Autonomous drones are sweeping across IKEA stores to track inventory, improve employee well-being, and lower costs.
- Two years ago, IKEA partnered with indoor drone provider Verity to create fully autonomous drones that can scan and track store inventory.
- The first drone took off in IKEA Switzerland in 2021, and the 100 that are operational now are stocking inventory in 16 different locations in Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, according to IKEA’s Ingka Group.
- The drones scan the pallet inventory so that workers do not have to manually confirm the contents of each pallet. The drones complete the job faster, are cheaper than paying workers, and perform the tedious tasks that many workers do not like to do, thus improving the workplace’s well-being.
Why it’s news
IKEA is known for its vast warehouse filled with inexpensive, build-it-yourself furniture, and the company constantly strives to create a better environment for both workers and customers, and its newest innovation will help—inventory tracking drones.
The Swedish company has recently launched drones into the store that fly around and track inventory, eliminating a tedious job that workers typically had to complete.
“We are investing in technology across the board so that our stores can better support customer fulfillment and become true centers for omnichannel 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’ well-being, lowers operational costs, and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers,” says Head of IKEA retail Tolga Öncu.
The drones are fully autonomous and can check palettes during non-operational store hours and update whether items are in stock or need to be replaced. This gives the company better stock accuracy while freeing workers to complete other tasks.
The drones are currently only available in Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, but if the robots can accurately improve inventory and well-being, the company will expand the drones to other stores in its network.