IKEA Supply Chain: Network of Efficiency and Sustainability

From product design to delivery, IKEA supply chain  is a well-oiled machine that prioritizes efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. These features have helped IKEA build a competitive advantage and maintain its position as one of the world's largest furniture retailers. Don't be missed out of this concept with Viindoo.

IKEA Supply Chain: Network of Efficiency and Sustainability

Overview of IKEA

IKEA is a multinational furniture retailer, founded in Sweden in 1943. It is known for its affordable, ready-to-assemble furniture, home decor, and accessories. Today, IKEA has over 400 stores in more than 50 countries.

Supply chain management is crucial for IKEA to ensure that its products are manufactured efficiently and cost-effectively, and delivered to customers in a timely and reliable manner. With such a vast global presence, IKEA's supply chain is a complex and integrated system that requires careful planning and management to maintain its operations and ensure customer satisfaction. Effective Supply chain management software can also contribute to IKEA's overall profitability and competitiveness in the market.

IKEA Supply Chain Strategy

Direct Supplier Relationship

IKEA maintains a direct supplier relationship with its suppliers, which means that it works directly with the manufacturer rather than going through intermediaries.

This strategy allows IKEA to have better control over the quality and cost of the products, as well as the working conditions of the workers in the supplier's factories.


IKEA outsources the production of its products to third-party manufacturers, primarily in low-cost countries like China and Vietnam.

Outsourcing enables IKEA to take advantage of lower labor costs and access to specialized expertise, while also allowing it to focus on its core competencies such as design, marketing, and retail operations.

Efficient Logistics

IKEA has a highly efficient logistics system that involves centralized warehousing and distribution centers, as well as cross-docking and flat-packing of products to minimize transportation costs.

This strategy enables IKEA to reduce lead times, lower transportation costs, and improve inventory management, ultimately resulting in lower prices for customers.

Sustainable Supply Chain

IKEA is committed to promoting sustainability throughout its supply chain, from sourcing sustainable materials to minimizing waste and reducing carbon emissions.

A sustainable supply chain not only benefits the environment but also can improve IKEA's reputation and brand image, while also reducing long-term costs and improving supply chain resilience.

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Just-in-time inventory management

Just-in-time inventory management is a lean manufacturing approach that emphasizes ordering and producing products only when they are needed in the supply chain, rather than maintaining large inventory levels. IKEA has implemented this approach to reduce excess inventory and associated costs, which can be significant for a global supply chain in retail with a vast array of products. 

By ordering products only when they are needed, IKEA is able to maintain lean inventory levels and minimize the costs associated with storing and managing large amounts of inventory.

Cost-effective pricing

Cost-effective pricing is a key element of IKEA's business model, which is based on offering high-quality furniture and home decor products at affordable prices. By optimizing its supply chain operations, IKEA is able to minimize its costs and pass on the savings to customers in the form of lower prices. 

For example, by maintaining direct supplier relationships, outsourcing production to low-cost countries, and using just-in-time inventory management, IKEA is able to reduce its production and transportation costs.

IKEA Supply Chain: Network of Efficiency and Sustainability

IKEA Supply Chain Strategy

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How does IKEA Supply Chain work?

IKEA's supply chain is a complex and integrated system that involves several stages and processes, from product design to delivery to the end customer. Here is a general overview of how IKEA's supply chain works:

