Sunday, March 10, 2013

Not obvious if you are not using it

Today was Kim's resident's Spring cleaning day.  As part of spring cleaning, we decided to pick up a bookshelf and a drawer, and went to IKEA.  It was the first time that our family of four visited IKEA since Abigail's arrival.

What started out as pleasant shopping experience quickly started to deteriorate when Toby, my 3-year-old, started to get fussy.  As we were completing our round of the second floor (Emeryville IKEA starts shoppers off with the second floor; not sure whether that's how it is with all IKEA stores), he started to throw temper tantrums.  Luckily I had been writing down the model numbers along with aisle and bin numbers.  We took a quick elevator down to the first floor.

Then I struggled a bit trying to remember where shoppers picked up their carts.  I missed the card dispensing machine, and I went all the way to register just to find out there were carts as you enter the warehouse storage area.  So I ran back to the machine and picked up a cart.

Remaining should be easy.  I've already wrote down the aisle, bin and model numbers, so it was just matter of hitting all the spots and picking up the boxes.  Well, so I thought.  If the boxes were under 20lbs, I should not have any problem loading them on the cart.  But here's the deal.  The bookshelf that I jotted down weighed 66 lb.

I don't know whether you've tried to load 66-lb box to IKEA flat cart.  But it's not as straight forward as you might think.  That's because cart is way lighter than the box, and it glides so well with just a little push.  So what happens is that when you are alone loading the box to a cart, the cart moves around.  In short it's impossible to slide the box onto the cart.  Only way is to pick up the box and plop it down on the cart.  Or another way is to grab the cart handle with one hand and the box's end with the other, and pull them at the same time.

IKEA cart looks just like this, and
it is next to impossible to load the large items without help.

Thankfully there was a helpful fellow shopper who helped me pin down the cart.  But without his help, I would have had much harder time loading the box.  Note that I was racing against the clock to pick up all the items before Toby became a bigger public nuisance.

I'm sure IKEA engineers thought of many aspects of IKEA shopping experiences.  Yet, they seemed to have miss this one.  It would have been solved by adding a handbrake similar to airport carts.  If cart didn't move around when sliding the box to load, it would have been easier to shop at IKEA.

Things like this can only be surfaced when you actually use the system.  If you are not using your product or service, then you'll never be able to experience all the things that customers are running into.

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