And today in news that should delight anyone who goes to IKEA specifically for the food court — not the furniture — we have this: IKEA is reportedly testing a food delivery service that will bring Swedish meatballs right to your door. Or at least, it will in theory. We actually don’t know whether the meatballs are included in the delivery service test yet. We don’t know if the test will expand. And also, the test is only occurring in one very specific location: IKEA’s small-format urban concept store in Paris, France. That’s a lot of catches to what’s otherwise excellent news — but honestly, I’ll take it. Hope springs eternal, especially when it’s fueled by meatballs.
News of the test first dropped courtesy of Spanish news outlet El Confidencial, who noted in a report on June 12 that a delivery pilot had begun in France. “We have launched a delivery pilot in the center of Paris,” IKEA Food Services range manager Gerry Dufresne confirmed, according to El Confidencial. The location in question, reported the outlet, is the one right by la Madeleine in the eighth arrondissement; one of the company’s smaller urban concept stores, it measures around 5,400 square meters, or roughly 58,125 square feet — around four times as small as a full-sized IKEA store. It opened in early May of 2019, making it quite a new addition to Paris’ landscape.
Like most small-format versions of bigger retailers, this IKEA location contains a curated selection of items available for purchase immediately, as well as a bunch of tablets scattered throughout the store on which you can browse IKEA’s full online catalog and place orders. The idea behind the urban concept stores is for them to function less like the big, one-stop shop the full-sized stores do and more like a sort of “planning studio” — a place urban-dwelling shoppers can go to take a look at certain items and get help from an IKEA team member, but without having to A) get themselves all the way to the outskirts of the city in which they live (where IKEA’s main stores are usually located), and then B) haul their finds all the way back home with them.
Many of the urban concept IKEAs have food courts, too — and the store by la Madeleine is no exception: The “Swedish On The Go” restaurant lets you grab a snack after you’re done shopping. However, what’s not immediately clear is whether the food delivery mentioned by El Confidencial will actually feature items from the Paris store’s food court. Indeed, as both Fast Company and The Spoon observed, details are scant in general. It’s not known, for example, whether the food available for delivery is hot, or whether only cold or frozen items are available; we don’t whether the items will be ready-to-eat or if they’ll require some amount of preparation; heck, we don’t even know if IKEA’s famous meatballs will even be on the delivery menu. (According to Fast Company, the meatballs haven’t always been available at the food court in the earlier versions of IKEA's urban concept stores)
Spokespeople for the company have repeated, “We do not have any further details to share at this point, as we are very early in the process.” Alas, it appears answers to these questions and more won’t be forthcoming for a while.
Still, though, it’s not hard to see why expanding to delivery would be an attractive option for both the company and its customers. Much the same way that Costco is somewhat unexpectedly one of the largest pizza chains in the United States, IKEA is the sixth largest food chain in the world (or at least, the company claims it is). Indeed, IKEA’s food is almost a thing in and of itself, standing apart from its affordable yet stylish furniture: The company holds special events centered around its food from time to time; they're constantly testing out new items, including vegan ones; and as of 2017, they're even considering opening standalone restaurants.
The standalone restaurant idea is particularly relevant here. Delivery might be a good way to test whether there’s as much demand for IKEA’s menu offerings outside of the context of the stores’ food courts — and if the delivery test does well, not only might we get full-scale delivery across the globe, but moreover, we might finally get those restaurants, too.
In the meantime, those of us who live anywhere but Paris will have to continue to curb our meatball and lingonberry cravings at our own nearest IKEA locations. Fingers crossed that full IKEA delivery becomes a Thing in the future!