Ikea launch automated drones in stores - what are they and what do they do

Swedish furniture giant Ikea has put drones to work in stores, with 100 currently in use.

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Ikea is using drones to "track inventory and improve the wellbeing of its co-workers on the floor". The furniture giant says there are currently 100 drones in use, with the latest being launched in Ikea Zaventem in Belgium.

IKEA owners Ingka Group claim to be the first retailer to use such a solution successfully at scale for stock inventory. Two years ago, Ingka Group and the Supply Chain Development Team at Inter IKEA Group, together with Verity, a provider of indoor drone systems, started developing a fully autonomous drone solution.

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As a result, one hundred busy drones are now at work during non-operational hours to "improve stock accuracy and secure availability of products for online or physical retailing". The company says the solution supports a more ergonomic workplace for IKEA co-workers as they no longer need to manually confirm each pallet.

Tolga Öncu, head of retail at Ingka Group (IKEA), said: "We are investing in technology across the board so that our stores can better support customer fulfilment and become true centres 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’ wellbeing, lowers operational costs, and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers."

Ikea automated droneIkea automated drone
Ikea automated drone

The first drone took off in IKEA Switzerland in 2021, and the hundred that are operational now are stocking inventory in sixteen different locations in Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.