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Your Complete Guide to Shopping at IKEA

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IKEA Design Space App

Love IKEA?

Did you know that IKEA has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since at least 2008? Not only do they have an impressive price protection policy, but they offer a variety of ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances, home accessories, and other useful goods and home services that are pretty amazing. 😍

Get ready for the best shopping trip you’ve ever had with these helpful IKEA tips!

Before you go…

1. Request a copy of the IKEA catalog.

IKEA catalog

Be in the know about the latest product offerings from IKEA by subscribing to the IKEA catalog. You can download the digital version, but the print copy makes for a lovely coffee table book!


2. Know the best times to shop (and return).

IKEA crowded parking lot

Like most retail stores, weekday mornings are the best time to shop since you’ll come across less traffic in the store. If possible, you may want to avoid shopping during July and August, especially on weekends, as students and recent grads are buying furnishings for their dorm rooms or new homes.

As far as returns, you’ll want to do those first thing in the morning as it’s a take-a-number-and-wait system.


3. Sign up for IKEA’s moving program.

IKEA Moving

Not only will you receive a coupon for $25 off of a $250 purchase, but their moving guide is full of helpful lists, calendar alerts, and organization ideas to help make your move a breeze!


4. Download the IKEA Place app.

IKEA shopping app

This incredible augmented reality app, available on the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store, lets you view IKEA furniture in your house before you buy! Simply browse through the collection and place in your room. You can even snap photos of non-IKEA items you like and the app will search for similar ones they offer!


5. Make your shopping list online.

IKEA bowls

Why is a shopping list probably the greatest feature on IKEA’s website? Here’s why!

  • You can add by item number, meaning you can browse the catalog and make a list of your desired items without having to navigate to their product page on the website.
  • You can see the stock levels of inventory, along with when unavailable items might be shipped in.
  • When printing, you can sort your list by time added, weight, or location to make picking them up in the marketplace so simple.
  • You can email it to someone, making wish lists and gift-giving easier than ever!

6. Check store stock before you go.

IKEA stock

It’s one thing for a website to show whether or not an item is in stock, but IKEA’s Stock Prognosis shows the stock amount and the likelihood of it still being in stock when you arrive. You can check this on an item’s product page by selecting your desired store and clicking “view stock prognosis” underneath. It’s also visible on your online shopping list as well!


7. Take advantage of planning tools and buying guides.

IKEA room planning

The virtual design tools are as functional as they are fun! You can arrange furniture pieces to make sure they fit in your space and start crafting your order. The buying guides are also worth checking out for inspiration, coordinating pieces, and accessories.

Keep in mind that if you’re looking to take on a semi-custom kitchen project, you’ll need to design the space first before purchasing the cabinet pieces.


8. Don’t rely on your phone for service.

cell phone at IKEA

Just looking at an IKEA building will give you the sense that it’s built like a fortress. Your cell signal may likely be weaker (or even non-existent). Make sure you download anything, like online lists, images, or other helpful shopping resources before you go.


9. Bring the size dimensions of your room and car.

Measure room at IKEA

While you probably have the ability to measure your space instantaneously when shopping online, you’ll have a little more trouble when you find something unexpected in store. Having the room sizes (and car door dimensions) gives you peace of mind that it will fit right in, whether it’s in your house (or in your car).


10. Bring your own bag if you don’t feel like buying theirs.

blue bag at IKEA

Most people are familiar with the massive bright blue bags from IKEA because their size and durability (and super cheap price point) make them a must-have. It’s also because your only two bagging options are buying theirs or bringing your own. If you want to save yourself a couple bucks, bring your favorite reusable bag with you.

When you arrive…

11. Get an IKEA FAMILY card for discounts (it’s FREE!)

IKEA FAMILY

Look for the orange kiosk and grab an IKEA FAMILY card right when you get to the store (or you can also sign up online beforehand). Why? It’s FREE and the benefits include:

  • Free coffee or tea when you visit the restaurant (not eligible for to-go cups).
  • An extra 30 minutes for kids at Småland (since every customer already gets 60 minutes for free, that makes for 1.5 hours of FREE babysitting for IKEA Family members!).
  • Exclusive discounts on certain items.
  • BOGO free frozen yogurt when you pick up your card for the first time at an in-store kiosk.
  • 90-day price protection so if your purchase drops in price within 90 days, you’ll have the difference refunded.
  • A FREE Swedish Meatball birthday meal with cake and $15 off in-store purchase coupon to redeem during your birthday month — SWEET!

12. Pick up free shopping tools.

free shopping tools at IKEA

  • Store map — IKEA can be a bit overwhelming, but with the store map in your hands, you can navigate to the areas you need to check out and see where the shortcuts are.
  • Tape measure — Measure on the fly so you can be sure the furniture will fit in your home (and your car!)
  • Notepad with a pencil — You’ll want this to write down product information so you can find it later in the marketplace.

13. Consider entering through the exit door to save time.

IKEA exit

If you’re not familiar with the layout of IKEA, there’s the showroom and the marketplace. While the store is laid out so that you browse through the showroom first before you get to the marketplace (aka the area where you actually pick up items to purchase), this can eat up a lot of your time, especially if you’re on a time constraint or already have a shopping list.

By entering through the exit, you’ll start closer to the marketplace to maximize your time. Keep in mind that if you need a tape measure and store map, those items are more commonly found at the actual store entrance.


