Ikea has introduced 100 autonomous drones to 16 locations, becoming the first retailer to use such a solution successfully at scale for stock inventory.
Ingka Group and the supply chain development team at Inter Ikea Group worked with Verity, a provider of indoor drone systems, to develop a fully autonomous drone solution to track inventory and improve the wellbeing of its co-workers on the floor.
Work on the solution began two years ago, with the first drone taking off in Ikea Switzerland in 2021. Following successful trials, the drones are now operation across stores in Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
The drones fly during non-operational hours to improve stock accuracy and secure availability of products for online or physical retailing.
Ikea said this solution supports a more ergonomic workplace for its co-workers as they no longer need to manually confirm each pallet.
“We are investing in technology across the board so that our stores can better support customer fulfilment and become true centres for omni-channel retailing. Introducing drones and other advanced tools – such as, for example, robots for picking up goods – is a genuine win-win for everybody. It improves our co-workers’ wellbeing, lowers operational costs, and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers,” said Tolga Öncu, head of retail at Ingka Group (Ikea).
“Being at the forefront when it comes to innovative and value adding solutions is part of the Ikea heritage. We are always curious of learning from others and this project is a great example of how we have collaborated across IKEA and together with an external partner come up with a solution that we all benefit from,” added Peter Ac, head of innovations in logistics & fulfilment, supply chain development, Inter Ikea Group.
It is not the first time the homeware retailer has deployed innovation to streamline processes. It was announced in December 2022 that it would trial solar-powered cargo bikes to reduce its home delivery carbon footprint.