The shopping experience at IKEA is like no other.
Most of us have at one point gone to one of its giant stores, unmistakable in blue and yellow; wandered through its carefully-designed paths; tasted its Swedish meatballs and lingonberry preserve; and most importantly, assembled its beautiful, Modernist furniture.
Now did you know that IKEA is a company that practiced early methods of dropshipping?
IKEA was founded in 1943 by Ingvar Kamprad at the age of 17. Working out of his family farm near a small village in Sweden, Kamprad made his start by selling matches he bought from Stockholm.
He soon expanded as a mail-order business to fountain pens, udder balms, wallets, and other small items. Kamprad didn’t always stock the items he sold, and he arranged for customers to receive their wares by bicycle, train, and often with the help of a friendly milkman.
After initial success, Kamprad scaled up, displaying his goods in a showroom. A few decades later, IKEA was growing so quickly that executives opened a store in Konstanz when they had meant to open it in Koblenz. Nowadays, IKEA has over 300 stores in 30 countries, and its catalogues are only slightly less popular than the Harry Potter books.
So what can you learn from a company with such humble beginnings? We share five lessons.