x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

A clickable couch

Ikea's announcement that it's getting ready to move into online retailing - where you "shop" via their website and they deliver - is good news, especially for those who find it difficult to get to Yas Island. But we doubt they'll be able deliver you a plate of those tasty Swedish meatballs.

Next year, home furnishing will be one click away. Ikea is set to launch an online service to allow UAE customers to buy furniture and schedule delivery of the purchases. From the couch, consumers will be able to, well, buy a couch.

"It's something we have been chasing for ages," says Mile Franicevic, the general manager for UAE Ikea.

We're glad they finally caught up. The French supermarket chain Carrefour was the first to sell nonperishable products online locally, followed by Lulu supermarkets.

Zeid Kaddoura, a director of the online marketing company Webology says there has been a surge of interest from companies this year to develop similar retail websites.

By sometime next year, Ikea should be making online house calls. Customers in the Emirates will be able to fill a virtual shopping basket, pay online and wait for delivery day.

Yet we don't expect the whole process to go off without a hitch. To use Mr Franicevic's terminology, consumers might still have to "chase" packages after buying them, especially in a nation with a stubbornly evasive address system and no standardised postal codes.

Over time the kinks will be worked out. Until then, might we suggest visiting the store if you plan on buying those tasty Swedish meatballs.