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flat rate shipping ikea Q&A Review

What is the best-priced mattress on the internet?

The IKEA Sultan series: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/categories/departments/bedroom/10609/ They are ,much, cheaper than what you pay at mattress stores, and I've slept on them just fine for years. As usual with IKEA stuff, the very cheapest ones aren't the best quality, but once you get a few grades up, it's really not bad. Of course it's even cheaper to actually go and pick it up at one of their stores, if you live near one, so you avoid shipping charges. Also keep in mind that they have a very different fee schedule for shipping things to you from a store than for shipping online purchases: shipping from a store is a flat rate ($75, I think, plus some insurance charges and bells and whistles), whether it's one lightbulb or you fill up the whole truck. That makes it a very good deal if you're buying a bunch of stuff at once.

Why is IKEA shipping so expensive?

They base their shipping on bulk purchases. They try and charge a flat rate for all customers. Crazy right? If you want to purchase a single chair, it will be expensive. But, if you want to furnish a whole bedroom, your cost for shipping many products would be reasonable.

How has your experience with IKEA been?

I've had hit or miss experiences with IKEA, though I generally really like it. In my answer I'll disregard the IKEA 'cafeteria' as I don't really eat there and don't consider it to be part of the IKEA 'experience'. With regard to the specific furniture and products, I'm generally pleased. Especially at the price, I find if you build it well and take care of it, the furniture lasts longer than what I'd expect for what I paid for it. I also don't mind building it, and also find the instructions easy to follow, though I gather that's pretty hit or miss with a lot of people. The thing that really frustrates me with IKEA is the shipping. As a student, I don't have a car, meaning I have to have items delivered. Furthermore, even if I DID have a car, heavier-duty products like furnitures are heavy, and difficult to fit in a vehicle anyways. As such, I often end up having the product shipped. Now most people know that furniture and heavy or large/item stores generally ship their products, and typically for free after a certain price point. IKEA, however, charges a flat shipping rate regardless of if you order a set of plates or a brand new bedroom set. While this offers an incentive to order in larger volumes, this really sort of screws the customer who only needs one or two pieces. Afterall, we don't all have the space, need or the budget for entire furniture sets. Case in point; I was shopping around for a cube-shelf unit a few weeks ago. Imagine my delight when I found one on sale for around $160. Now imagine my frustration when shipping cost me an extra $60. That shipping cost amounts to almost THIRTY EIGHT PERCENT of the product itself; when the shipping wouldn't have cost me a dime had I order from Amazon or Walmart. 'Well why not just order from Amazon or Walmart then????’ you might say. Realistically I could find a similar product at either of these retailers, but having shopped around I knew what I wanted, and as a consumer that's really all it comes down to. So I bite the bullet, pay the shipping, and place the order. Next I find out It'll be almost TWO MONTHS before it's delivered. The company claimed it was as a result of Coronavirus delays, which I expected, but two months? With stores closed, the company's entire operation was focused on online sales. Meanwhile, retailers like Walmart, which have to split their focus into both online and in-store operations, would have it sent to me within two weeks, coronavirus delay included. At such a high price, I expected top-tier shipping. When I found out how long the delay would be, I thought some sort of reduced-price shipping would be reasonable. I received neither. In short, I love IKEA. I'm generally pleased by their product quality and cost. But their online business is one of the most dissapointing I've ever used, and at the risk of sounding like a complete Karen, I absolutely will never use it again.

Is IKEA furniture any harder to construct than other brands? Are all furniture kits hard to follow, irrespective of brand?

