Visual management for customers

Ikea is a world-famous chain of furniture stores. Of Swedish origin, one of the biggest challenges of its expansion has been its ability to simplify its processes and documentation in order to standardize products. This is successful, since the pictured instructions are now a standard. I would like to come back today to other aspects of visual management proposed by Ikea to its customers.

Visual management is a tool that displays indicators or relevant information to employees to help them understand what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how to do it well. It is a support for the realization of the work.

Ikea uses these concepts to share information with its customers. Take the example of yellow bags. These large and strong bags are very practical, but are only used in stores. Indeed, the bags sold to customers are blue. The color is very distinct, which is why no one “borrows” the yellow bags. This is a standard known to all those who frequent the store, but also by those who have a store in their area.

With the arrival of automatic cash registers, where the customer scans his products by himself, all stores seek to optimize the checkout bottleneck. I will not discuss on the principle of replacing four cashiers by one, transferring the tasks to the customer, but by the way Ikea uses visual management to support its customers.

Management visuel ikea caisse

As you can see in this picture, a number of visual elements are present:

  • The printed imprint of the yellow and blue bag guides the customer to organize their checkout.
  • New blue bags are available near the hand, and their barcode is accessible.
  • The yellow bags recovery trolley is in a defined area (even if not marked on the ground)
  • There is even a marking on the ground to identify the exit of the checkout area!

At the process level, everything has been thought out:

  • The barcode reader is connected to a wire: no need to turn the article to position the barcode in front of the reader, it is the reader (smaller and more manageable) who contort.
  • The barcode reader is positioned above the yellow bag and the payment terminal is above the blue bag, in locations that correspond to the moment of their use.
  • A garbage bin is available and identified.

All of these elements accompany clients to facilitate their checkout, including illiterates or allophones who are less comfortable in French or English. Who said that a picture is worth a thousand words? You also noticed that this fast cash register is closed … The use of a cultural symbol is a good way to convey clear messages. Many organizations use them, such as red / yellow / green.

Finally, I will conclude with the sharing of the indicator of the goods delivery sector:

Management visuel ikea indicateur

If customers are informed of the goal: 7 minutes + 1 per command line, I bet that a board with goal achievement is available on the other side of the wall. In this case, the deadline was respected, since I received my three articles in less than 10 minutes!

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