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Ikea launches home delivery in act

IKEA has launched home delivery and online ordering for the first time in Australia, with Canberrans the first in line for the new service.

From today, customers in the ACT will be able to order online and either collect in store or receive home delivery. The click-and-collect fee is $20. Home delivery costs start from $79 and are dependent on location.

The move follows the launch of click-and-collect in Tasmania earlier this month. Ikea says it will expand the delivery service to regional locations surrounding the ACT as the service progresses.

Ikea Australia country manager David Hood expects to see a sales uplift of around 10 per cent. He said the launch in Canberra was due to it being a very controlled market where its easy for us to see exactly what happens.

Because of the volumes we deal with, we need to ensure the whole infrastructure and logistics are set up and in place, he said.

Next August we will have a brand new national distribution centre opening in northwest Sydney, which is a huge part of the creating the preconditions allowing us to take further steps.

If we can do this in Canberra then well start to look in January next year at which other markets and stores we want to progressively roll this out.

Mr Hood said there was a possibility of expanding online ordering and delivery for specific segments only, such as kitchens, not just geographical areas.

Kitchens is more than 10 per cent of our total turnover and growing very fast, he said. We feel theres an opportunity in the kitchen market to work with online solutions. Previously you had to come in and meet with someone.

Now we have an online planning tool, thats step one. Step two is being able to order online, and step three is being able to deliver.

As major retailers including Woolworths and Wesfarmers assemble war rooms to plan for the arrival next year of e-commerce giant Amazon, Mr Hood said he preferred to focus on Ikeas strengths.

No disrespect to any other retailer, he said. We know weve got a fabulous range and a very specific position in the market. Of course you look at them, but I think we should focus on what were good at, rather than sit in a dark room and worry about Amazon.

In a statement, Ikea Canberra store manager Charmaine Hick said: Were thrilled to be the first in the country to provide our customers with even more opportunities to able to purchase from Ikea.

Since we opened a year ago weve been lucky enough to welcome almost 1.5 million visitors through our door. Were hoping the introduction of our first complete online shopping service, including home delivery will help us to achieve our vision to provide a wide range of affordable, quality home furnishing products to even more of the many people of the ACT and beyond.

The company the developments were important steps for Ikea Australia, which aims to make its multichannel offer available to more Australians over the coming years.

Ikea multichannel manager Michael Donath said multichannel was not something we will roll out to all Australians at the same time.

Its about ensuring that were ready as an organisation to deliver a seamless experience for our customers wherever and whenever they choose to shop with Ikea, he said.

The ACT is an important market for us to launch our first full-service multichannel offering and we hope to take what is successful in this market into the regional areas surrounding the ACT in the coming months.

Assembling IKEA furniture can be a daunting undertaking. WSJ's Michael Hsu shows you how to power through the building process without loosing your screws. Video: Carly Marsh/WSJ, Illustration: Kiersten Essenpreis.

The little company that hit the star wars jackpot

HE’S not just the biggest star from The Force Awakens — BB-8 has rocketed one small company to a galaxy far, far away.

Christmas shoppers would no doubt have seen the toy version of the adorable soccer ball-shaped droid on shelves in every electronics store around the country. At $249, hes not cheap, but BB-8 is proving to be one of this years must-have items.

Sphero, the little-known robotics company that manufactures the toy, has seen its fortunes go into hyperdrive thanks largely to a chance encounter with Disney chief executive Bog Iger last summer.

The Boulder, Colorado-based company, which has been making ball-shaped, internet-connected toys since 2011, had entered Disneys Accelerator program, which helps small companies grow their business by tapping into the creative library of Disney properties.

Spheros two founders, Ian Bernstein and Adam Wilson, and CEO Paul Berberian, met Mr Iger on the second day of the program. The Disney boss immediately saw an opportunity.

He opens up his iPhone, and he starts showing dailies [from The Force Awakens] and watermarked photos that nobody has seen other than the people directly involved with the movie, Mr Berberian told Wired.

Iger pointed to BB-8 and asked if Sphero could make it. He said, thats the new droid, the new R2D2, and it looks a lot like what you are making, Berberian told the Financial Times. In the course of 60 seconds, you process that this could be huge. We even knew how to do the head, we already had the technology.

They acquired the license in November 2014, and in 10 months had a product ready to ship, just in time for the Force Friday toy sales event.

If you gave me a billion dollars to sell as many Spheros as possible, Id create a sci-fi movie that had a main character as a robot ball, Mr Berberian told the FT.

Bloomberg reports that when the company released the toy version of BB-8 on September 4, it sold 22,000 units in just 12 hours. Spheros September sales alone pulled in nearly 90 per cent of the companys usual annual haul.

We already were changing the way people interacted with robots, Mr Wilson told Bloomberg. This changed the way the world saw robots. It really did change everything. We could never have seen this coming like that.

The company had already sold more than half a million Sphero toys since 2011 and attracted $62 million in venture capital, but the Disney partnership has supercharged its growth. Sphero has already doubled its headcount to more than 100 since work on BB-8 began and plans to double staff again in the coming year.

It hasnt released sales figures, but Mr Berberian said sales were on track to be more than five times its original revenue targets for the year, and that in terms of overall sales value, it was selling better than any other [Star Wars] product out there.

Now that the film is out, the team can begin rolling out software updates to the toy to unlock new functions, such as holographic messages and new content for the app.

We can change the firmware, lets say we figure out a better algorithm for driving, Mr Berberian told Fortune. Or maybe in the movie theres a part where he spins his head around 20 times. I dont know. But we can add that. This is just the beginning.