Ikea furniture is not made to assemble quickly; it is made to ship efficiently and the assembly problems fall to the purchaser and assembler. Many companies make RTA (ready to assemble) furniture that assembles sequentially, and with minimal parts. These are usually limited runs from stores ,other than, IKEA. These use simple connectors and interlocking components as opposed to a large assortment of fasteners, cams, tiny nails, and multiple dowels of assorted sizes. RTA furniture is designed to be manufactured near the forest (so the wood chips, etc., don’t have to be shipped long distances). The products are precisely machined and cut to be “FLAT PACKED”. The difference is that assembled furniture has a lot of “air space”, that takes up room in a shipping container. RTA furniture solves that problem by shipping only components in rectangular boxes that tightly fill a container - no air, all RTA furniture! Then IKEA has fairly stringent QC procedures (like using the weight of the carton to detect if something is missing). This reduces customer service issues with missing parts, etc. The production is also heavily computerized, to further ensure QC and high production rates. The assembly instructions are VISUAL, meaning that a diagram is universal- where language is not (they ship to almost every country in the world). The instructions have minimal verbiage except for part numbers. If you are not good at understanding the pictures, the instructions will be a problem for you. Not every manufacturer makes crappy instructions, but even good instructions won’t make a difficult assembly much easier. And, Ikea does not have to pay translators for the assembly instructions. Now you know how IKEA can make furniture quickly and rapidly ship it, so now we move to the meat of your question, ASSEMBLY. Unlike conventional furniture, RTA furniture is assembled at it’s destination. The last stop is the most labor intensive, and this cost (and time) is transferred to the purchaser. The concession IKEA makes to logistics has a payback at the end, when someone has to uncrate, organize, inventory, and assemble the pieces. This is usually the most expensive labor cost, and the most critical. The sacrifice to rapid shipment and delivery is assembly challenges. IKEA is working on making better assembly methods, and programs like ,Six Sigma, seek to reduce errors and increase customer satisfaction. IKEA has made great strides in this: ,Ikea introduces its fastest, easiest-to-assemble furniture yet,. Here are some articles from the web on this: Building Your Own Furniture: Brands Ranked From Easiest to Hardest Flat-pack furniture startup Floyd produces easy-to-assemble items No Tools Required: 20 Modern Flat-Pack Furniture Pieces for Your Next Move | Freshome.com Easy To Assemble Flat Pack Furniture Aside From Ikea The takeaway is this: Some RTA furniture, by design, is complicated to assemble. All brands of RTA furniture vary in assembly method and time to assemble. Some companies (referenced above) make furniture that is easier to assemble than IKEA products. And remember, RTA furniture is much cheaper than ready made - that is why IKEA is so popular! Thanks for the A2A. Disclaimer: I owned a cabinet shop with RTA furniture making equipment. I also assemble furniture as an Elite Tasker on the Taskrabbit platform (which is owned by IKEA). I also blog about carpentry on my site, ,The Chenkin Workshop

What innovation, if any, could help physical retail stores stay relevant and maintain market share?