14. Have a bite to eat at the restaurant.

IKEA restaurant

In addition to the store’s showroom and marketplace, there’s also a restaurant (home to the infamous Swedish meatballs) along with the bistro which is located near the cash registers. You’re likely in for an hour or two of shopping, so it would be wise to get some food in first.


15. Take advantage of Småland if you have children.

IKEA Smaland for kids

Just in case you skimmed over the IKEA FAMILY member benefits section, IKEA has their own daycare center where all guests are entitled to the first hour of child supervision for FREE! Even sweeter, you get an extra thirty minutes for free if you’re an IKEA family member.

While you shop…

16. Snap pictures of the price tag.

IKEA price tag

This actually has nothing to do with the price and everything to do with the vital information about the product’s location in the marketplace, which is printed on the red portion. Either jot the info down on your notepad or just take a picture with your phone to recall the details later.


17. Look for limited collection pieces.

IKEA furniture

Do you love IKEA? I bet your friends do, too, which is why you’ll want to look for special limited collection products so you don’t all end up with the same home furnishings! Luckily enough, they collaborate with exciting companies and designers to create fun and fresh home goods. Most are only available in store, but you can check out the product galleries here.


18. Buy wedding or party decorations.

IKEA tealight holders

If you or someone you know is getting married or hosting a big event, IKEA is the cheapest place to find things like vases, candles, picture frames, and tons of other inexpensive decorating pieces. You can also create your gift registry there!


19. Search for yellow “Last Chance” labels.

Last Chance labels at IKEA

If you love it, get it now! In order to continually introduce new and improved products, IKEA needs to make space on the shelf, thus discontinuing certain items. If you see one of these yellow “last chance” labels, know that it’s not going to stay in stock much longer.


20. Browse through the garden section.

garden-section-IKEA

Yes, you read that right. IKEA even has a garden section! Peruse for inexpensive greenery, which all include gardening tips and instructions.


21. Shop the As-Is section.

IKEA wall signs

This section starts at 15% off retail and is usually made up of customer returns, so you’ll find the best selection on Mondays from the returns that came in over the weekend. However, if you hold out until Wednesday, you’ll get an additional 10% off!


22. Consider the flat rate delivery options.

IKEA delivery service

Let’s say some items just won’t fit in your vehicle, or you just don’t feel like lugging it all home, or you decide you don’t even feel like shopping once you actually get to the store — no worries! IKEA has different delivery options like home delivery or picking with delivery to help make sure you get what you want without lifting a finger.

When you get home…

23. Call IKEA if you’re missing a part.

person on phone making call

You get home from IKEA and you start assembling your new stuff, only to realize that something is missing — darn! Instead of driving back to the store, figure out the missing part number (it’s listed in the assembly instructions) and call your local store to ask for replacements. They’ll mail you the pieces so you don’t have to make a second trip!


24. Make your furniture last longer with wood glue.

gorilla-wood-glue

We love IKEA, but some of the products aren’t meant to last forever. Extend the durability and lifespan of your favorite furnishings by applying wood glue to seams while assembling! It will add strength and stop that slightly wobbly effect, though it will make disassembly much harder.

Other things to know…

IKEA kitchen sale

Score up to 20% off during the kitchen sale.
  • This happens 3-4 times a year, but considering the 90-day price protection you get with IKEA family, you’re almost guaranteed to get the best price on cabinets, small appliances, and all your other kitchen purchases. So if you make a purchase outside of the sale window, make sure to keep your receipt so you can get the refund credit when the next sale rolls around.
Shop with a Raise.com gift card to save up to 10% (or more).
  • Raise.com usually offers both online and in-store IKEA gift cards in their marketplace. Before you head into IKEA, calculate your spend from your shopping list and buy the number of gift cards needed to cover slightly less than the amount of your order with tax (that way you’re not stuck with an unspent gift card). Pay attention because egift cards are typically for online purchases only, while physical cards and vouchers may be accepted both online and in-store.
Check out IKEA on Amazon for free or low-cost shipping on tons of items.
  • You can buy some of your favorite IKEA items on Amazon! Yes, it’s convenient and most are available with free shipping. That said, only purchase if the overall price is cheaper than purchasing with shipping from IKEA’s website since Amazon sellers tend to inflate their prices.
Plan only one room at a time.
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your renovation project won’t be either. As stated by many DIYers, plan your trips with only one room in mind. This helps you stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed by the vast product offerings around you. And hey, it means another free coffee on the next trip!  ☕️

ikea home

Hip Tip: Search IKEA hacks on Pinterest for some ridiculously cool ways to repurpose IKEA furniture!


Join The Discussion

Comments 5

  1. je

    I always enter through the exit, especially when I know where I need to go. Such a time saver. You can also use their computers in the marketplace to find locations of items you need instead of walking through the whole store. And know the shortcuts in the store! They’re a lifesaver; not only will it save you time, but it will also save your wallets because you don’t see all the other stuff that you “need.” 🙂

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Love that, Je! Thanks for sharing your tips with us! We love hearing what makes your shopping trip a success!

    • Stacy F (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Great tips, je!

  2. Jen Goodman

    Don’t rely on the in stock levels though. They’re only updated in the morning so if you are going for a specific item, call first.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Such a good tip! Thanks so much for the helpful warning, Jen!

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