A very broken process

They must do this thousands of times a week all across the world and yet the process beggars belief.

They are Ikea and the process is selling a kitchen to be delivered. It starts out promisingly. You can use an online, 3D design program to position your desired cabinets, drawers and appliances with the doors and handles that you want. You can whirl the 3D image around and print top and side views with dimensions on.

But when you go into the store to order the kitchen you designed it starts to unravel. The assistant in the kitchen department spent time with us so we could check that we hadn’t missed anything obvious and she did pick up that we had picked a waste sorting cabinet that wasn’t being used with a sink meaning she could change the drawers to be much deeper. But then she had to manually add text lines in the order that was generated from our design in order that we could see which group of five parts related to which cabinet. After this protracted process we collected the cabinet legs and other little bits from the warehouse and went to pay.

After paying we queued at the Home Delivery desk, where to our shock a very nimble fingered man took the printed order sheet that we got from the kitchen department and proceeded to re-key all the stock numbers and quantities for each one of the 45 individual parts needed to put together our kitchen into the picking and delivery system. Why the kitchen systems and the delivery system don’t talk to each other is amazing to me.

He was a bit put out when I asked to check his duplicate entry, but I knew that five minutes to spot a mistake was better than weeks to try and get Ikea to send the correct part. In fact it was all correct – this time – but I wonder how may orders get copied over incorrectly given the number of kitchens Ikea must deliver every year in all their stores.

To top it off we couldn’t choose a day for delivery. We ordered on Sunday so they pick the next day and deliver the day after that. So it was Tuesday or we wait three weeks. The reason given was that they don’t like to pick an order then have it lying around waiting for delivery. That I understand, but I see no reason that they can’t put our order on the Thursday pick schedule so they deliver to us on the Friday that is most convenient.

I wonder if any of their senior staff has walked through the process as a customer like I had to do this weekend? I’ll wager that they can’t have, since if they did they would want to change it quicker than I could say, “We’re missing half our kitchen.”



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