Customers want to know that they are paying a reasonable price for good quality items, and they want to do it with as little hassle as possible. There are many challenges that physical retail stores face, but there are many solutions available as well. Difficult to comparison shop One of the great advantages of online shopping is that you can comparison shop to find the lowest prices easily and quickly. Google Shopping, , has made this a sublimely simple task. Search for any item and you can instantly see prices for 50+ stores. [image of price comparison shopping for a GoPro on Google] The technology is already in place to make this possible in a physical store. It would go a long way to allaying customer doubts about making the decision to buy to allow this functionality easily and quickly in the store. Currently, anyone can download a barcode scanner app to my phone and check prices for comparison., , However, doing this depends on having 4G or WiFi in the store as well as being a technology savvy customer. It would be simple to put this ability in an in-store bar code scanner conveniently located throughout the store. Making price comparisons easy is a proven technique. Just look at the success of Progressive.com, , . If a customer could come into the store secure in the knowledge that they can easily check other prices right from the store, it would be a huge boon to physical retail shopping. [image of the comparison search page from Progressive.com] Limited access to product research Another area where physical retail stores suffer is the inability to do extensive product research in the store. Consumers today want to know, intimately, about the positive and negative aspects of each option before making a commitment to buy. They want to read reviews from others who have purchased the product, to see all the product specs which may or may not be listed on the package, to read technical reviews, etc. Many shoppers will do extensive research online, then visit a physical store for the final check of touch and feel. There is even a term for this trend: webrooming., , But what happens when a shopper is at the store and stumbles across a product which they had not previously researched and now, come face to face with it, suddenly realize that they want it and want to know which one is the best for them to buy. Again, the technology is available and the information is out there. It is a simple matter to bring it into the store. Imagine a customer service kiosk where customers can be directed to relevant websites to review research. In the computer section, links can be prominently available for ,PCmag, and ,TechRadar,. In the kitchen goods area, access can be easily made available to ,GoodHousekeeping., Of course, ,Amazon, is invaluable in all areas for product research. Inefficient or unpleasant customer service Customer service should be a huge advantage to physical shopping, but it all too often isn't. In a 2012 study published in USA Today, 8 of the 9 companies identified as having the worst customer service were physical retail stores. On average, online sellers scored better in customer service., , Retail stores should take heed and revamp their customer service policies and practices. According to Forbes, some of the worst customer service mistakes include poor hiring decisions, poor training, inflexibility, and lack of preparation., , Some companies are turning this around, though. For about two years, I have been shopping at Kroger, and I am always impressed by their customer service. The other day I went and was standing in front of the margarine selection. After a few minutes a nearby employee who was stocking asked if I needed help. I explained how my favorite margarine had recently changed it's recipe and was no longer delicious. I wanted to try something new but couldn't make up my mind. We talked a little about the pros and cons of the various options, then he did something shocking and amazing. He reached in his pocket and took out a sticker, wrote "free" on it and slapped it on one of the options I had been considering. "Here," he said, "give it a try." [image of a sticker marked "free" on a tub of whipped butter] Yesterday, I went to Kroger and picked up some bags of pita chips marked "buy one, get one free" But when I checked out, the discount wasn't applied. I took my receipt and my bags to the customer service counter and told him about my problem. "Here," he said as he scanned the bag, "I'll give you both for free." I was amazed and I commented on how awesome it was. He let me know that they had a new customer service policy that allowed the individual employees to be flexible like that. And it's not just me that's noticed, Kroger recently made the list of top retailers for customer service., , It is not possible for an online retailer to ever take notice of a customers indecision on a personal level and offer any sort interaction. That type of customer service is only available to physical retail stores and it should be taken advantage of. Long checkout lines When shopping online, there is no such thing as a checkout line. Once a decision is made, one can immediately pay. But this is a big issue with physical stores, so much so that there are even a "queuing theory" for how to choose a check out line., , [image of bored and impatient people waiting in line] Some physical retailers approach this problem by employing enough cashiers that a new lane can be opened whenever lines get too long, and they have a manager watching to make sure this happens. Some provide a ton of self check out areas for people with fewer items. But Walmart is taking it one step further. They are testing a new "scan & go" system which will allow customer to scan their selections as they fill their cart., , I am not sure how they will be implementing this as details are scarce, but it brings to my mind a scanner attached to a cart with a build in scale similar to the system that self check out locations use, essentially a mobile self check out. Bags could even be provided easily on the cart for mobile bagging. Customers could have the option of using a mobile check-out cart or a traditional cart and standard check-out. Limited selection It is impossible for a physical retail store to have the selection that can be found on the internet. However, there are many things that can be done to make up for this lack. Customize the selection for the location of the store. Do market research to determine what shoppers in the area need and want and make sure to provide those things. For example, in rural Ohio, a salt lick for deer is a popular item - not so much in Chicago. Partner with an online seller to supply items that customers can't find in store If an item isn't in stock, it would be a great service to be able to help a customer find where to get it. I can imagine that an internet seller (especially one less well known) would appreciate the references from a trusted source. Limited cargo space in customers vehicle It can be a struggle to fit everything you want into a small car. Just today I would have spend $40 on a chair if I could have stuffed it into my Kia Soul. How easy would it be for a physical retail store to offer delivery services? Even small stores can hire a guy with a van to make deliveries and charge the customer a flat rate for the service. Customers may even buy extra large items to make the delivery rate worth it to them. [image of two chairs strapped dangerously to the roof of a small car] Stores with online counterparts can offer shipping from their warehouse and let you pay in-store with the rest of your order. Larger items often have flyers attached which include the bar code and product description which can be used at check out. Or, the IKEA method of writing down and item code could be employed. There are already startups offering delivery services to retail stores: 4 Startups Helping Local Retailers Offer Same-Day Delivery, To sum up, there are many innovations physical retail stores can employ to compete with online sellers: Enable comparison pricing and produce research in store Capitalize on the ability to provide face to face customer service Ease the pain of checking out Partner with an online retailer to expand selection Offer delivery services

