The other day I gave my email address to IKEA so they can notify me when a certain new product becomes available to order. Yesterday that notification arrived, and it serves as a great example of how IKEA still seems to be struggling to leave its old-world roots behind and embrace the digital age.

Here's a screenshot of the email.

IKEA email

A "no-reply" email address is as 90s as it gets. It's a rude and lazy "talk to the hand". The sender is basically turning email into a one-way broadcast and forcing you to use the channels of their choosing should you want to reply.

But IKEA even goes a step further: They actually tell you in the first line of the email that they do not want you to send them email:

"Dies ist eine Non-Reply-Nachricht..."

The statement itself is comical, but what makes it even more ridiculous is that they're mixing German with English. And they're only telling you that you can't reply to the email, but they're not providing you with alternative means of communication. They do actually mention a phone number you can call, but it's only listed in the email's footer, where they also list their, yep, fax number.

Then there's the incorrectly encoded special characters that show up as question marks. This is especially ironic, given how many of IKEA's products have umlauts in them. Also note the <br> in the subject line and that, even though they're sending an HTML email, they fail to make the link to the product's availability page clickable.

The plain-text version of the same email looks even worse:

IKEA email

Not only does it contain the same broken umlauts, it also contains entity-encoded HTML tags and it's missing all the information the footer in the HTML version contains, like the customer service phone number. Ironically, in this plain-text version the link at the bottom is actually clickable because my email client, MailMate, recognizes links in plain-text emails and makes them clickable.

This single email really underlines IKEA's ongoing reluctancy towards embracing e-commerce. It shows a clear lack of understanding of even the most basic aspects of online business and communication.

IKEA's marketing's main goal still seems to be to get you to visit their brick-and-mortar stores. While their website/online store is actually not that bad, you can still tell that they'd rather have you come by in person. Maybe it's because they actually make their money on the hot dogs, who knows.

The best way to tell how ass-backwards IKEA's approach to e-commmerce is by taking a look at the shipping costs for online orders. They actually increase with the order value.

IKEA shipping costs

Admittedly, the same shipping costs apply when you buy in their stores and have it shipped instead of hauling it home yourself. But that's exactly the problem: IKEA is adapting offline strategies to e-commerce 1:1 without taking the realities of online shopping into account. You really have to wonder if they're even really taking e-commerce seriously.

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