IKEA began selling its products on Alibaba’s Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall this week.
It’s the first time the world’s number one furniture retailer has sold via a third party in its history, as it aims to extend its market share over online platforms.
IKEA’s virtual store will now begin a six month trial across the Chinese provinces of provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, and the city of Shanghai.
“We see this as a good opportunity to become accessible for many more in China, especially in light of what the Chinese digital environment looks like,” Ingka head of retail Tolga Oncu, which owns IKEA stores worldwide, told Reuters.
“We are testing this to see ‘how does this impact our brand, how does this impact our infrastructure, our own stores and e-commerce, do we reach new segments … and of course also what will the result look like’,” Once added.
The trial represents a new channel of experimentation for the group, after relying on large out of town warehouses for the majority of its trading history.
The store on Tmall will offer around 3,800 of IEA’s 9,500 products as well as services available through its own channels, such as delivery and assembly.
If successful, IKEA will roll out its Small store to further parts of China.
“In other markets there are other conditions. So we don’t see this as a starting point for a full roll-out, or a full commitment to this type of channel,” Inter IKEA incoming chief executive Abrahamsson Ring told Reuters.