Professor: Ikea is successful because store layout like a maze

Posted Jan 24, 2011 by David Silverberg
A UK professor claims retail outlet Ikea is so attractive to shoppers because its floor design is maze-like and confuses shoppers. He adds, "The way to the exit is always behind you."
Shoppers shopping at Ikea
Shoppers shopping at Ikea
Alan Penn, director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, concludes Ikea confuses their customers "into submission by designing their stores like a maze," the Scotsman reports. The iconic yellow paths turns customers into disoriented shoppers, who end up buying things they may not need, Penn says.
"It is so well done and so cunningly done that I have little doubt that it is intentional," he told the Scotsman.
As the Local reports, customers are forced to walk through the entire store before they can leave.
The Daily Mail reports Penn saying: "Also you're directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like light bulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren't planning on getting."
Penn believes Sweden-based Ikea has a calculated strategy to make shoppers spend more, similar to what supermarkets try to accomplish. "They couldn't get away with having shoppers going in one single route like Ikea, so what they do is put popular purchases like milk and bread at the far end of the store so you have to walk past shelves of other products on the way."
The Telegraph quotes an Ikea spokeswoman who denied that its store layouts were designed to baffle customers.
She said: "Our furniture showrooms are designed to give our customers lots of ideas for every area of the home including your kitchen, bedroom and living room."
Ikea has 283 stores in 26 countries and raked in profits of $3.6 billion last year.