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Ikea aims to have its employees understand, leverage and innovate with artificial intelligence.

Ikea plans to train 3,500 of its employees on artificial intelligence (AI) literacy, the European furniture giant announced in April.

The retailer says it wants to invest in both AI and its employees. By doing so, it hopes to ensure that its workforce can use and innovate with the technology. Ikea wants to, “embed a deep understanding of AI across the organization, ensuring that Ikea values are reflected in the way the technology is utilized,” according to the press release.

Ikea is No. 7 in the Europe Database, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of the largest online retailers in the region.

Why Ikea is training employees to use AI

“This effort is a testament to the Ikea belief in the power of its people to harness technology for greater creativity, efficiency, and results,” said Parag Parekh, Ikea Retail’s chief digital officer in the press release.

This is a smart investment for Ikea, says Brendan Witcher, vice president and principal analyst at research firm Forrester Research.


“It is a tangible example of Ikea’s commitment to employee care, and it improves their pool of talent with skills relating to what will likely be a major part of digital and retail strategies going forward,” Witcher says.

Ikea plans to offer several courses to employees based on their role within in the company, such as AI Fundamentals for its 3,000-employee workforce. For its 500 leaders, Ikea plans to offer AI Exploration Days, which will link AI’s potential with Ikea’s business priorities. Ikea did not share how it will provide the training, and it did not respond to a request for commentary.

Offering courses like this will give Ikea an edge in hiring employees, Witcher says.

“It is always difficult to assess the expected future return on investment of investing in employees today — aside from the assumed direct benefit of employee retention,” Witcher says. “These kinds of things also create an assumed talent acquisition advantage over other retailers that are offering little more than a paycheck in exchange for work.”


How Ikea is using AI

This isn’t Ikea’s first foray into using generative artificial intelligence. The brand says it recently launched a generative AI tool with Microsoft called The Hej Copilot. The tool is designed to help employees with tasks such as image creation, generating ideas and crafting presentations.

“Hej Copilot is a prime example of augmenting human capabilities and allowing coworkers to focus on higher-value tasks,” according to the press release.

In addition, Ikea launched a generative AI shopping tool in February, through the OpenAI GPT store. The tool is meant to help shoppers by answering questions about Ikea’s catalog and product availability across stores.


Generative AI is gaining lots of investment and traction within the retail industry. 81% of retailers said they have a dedicated AI budget, according to a March 2023 survey of 1,390 global retailers conducted by Salesforce and the Retail AI Council.

What’s more 93% of surveyed retailers said they’re already using generative AI in some capacity for personalization. That includes creating personalized email copy and product recommendations.

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