IKEA: A store with the great bad design which trick you to spend more money.

A trip to IKEA is never a short one. But yet, it is fun, at least for me. Also, another thing—a trip to IKEA is rarely end with empty handed. Most of the time it ends up with more items than the actual you plan to buy.

People typically spend up to 3 hours at IKEA store. What makes people spend a long time inside? The store design. It is bad, inefficient, but it is great too.

According to Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, IKEA’s store layout is a psychological weapon to confuse and disorientate shoppers into spending more.


Every IKEA store is designed as a one way route with distinct entrance and exit. Shoppers enter IKEA, grab the blue bag, and then walk through their showroom A.K.A. their physical catalogue. In here, shoppers see IKEA items arranged in different room settings. Some of the items are also repeated several times in different settings, which shows how adaptable the item is. If a shopper wants the furniture, they must take note of the tag number and find it later on the warehouse—the second part of the store.

While the shoppers walking through the showroom, there are several small items available to grab around the corner. IKEA confusing layout makes it tricky to come back later, hence shoppers usually pick it up first. This generates a psychological sense of ownership which decreases the likelihood that it will be put down before the shoppers reach the checkout point.

What do shoppers see after walking through the showroom? A dining hall. Food at IKEA are reasonably cheap. In fact, IKEA sells their food at a loss. Again, this will turn shoppers to impulsively buy more items.

Now time for the second part of the store—the warehouse. Before shoppers get into the big warehouse to pick their furniture, they must walk through sections of smaller items. Another IKEA efforts to trick shoppers to grab more items.

Last but not least, shoppers are finally at the checkout counter with all the items. After holding off all the small items and obtaining the big furniture, shoppers pay for their items. Shoppers finally get the items needed plus all other impulsively items. IKEA succeeded to sell more items. A win-win situation.

Is the journey over now? Not yet. Last part of the store—the cafeteria is waiting for shoppers just after the checkout counter. Trust me, IKEA ice cream is delicious. It is one of my favourite ice cream here in Sydney, AU.

Overall, IKEA has been demonstrated that the design of store can make or break a product. If you end up with more items at the end of your IKEA journey, please take your time. Think again. It can save you some money.