Business - Deco&Design - Furniture

IKEA is training Billie to help me redecorate

IKEA is training its call centre staff and Billie to become interior design consultants, reports Reuters. The Swedish furniture giant aims to offer services that improve home comfort and answer simple questions from customers with the help of Billie, a robot that uses artificial intelligence.

In April, IKEA expanded its interior design services to the UK and the US, following earlier launches in Europe, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere, Reuters reports. In the UK, customers pay £25 for a 45-60 minute video call in which they receive interior design advice as well as a list of suggested products. They also get 3 workspace design consultations, sketches and 3D images for £125.

Ingka Group, IKEA's largest retailer, says it has trained 8,500 people working in call centres to become interior design advisors from 2021. Billie - also launched in 2021 - has in the meantime handled 47% of customer enquiries to the call centre, Reuters adds.

What I found interesting is what Ulrika Biesert, global people and culture manager Ingka Group said. "We are committed to strengthening the employability of Ingka colleagues through lifelong learning, development and retraining and accelerating the creation of new jobs." Here's to more Billie, I guess. And apparently Reuters reporter Helen Reid thinks so too, since she asked "whether the increased use of artificial intelligence could lead to fewer employees at the company". "That's not what we're seeing right now." was the response.

Voice and video call sales of products and services through Ingka's remote interior design channel accounted for €1.3bn ($1.40bn) in revenue in Ingka's 2022 financial year (01 September 2021-31 August 2022), or 3.3% of the total. Ingka Group told Reuters it plans to increase this share to 10% by 2028 as part of a strategy to attract future Generation Z customers (i.e. people born between 1990 and 2010).

By comparison, online sales of products through the IKEA website, which is owned by Ingka, amounted to approximately €9.9 billion, or 25% of total sales in Ingka's financial year ended 31 August 2022.

This year I browsed IKEA online stores in several countries and bought from those in Romania and the Netherlands. The platforms look the same, I think only the stores and related stocks differ. And the stocks of the store near you are updated in real time, which is very helpful if you want to pick up your order in person. It's extremely easy to navigate and extremely intuitive, from any platform, regardless of country.

I don't think it's far off when Billie will help me redecorate. And I don't want anyone to think I have a thing for Billie. No, I don't. I'm the first one to put pressure on IKEA prices. I can't get mad at Billie.

Source Reuters

About the author


I've had the chance to work in various departments. Thus I gained experience in Finance, Accounting, Logistics, Sales, Operations, Marketing. I am a team player and an all around player. I am an entrepreneur, I coordinated the sale of a wood varnish and paint business to a multinational. In 2016 I discovered the digital world, publishing and online marketing. Since then I have moved my accumulated experience and skills online.

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