What specific design elements in Ikea's furniture contribute most strongly to its success?

Annie Wang's answer is generally right on the cost issues, however, flat pack is not necessarily less expensive to ,produce, versus set-up furniture. I have designed and sourced a lot furniture for big box and medium box stores--and I have costed the same products flat-pack and assembled. Real assembled furniture is generally held together by joints and glue. Assembling in the factory at Asian labor rates is often less expensive than flat pack furniture which requires 1) significant amount of hardware and 2) capital intensive machinery to make precision borings to the parts fit together (hopefully, anyway). The cost savings of flat pack come in the reduced amount packaging (non-trivial in furniture) and reducing shipping costs. Even direct importers with relatively efficient operations like Ikea spend huge amounts on shipping and handling between distribution centers, warehouse, stores and then finally to the consumer. What really distinguishes Ikea is not their design so much as their attention to value engineering. They use a comprehensive system of product design in conjunction with utilizing materials and factory processes in the most efficient way possible.

How is IKEA so inexpensive? What, in their production process, allows them to sell furniture so cheap?

My short answer: without speaking to overall product quality, Ikea seems to control their processes well, limit their offerings appropriately, and use everything they have really, really efficiently (pretty much like any good company that ships physical goods). My long answer: They do a good job of planning for materials: they choose common piece parts amongst their items wherever possible. If you've purchased more than 2 or 3 large furniture items for Ikea, you can confirm that they use the same fasteners, hex keys, etc. This means they can buy in larger volume from their vendors, and bargain for better prices on their items. They offer a limited variety of designs: the mechanical form of Chair Model A is pretty similar to that of Chair Model B (observe: the Poang v. the Pello v. the Boliden chairs), so they can choose from the same source materials (again, allowing them to buy in volume and at a cheaper rate). This also means they can manufacture many items the same or in similar ways, in turn reducing the rate of defects, rework, scrap (and associated costs) that can come with introducing new products. So they can offer variety, but cheaply (and even more cheaply by offering each item in a large number of colors or patterns to satiate consumer desire for variety - ,Uniqlo, does a remarkably good job of this, too). The "pick it up in the store and put it together at home" culture Ikea has saves them labor and shipping costs that their more upscale counterparts continue to carry, although their shipping costs seem reasonable when compared to said counterparts, so probably not a huge factor. Like any good company that moves large volumes of stock, they design for efficient shipping - things pack flat and tightly together, without wasting space. Their boxes are pretty much the same size between similar products, so they don't have to come up with a radically new shipping and packaging solution for every bookshelf/table/whatever design. End result: they can move more stuff per trip, and they can order it out the door quickly if they need to. They seem to have good capacity planning: I've never seen a shelf in their consumer warehouses egregiously empty or stuffed full (but to be frank, I'm not really looking). They're using space efficiently and using whatever metrics they have to make sure their goods are properly distributed to optimize sales and minimize the amount of time stock just sits around, not being sold. As far as I can tell, they keep as much work in-house as possible: the more processes they control, the more efficiently they can design and make their products, and the fewer supply chain surprises (and costs) there'll be. Or, uniform processes = more automation = overall lower manufacturing costs, which can be passed on to the consumer. Higher-end home furnishers (West Elm, Crate and Barrel, etc) have far more variety and just by looking at their offerings, you can tell they have far more suppliers.

