Ikea is a global company, but its newest store in Hyderabad, India, almost feels local. Earlier this month, the company opened its first ever store in India, and while it has many of the traits of a typical Ikea store—the sprawling layout, cafe, Hemnes bed—it also has a distinctly local flavor.
Take its new delivery vehicles. At least 20 percent of the Hyderabad store’s delivery fleet will be electric rickshaws. The compact, three-wheeled vehicles are used widely throughout India to navigate the notoriously dense traffic found in large cities. Ikea’s version will be charged at the store, running off of solar power harvested from some 4,000 panels atop the building roof. Any excess energy gathered will be used for lighting and other uses inside the store.
The solar rickshaws are part of Ikea’s broader goal of creating culturally-relevant shopping experiences. The New York Times reports that Ikea’s Indian employees visited more than 1,000 homes to better understand their new customers. They observed how families tend to host impromptu gatherings, which led the designers to create more folding chair options, for example.
Likewise, they created lower cabinets and countertops to account for the fact that on average, Indian women tend to be shorter than Europeans and Americans. Tweaking the design details of products and in-store experiences to feel more culturally relevant seems like an especially thoughtful touch for a company that sells products all over the world, but it’s also just a smart way to do business.