.

According to the reality star’s Instagram posts, she is a member of Amazon’s baby registry, a service that features “millions of products” ranging from bottles and strollers to cribs and swings. Users can manage the registry on any device, and Amazon offers free 90-day returns on most items, according to Amazon’s website.

The partnership could be a hint that Amazon is pursuing a bigger investment in the baby and toy category. By leveraging the Kardashian family’s social media following and reality television series, the online giant could create sponsored content that could bolster its traction across the category, according to Business Insider.

The online giant dominated the online kids’ market with $2.16 billion in online sales in 2016, according to data from ecommercedb.com.

This eclipsed both Walmart and Toys “R” Us, which reported approximately $1.3 billion, and $912 million in online sales, respectively, during the same period.

Toys “R” Us, which filed for bankruptcy in September, continues an upward battle to compete with Amazon. The company announced last month that it planned to shutter an additional 200 stores and lay off a significant portion of its corporate staff. This came after a court filing in January in which the chain said it was planning to shrink its U.S. store portfolio by as much as 20% — about 180 locations — as part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy before the 2018 holiday season.

Last week, the company reported it was making preparations to liquidate its operations in the United States.

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Kroger expanding curbside pick-up

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

The nation’s largest supermarket retailer is increasing its delivery offerings for online orders.

Kroger Co. is expanding its partnership with on-demand delivery service Instacart. Kroger currently delivers from more than 872 stores across the country, and it offers 1,091 curbside pickup locations. It plans to add 500 new curbside pickup locations in 2018.

The decision to expand the service comes on the heels of Whole Foods Market’s announcement last month that it will offer free, two-hour delivery of natural and organic products through Amazon’s Prime Now service. The service debuted in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach. Last week, Amazon expanded the program to Atlanta and San Francisco.

“The expansion of our Instacart partnership provides Kroger the opportunity to increase our delivery offerings even further,” said Yael Cosset, Kroger’s chief digital officer. “When you combine it with our successful curbside service, it will help us accelerate our e-commerce reach significantly.”

Currently, two-thirds of Kroger’s customers – more than 40 million households – have access to curbside pickup and/or delivery, but the supermarket giant wants more.

“Our goal is for these convenient services to be available to every customer,” said Cosset.

Both programs coincide with the company’s Restock Kroger program, which includes an accelerated commitment to digital and e-commerce efforts, a front-end transformation and an increased emphasis on it private-label brands. As the company focuses on its digital shopping experience, Kroger is adding solutions that will provide customers with quicker and easier access to personalized products, recipes, digital coupons, weekly ads, and smart shopping lists, among other services.

Kroger currently offers home delivery in 45 markets through Instacart and other delivery partners representing the following divisions: Atlanta; Central; Cincinnati; Columbus; Dallas; Dillons; Fred Meyer; Fry’s; Harris Teeter; Houston; King Soopers; Louisville; Mariano’s; Metro Market; Michigan; Mid-Atlantic; Nashville; Pic ‘n Save; Ralphs; QFC; and Smith’s.

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