Is IKEA furniture quality reliable?

Question: ,“Is IKEA furniture quality reliable?” Short Answer: Yes and No. It depends upon that with which you are comparing it. Technically, IKEA is not, as Frank Rivoira has noted, a manufacturer but rather a design and marketing firm that hires wood product manufacturers to build its furniture. But those IKEA products should not be called furniture, at least not in the traditional sense of the term. Rather the companies that actually build the pieces for IKEA refer to them as Flat Goods, or Flat Panel Goods. Sometimes the term KD or Knock Down Furniture is used. For this answer I will use those terms interchangeably. The design parameters for Flat Goods or Knock Down Furniture are very different from those for traditional furniture. From the drawing board Knock Down Furniture is designed to be: Simple and inexpensive to manufacture, having flat surfaces if possible and little detail and no expensive design features. Minimalism is the goal. Capable of being shipped in a disassembled state in as small and compact a package as possible. This is done to minimize both shipping and warehousing costs. Able to be assembled by with minimal tools by someone without any specialized skills. Complying with those criteria requires changing the way in which the components of the furniture are put together. That means changing the joinery. OK. Let’s look at what that means. Traditional woodwork uses several means of joining furniture components. One of the most useful of those joints is the Mortice and Tenon and its variants such as the bridal joint, and others that could be called lap joints. The other is the Dovetail Joint. The dovetail joint is always used to attach the front, and often the back, to the sides of drawers in good quality furniture. The Finger Joint is sort of a variant. All of these traditional woodworking furniture joints have something in common: They are wood-to-wood joints. No metal parts are used or needed. THIS IS IMPORTANT. For ,wood moves,. It expands as its its EMC (equilibrium moisture content) increases to correspond with its environment, and it contracts as its EMC decreases. It will do this forever; it does not matter how old the piece of wood is. And the forces are strong. If you try to restrain wood movement with metal fasteners one of two things will happen: The metal fastener will be bent, or the wood will split apart or be compressed. In wood-to-wood joints the two joined pieces (if they are the same species) will expand and contract at the same rate and to the same degree. Thus wood-to-wood joints are always superior to any metal-to-wood joint. The reason for this is that in a wood-metal joint the wood will exand and contract around incompressible metal with any change in EMC, repeatedly damaging the wood and weakening the joint. The other advantage of traditional wood joints is that, as you can see, they have a LOT of glueing surface. They have all been designed to maximize the amount of wood in contact with glue and with the other wood part. This greatly adds to the strength of the joint. There is an historical reason for this. In prior centuries wood glues (traditionally made from animal hides and hoofs) were not very good. The woodworking joint was designed to maximize the amount of wood surface in contact with that weak glue AND to remain functional even if the glue failed. The result of this is that a traditional wood furniture joint used in combination with a modern glue is truly a marvelous thing that is exceptionally strong and will remain so for generations. But not all traditional wooworking furniture joints are equally good. Probably the weakest is the Dowel Joint. The Dowel Joint suffers from having very little wood-to-wood contact or glueing surface, having much of the little contact area there is being end grain, which is NOT a gluing surface. Moreover, a Dowel Joint is a point-source joint that not only offers little strength in itself but concentrates stresses on weak points of the connected boards. Unfortunately, dowel joints are one of the few traditional woodworking joints used by designers of KD furniture such as IKEA. So let’s look at the type of joinery that IKEA and other designers of flat panel KD furniture use. These are examples (taken from the IKEA catalog) of the fasteners IKEA uses in its furniture joinery: They are Knock Down or KD fasteners. They are designed to be cheap. They allow wide manufacturing tolerances of the wood components, thus keeping their manufacturing costs low. They require only very basic tools to install. They can be used by unskilled assemblers. They allow the part to be warehoused and shipped in an unassembled state, greatly reducing storage and shipping costs. And they allow the piece of furniture to be disassembled and reassembled by the purchaser so as to facilitate frequent moves. Moreover, they allow the wood components to be assembled in different ways, allowing IKEA to use