The move marks the first time the world’s biggest furniture retailer has sold through a third party in its 77-year history.
Ikea hopes to move will help it reach more shoppers in a country where shoppers to a larger extent than elsewhere favour multi-brand online platforms.
It also comes as China battles a coronavirus outbreak that prompted IKEA to shut all its 30 stores temporarily at the end of January.
IKEA said it saw its virtual store on Tmall – initially a six-month test across the east coast provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, and the city of Shanghai – as a complement to its own stores, online store and shoppable app.
Michael Schirrmacher, UK MD at Bloomreach, said: ““This move from Ikea to create a virtual store on Alibaba is a great example of a retailer providing personalised shopping to its customer base. Chinese people use Alibaba for every single aspect of their lives, as well as Alipay to pay for every purchase. Ikea obviously understands this and this move will definitely enable more Chinese consumers to purchase its products with greater convenience. Simply put, it’s a win-win for all involved and a great response to the coronavirus outbreak that is pushing shoppers to do all their shopping online.
“With ecommerce becoming the go-to solution for customers around the world, brands need to rethink the way they advertise products. Shoppers don’t want to spend a long time browsing shelves to find products to purchase. Instead, their attention spans will be short, they will already know which products they’re looking for; they will want to buy them easily and know when these goods will be delivered to their homes. Brands that clearly signpost their products and push alternatives in case a product is out of stock will build a positive rapport with consumers. Those that also state how long delivery will take will gain extra trust points from customers.
The shift to an online-first model is a sign of the times. Providing personalised experiences customers can relate to will ensure the strategies put in place today can last in the long term.”