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Ikea has plans to recruit more than 150 people into data and technology roles across Europe over the next year.
As part of the search for talent, which the furniture brand has dubbed ‘taste the future’, Ikea is hoping an alternative interviewing approach involving 3D-printed vegan meatballs will help to attract a more diverse range of people in locations such as the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland.
Inter Ikea Group CIO, Pascal Pauwels, said: “Ikea is at the start of a journey to embrace data and technology to become more affordable, accessible and sustainable in an omnichannel environment.
“Naturally, people with imagination will play a big role in that quest. So, here we’re looking for people who want to create a better everyday life with us. This campaign is a great way to start the conversation.”
While there is currently a lack of diversity in the tech sector, one of the benefits of increasing the different types of people in tech teams is the creativity diversity of thought brings to the table – different people have different ideas, and having a variety of people creating products means those products are more likely to meet the needs of more people.
Over the past few years, Ikea has been aiming to make its products and services more sustainable and affordable, something the retailer believes can be achieved through hiring people who are not only knowledgeable in areas such as technology, data, retail and furnishings, but who are also imaginative.
The hope is that offering candidates a 3D printed, plant-based version of Ikea’s Swedish meatballs will attract some of the more creative tech talent, and act as a jumping-off point for ideas around how technology can be used to improve our homes in the future.
Referring to potential candidates as “future architects, down-to-earth data scientists, unboxed engineers, cyber guardians” and “common sense makers”, Ikea claims its digital teams use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and machine learning (ML) in “rebellious ways” to innovate the business and its products.
The retailer is currently advertising digital jobs in its engineering and technology, e-commerce, material innovation, exploration, co creation and innovation, IT and digital solutions and sustainability teams.
Like many retailers, Ikea saw a shift in customer behaviour during the pandemic, not only because lockdowns led to closure of shops, but also because people’s homes became their offices and schools.
This is something the retailer dealt with by turning its closed warehouses into fulfilment centres and click-and-collect locations, with the firm’s chief digital officer, Barbara Martin Coppola, saying that this wouldn’t have been possible had Ikea not already been working with Google Cloud as part of its ongoing digital transformation project.
Ikea’s focus on digital began a few years ago, when the retailer announced it would be focusing on its digital remit and creating smaller stores for convenience shopping and as part of its next step towards business transformation.
While this initial shift in direction led to redundancies, at the time the firm claimed a new focus on digital would lead to the creation of 11,500 new jobs globally in the following years.
In line with the shift towards convenience shopping, a smaller Ikea store will be opening in London in February 2022, with a focus on the more compact home items usually found on the bottom floor of Ikea warehouses, with the option to order larger items for home delivery at a later date.
The brand also scrapped its physical catalogue in 2020 in a bid to become more digitally leaning, claiming fewer people were reading the catalogue than in the past as consumer behaviour has shifted more online.
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