the same component in different pieces of furniture and the buyer to do his own hacking and recreate IKEA designs. However, as far as furniture joiniery goes, these things are terrible. Because they are metal or plastic they do not have the same coefficient of expansion as the wood into which they are inserted. Seasonal moisture changes, or even just taking a shower in your apartment, will cause the wood to expand and contract against these incompressible KD fasteners. Each time this happens the wood will be damaged and the joint will lose strength. Moreover, IKEA frequently uses veneered MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) for its components, and that stuff has very little fastener holding strength to begin with. Here are some typical IKEA joining methods. Note that, unlike traditional furniture wood joinery that is designed to maximize the amount of wood in contact in a joint, IKEA’s KD fasteners concentrate the stresses in the furniture joint in a very small area. This not only designs-in a weak joint but it designs-in a very likey failure point. Thus, an IKEA KD piece can break if subjected to a normal stress such as the piece being dropped or bumped or having someone or something fall against it. A traditionally built piece of furniture would easily survive the same event without damage. An example of the difference in construction is clearly shown if one looks at an IKEA drawer and compares it to the dovetailed drawer shown above. This is an IKEA drawer being assembled. It is the worst possible drawer construction method I can imagine. Everything is wrong with it: No inherent joint strength, limited glueing and fastener area, designed-in stress points, narrow weight bearing dado rather than roller bearing metal drawer slides or traditional construction. The only good thing I might say about those drawers is that they are easy and cheap to build. If one compares IKEA furniture to other inexpensive KD-Knock Down Flat Panel furniture it is pretty good. IKEA has learned to design for flat panel manufacturing and make cheap furniture quite well. But you cannot begin to compare IKEA furniture to traditionally built real wood furniture using traditional joinery methods. The two things are in different leagues. Note: Although IKEA furniture is inexpensive to buy, it is so inexpensive to manufacture that the profit margins very big. There are reasons for this. First of all the material from which it is made, primarily veneered MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) Note: IKEA furniture is very inexpensive. But it is also very cheap to manufacture. There are reasons for this. The materials of which IKEA furinture is made, generally melamine surfaced or veneered MDF or Medium Density Fiberboard are very inexpensive, especially if compared to furniture quality hardwoood lumber. And, as noted, such Flat Panel KD furniture substantially reduces shipping and warehousing costs. But the manufacturing plants needed for, and processes involved in, building IKEA furniture are also much less expensive than those for traditionally constructed furniture. There are whole classes of machinery and processes, normal and required in traditional furniture manufacturing, that are not found in Flat Panel KD furniture factories such as those used by IKEA. There is no rough mill needed to process unsurfaced lumber. There is no lumber drying operation and thus no steam, vacuum, or dehumidification kilns. There is minimal or no need for a planeing and surfacing operation or machinery. Joining operations and macinery are minimal or non-existant. No shapers are required. There are no resawing band saws or shaping band saws. There are no glueing and clamping operations. There are no veneer presses or vacuum presses. There are no CNC routers. And of course there are no skilled hand wood carvers. There are no spray guns or spray booths. Almost all finishing operations can be handled by automated spray systems or roll coaters or flow coaters which apply a finish to a flat part as it is carried through the machine on a conveyor belt. Little if any skilled labor is needed in a Flat Panel operation. Skilled craftsmen are replaced by machine operators and semi-skilled or unskilled laborers. In essence, the sort of factory that builds furniture for IKEA resembles a factory that makes plywood paneling or flooring much more than it resembles a traditional furniture factory.

Does Ikea have a delivery service?

According to IKEA’s customer sservice FAQ section, they do: Q: Do you have a delivery service? A: IKEA offers a flat rate online delivery service to your home or business starting at $9 for small item shipping and $39 for large item delivery. In store delivery starts at $59. If you choose to have your items delivered, simply speak to an in store IKEA Co-worker for more details. For more information on our services ,click here. FAQ - IKEA

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