Ikea’s AI assistant provides design inspiration, or at least it tries to

Trips to Ikea can easily be overwhelming if you go in without a plan. Ikea’s AI assistant in the GPT Store is made to help you: it tells you everything about its products and visualizes them in a room.

Francesco Marzoni, chief data and analytics officer at Ingka Group, the largest Ikea franchisee, said in a press release that the AI ​​assistant is part of a series of experiments the company is doing “so we can participate in the AI ​​evolution as we shape our business strategy.”

I thought an Ikea AI assistant should be a good way to make the experience less tiring; this is part of Ikea’s pitch to potential users. So I decided to give it a try. However, I discovered that the Ikea GPT was not a good partner in interior design.

I started with the question: “I need storage ideas for my small living room/bedroom.” But instead of showing me some ideas, the Ikea GPT told me to look at an article on Ikea’s US website and included a photo of a living room for good measure. I’m not sure if the image for this prompt is AI-generated, but it looks like it came straight out of an Ikea catalog. I tried again and asked for information about bathroom storage, and I was referred to the website again.

When I finally told it to give me a list of bins, the AI ​​assistant ultimately decided to give me an overview of the products and only link to the specific product pages instead of a blog post.

Then I asked what the Kallax shelf would look like in my home (for the record, I already have a Kallax that I’m making). It generated an image, presumably using the integrated DALL-E 3 image generator on GPT-4. This time the GPT informed me that an image was being generated. I asked the same question, but added more specific information: “How about a black Kallax in a mid-century modern style studio apartment.” Both photos it produced had a caption highlighting the item’s versatility with different styles and needs.

Then I asked the Ikea GPT if there was one nightstand available in the Brooklyn store. It stuck in spin wheel mode for about 10 minutes before I ended that call. In the meantime, I went to Ikea’s website and quickly found the information I needed. I asked the GPT again and they finally gave me the answer that the bedside table was not available for collection at the location. The website told me a different story, but if you’ve ever dealt with Ikea’s ever-changing inventory information, this type of miscommunication is annoyingly familiar.

Ultimately, I found it was easier to just search the Ikea website for ideas; the company gives customers plenty of design inspiration on the site. Furthermore, Ikea’s GPT kept instructing me to click on links to the site anyway, defeating the purpose of having an AI assistant at my fingertips.

I do see a potential problem that the Ikea GPT can solve. Ikea stores become overwhelming very quickly. If you have ChatGPT Plus on your phone, I can imagine asking the GPT questions about every item you come across on the Ikea Marketplace, eliminating the need to find staff who are always busy helping other customers.

Ikea is no stranger to technology. The home retail giant has offered a ton of smart home products in recent years. It also debuted a virtual home design feature in its app called Ikea Kreativ in 2022. And while I’m on the record saying that I personally can’t find a good use for many GPTs, I wanted to be proven wrong. But the Ikea GPT is not it. I’ll stick with the catalogs, thanks.

The Ikea AI Assistant is currently available to ChatGPT Plus users in the United States, but Ingka Group plans to expand access to more regions soon. The edge has contacted the Ingka Group for more information about the GPT.

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