NRF 2020 is right around the corner, and we are thrilled to highlight our customer IKEA Food in their digital transformation journey in our booth, 4237. We sat down with Lars Gunnarsson, deputy managing director and digital transformation leader, IKEA Food, to get a deeper look into their evolution as a global food retailer (and, fun fact, one of the largest food retailers today!), their vision for the UX of tomorrow, and to learn more about how they are using JDA Enterprise Store Operations to empower and motivate their co-workers.

1. Can you discuss the evolution of IKEA Food, your mission and how you have become one of the world’s largest food retailers?

Lars: Most people think of IKEA as a home furnishing brand. But even the first IKEA store in Älmhult in Sweden included a restaurant. People came from all over Sweden to visit the store and eventually got hungry. A restaurant as part of the IKEA store was an easy and convenient service to our customers. With the expansion of IKEA, this service has developed into a business on its own.

Today, 680 million people enjoy the IKEA Food offer every year in over 430 stores globally. That doesn’t make us the biggest food retailer out there, but with this reach and as a growing global food business we have the opportunity – and responsibility – to positively influence and inspire thousands of co-workers and millions of customers.

2. What is IKEA Food’s vision for the “UX of tomorrow” and how does it fuel your digital supply chain and sustainable transformation journeys?

At IKEA, we know that efficient operations and clever supply chain management are key factors to a successful business. What attendees can see at this year’s NRF is truly an early sneak peek of the digital experience that will support improved ways of working for our many co-workers in the IKEA Food business. Within the next couple of years, we want to implement new digital solutions, fully integrated into the supply chain that will support the IKEA Food business in increasing efficiency, traceability, and sustainability. The changes will affect range management, forecasting, and store operations. We expect a positive impact on many steps in our food business operations, e.g. improving goods flow (from receiving goods, inventory of goods), reducing repetitive and manual work for co-workers, and supporting a positive experience for our guests and customers as well.

3. What are three ways JDA Enterprise Store Operations is empowering IKEA’s co-workers to do their jobs better, and keeping them motivated to do their jobs?

At IKEA, we believe in people. We know our co-worker’s individual skills and capabilities to manage daily operations and challenges are a success factor for our business. It’s time to support these great individuals with new digital solutions! One of our objectives in the digital transformation journey is to achieve an improved everyday work experience for our co-workers in stores – which will benefit our customers as well. We want to replace repetitive work processes with modernized solutions that will make the IKEA Food business an even more attractive place to work. And I think the experience JDA has with digital solutions for supply chain and retail operations management is strong support for this objective.

4. What can your customers expect to see from IKEA Food in 2020, and throughout the next decade? Any new meatless products on the horizon?

Almost 10 million veggie hot dogs sold at IKEA in the last year showed us that plant-based options are attractive for our customers if they are easy, delicious and affordable. We are already looking forward to launching a next plant-based product – the plant ball, that looks and tastes like meat but is made from plant-based alternative proteins. The plant ball has been developed with one main purpose: to recreate the iconic IKEA meatball but without meat. With a climate footprint that is just 4% of the one of the traditional IKEA meatball, the plant ball contributes to the IKEA ambition to become climate positive. The plant ball will come to IKEA stores in Europe in August 2020 and a couple of months later also to the U.S. We hope it will inspire IKEA meatball lovers to embrace a more sustainable alternative without having to compromise on taste or texture.

Besides increasing the amount of plant-based food in our range we also want to bring the IKEA Food experience closer to the people, by opening smaller stores in city centers, for example. We will continue to develop our global food offer and explore new ways of meeting customers in IKEA touchpoints of today and the future with the ambition to create a modern and unique food experience, catering for people’s individual needs and taste buds in urban environments.

Join IKEA Food and JDA at NRF 2020 in New York next week, January 12-14 in booth 4237. You’ll see IKEA Food’s future vision for a new user experience as part of their digital transformation journey and can enjoy a bite of the popular IKEA veggie dog!