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The first IKEA in Wisconsin has recently opened to much excitement locally. That excitement extended into my house, and with a 15-year-old transitioning from a child to young adult bedroom it was clear that the trip could not be avoided. I like the design of much that IKEA offers but find the whole process of being herded through the store, corralled and punished at the check-out (never enough open, belts to narrow and no bagging provided) and then the final craziness of having to bring your car over to the pick-up area to load your goods, altogether unpleasant.

I planned and timed our visit, so we be there midweek and just as store opened. We arrived, and the store was just waking up, we got parked easily and went in. First nice surprise was that the store design was single level so everything on the one floor. We made our way through the zones and arrived at the pick-up aisles to get our things. All good so far (too early to stop for meatballs) and then on to the dreaded checkout. Here the challenges remain as described though you can now buy a blue bag like the yellow bags to put your smaller purchase’s in. So, made it through the checkout and out the doors to navigate the loading fiasco…. but where is the barrier? There is nothing to stop me taking my cart straight to the car…. At first, I think maybe this is a planning error and they have just not constructed this last stage of torture yet but as I survey the car park I see permanent cart corral’s dotted at convenient places, so this must be intentional. Suddenly the pain of an IKEA trip has largely been reduced and might even be bearable….

Now I have no idea if the barriers have been removed from all stores or if this is unique to ours in Wisconsin, but it got me thinking. Part of the dread of an IKEA trip is the psychological anticipation of the experience. This acts as an emotional barrier just as real as the physical barrier at the store exit. Removing this barrier has a profound effect. Just maybe I might run into IKEA when passing by, never something I would have considered previously. Maybe a trip no longer has to be planned as a campaign….

I totally understand the need and value of barriers for safety, when we can see the logic and necessity of such i.e., train crossing, school exit etc… but when we create barriers as a convenience or to support a business model approach then that barrier might end up becoming a psychological barrier to me actually engaging with that business. In the Mandt System we are committed to removing those barriers to engagement that are anything other than logical and safety related. You will see increasing evidence of this in the months and years to come. And thank you IKEA for making my recent trip something that was almost pleasant.

Simon Kemp – CEO