  • Product design: IKEA designs its products in-house, with a focus on affordability, functionality, and aesthetics.
  • Supplier selection and management: IKEA selects suppliers based on their ability to provide quality products at a competitive price, while also adhering to IKEA's sustainability and social responsibility standards. The company maintains direct relationships with its suppliers and conducts regular audits and assessments to ensure compliance with these standards.
  • Procurement: IKEA procures the materials and components needed to manufacture its products, working closely with its suppliers to ensure timely and cost-effective delivery.
  • Manufacturing: IKEA utilizes subcontracting to manufacture its products, primarily in low-cost subcontractors in China and Vietnam. The company provides its manufacturers with detailed product specifications and quality standards, and closely monitors the manufacturing process to ensure compliance.
  • Transportation and logistics: IKEA has a highly efficient logistics system that involves centralized warehousing and distribution centers, as well as cross-docking and flat-packing of products to minimize transportation costs. The company uses a range of transportation modes including road, sea, and air to move products around the world.
  • Inventory management: IKEA uses a centralized inventory management system to optimize safety stock levels and minimize waste. The company employs a just-in-time inventory system, where products are ordered and delivered as needed to reduce excess inventory and associated costs.
  • Retail operations: IKEA sells its products through its retail stores, which are designed to showcase the products and provide customers with a unique shopping experience. The company also offers online sales and home delivery options.

Overall, IKEA supply chain examples are focused on delivering high-quality products at affordable prices, while also promoting sustainability and social responsibility throughout the supply chain. By leveraging technology, logistics, and efficient inventory management, IKEA has built a global supply chain that enables it to compete successfully in the global marketplace.

IKEA Supply Chain: Network of Efficiency and Sustainability

How does IKEA Supply Chain work?​

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Challenges Faced by IKEA Supply Chain

Supplier Relationship Management

One of the challenges faced by IKEA's supply chain is effectively managing its relationships with suppliers, especially given the large number of suppliers across different countries and cultures. Ensuring compliance with IKEA's sustainability and social responsibility standards, as well as quality control, can also be a challenge.

Supply Chain Complexity

With a global network of suppliers, manufacturers, and distribution centers, IKEA's supply chain is inherently complex. Managing this complexity requires careful planning and coordination, as well as the use of technology and analytics to optimize operations and minimize costs.

Sustainable Supply Chain

While IKEA has made significant strides in promoting sustainability throughout its supply chain, there are still challenges to ensuring that all suppliers and partners adhere to its sustainability and social responsibility standards. Additionally, implementing sustainable practices can often come with higher costs, which can be a challenge for maintaining IKEA's commitment to low prices for customers.

IKEA Supply Chain: Network of Efficiency and Sustainability

Challenges Faced by IKEA Supply Chain

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At IKEA, we use more than 1200 local furniture suppliers around the world, alongside 100 food suppliers and 275 suppliers of transport. The five countries that supply most of our goods and services to IKEA are China, Poland, Italy, Germany and of course Sweden!

Every time the product is shipped moved and loaded, it costs money. The fewer times someone moves or touches the item, the fewer costs are associated with it. IKEA saves costs with this guiding principle to minimize touches because it doesn't have to pay the customer to retrieve the furniture and take it home.

“Like many retailers, we are experiencing ongoing challenges with our supply chains due to COVID-19, Brexit and labour shortages (HGV drivers for example), with transport, raw materials and sourcing all impacted. In addition, we are seeing higher customer demand as more people are spending more time at home.

Cost-per-touch inventory tactic

The item is then ordered, shipped from the manufacturer, moved from the delivery truck into storage in the warehouse, moved from the warehouse to the customer's vehicle or delivered by the furniture retailer to the customer's home

 How does IKEA transport products?

IKEA doesn't own its own fleet, and its products are delivered via roughly about 10,000 vehicles globally that are owned or operated by delivery partners such as DHL, UPS and PostNord (Swedish and Danish postal service).

One key lesson from IKEA supply chain strategy is the importance of balancing cost and sustainability considerations. Going forward, IKEA can continue to invest in innovation and technology to optimize operations, while also exploring new ways to reduce waste and promote sustainability throughout the supply chain. Additionally, the company can continue to prioritize supplier relationship management and adaptability to maintain a strong and resilient supply chain in an ever-changing global landscape. Follow VIindoo for more useful knowledge.

Further reading:

IKEA Supply Chain: Network of Efficiency and Sustainability
Viindoo Technology Joint Stock Company, Danny Ha April 26, 2023

Supply chain KPIs: Top 10 criteria keys businesses should notice