IKEA, the popular low-cost Swedish furniture retailer, is now turning to drones to help streamline inventory management.
In a blog post, the company announced that it has passed 100 autonomous drones in service at its stores. IKEA says that, since launching the first back in 2021, the drones are now operating at 16 different locations in Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Tolga Öncu, Head of Retail at Ingka Group (IKEA), said in a statement that the technology “improves our co-workers’ wellbeing, lowers operational costs, and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers.”
“We are investing in technology across the board so that our stores can better support customer fulfillment and become true centers for omnichannel retailing. Introducing drones and other advanced tools – such as, for example, robots for picking up goods – is a genuine win-win for everybody. It improves our co-workers’ wellbeing, lowers operational costs, and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers.”
Most companies still use humans to measure inventory and handle orders to replenish that inventory. However, that process is not only expensive but also time-consuming. That’s where the drones come in. According to IKEA, the drone-supported process is much faster and more accurate than manual counting, allowing Ikea to keep better track of its inventory levels.
The use of drones for inventory management is not a new concept, but it is relatively new in the retail industry. Several companies have already implemented drone-based inventory management systems, including Walmart and Amazon. However, IKEA is one of the first furniture retailers to adopt the technology.
The idea of using drones in a store immediately brings up questions about privacy, as no one wants an inventory drone flying around and taking pictures of you and your partner arguing halfway through the gauntlet that is the IKEA showroom. Thankfully, IKEA is currently operating these drones outside of store hours, so your mid-journey breakdown is safe…for now.