17 Insider Things to Know About IKEA (from Employees Who’ve Worked There)

updated May 3, 2019
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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work at IKEA? With stores that resemble mazes and tons of products everywhere you turn, it’s sure to be just as much of an experience working there as it is shopping there. And of course, those who do work there just may be able to give us IKEA civilians a little helpful shopping advice. Luckily, there are several Reddit AMA threads where IKEA employees answered some burning questions, so we’ve rounded up the most useful (or intriguingly offbeat) info from them.

It’s important to note that some of the Reddit threads these are culled from are a few years old, so some of the information might not still be 100% accurate or actionable now—be sure to double check online or with your IKEA store.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering how much of a discount employees get, all of the employees in these Reddit threads explained that it’s 15 percent).

You can get major discounts on past showroom items.

“[You can’t get them] for free, but those products will make their way down to the as-is area when the room settings, as they are called, are due for a makeover (timeline decided by service offices) and they will be discounted for 30-80 percent off.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

You can negotiate prices on as-is items.

“Manager or not, only employees of the AsIs department can give you further discounts. And yes, if you see something you would like, just approach someone at the window and ask them to lower the price, in most cases they will be able to do that.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

To get the best as-is deals, go at certain times of the year.

“During and right after both summer and winter sale, as well as the weeks around April 1st and August 1st.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

IKEA definitely has loss leaders.

“We do make most of our profit on smaller metal parts that are needed for larger combinations. Although a lot of it is off set by losses in other products. Believe or not we have entire product lines where the profit margin is between -20% and -60%, yes, we do lose money on sales.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

There’s a reason the kitchen splashbacks are more expensive.

“[The kitchen splashbacks] are the only products in the entire store that are custom made by a third party factory, everything else is mass produced so the price difference can be quite big.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

They don’t actually make money on food.

“We do not make any money on the meatballs, or any food at all for that matter. In fact the entire restaurant is a huge write off.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

Some stores get to try out new products first.

“There are certain test stores in each region, Stockholm and Helsingborg in Sweden, one or two in Germany, Delft in the Netherlands, Burbank, CA and one in Asia as well.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

They take cleaning—especially the play area—very seriously.

“The entire store is cleaned overnight, every night. The same goes for the kids play area. If no accident in particular happened, we disinfect the ball pit once a week and wash all balls, etc. It has happened on numerous occasions that kids puked, pooped or peed in the ball pit. That is a just cause for an emergency biohazard evacuation and immediate cleaning. We take the cleanliness of the play area very seriously!” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You might find foreign language books in stores.

“They actually ship [the books] to us from Sweden, and we get them free from the publisher. If you pay attention, sometimes books in Norwegian will sneak their way in.” — throwawayIKEAthrowaway

You might be able to get replacements for old products.

“If you know the name of it then you can either call the call center (phone on the IKEA website) or go in-store and IKEA employees can pull up the assembly instructions. If it’s a part we can order then of course! It ships from Sweden and usually takes about 5-10 business days to get to you.” — hodydody

Shipping is different depending on how you order.

“Ordering online is different from ordering in store. When you’re actually in the store, you grab all your items and it comes from the store you’re in. Online it comes from a warehouse (usually Tahoe) so shipping is more expensive because of shipping and handling. Also IKEA doesn’t ship lights or lamps in fear they might get damaged.” — hodydody

The walls are movable in case of emergencies.

“Except the exterior walls, all of the walls of the sales floor (affectionately, “the maze”) are modular and movable, and every department has an emergency exit slot since every department at one point or another touches an exterior wall. We’re all trained that as soon as we get the fire alert, to open the walls and call out to customers where the exits are, as well as the overhead signs by federal law that say we need to mark where emergency exits are.” — NickNac113

There are shortcuts to getting through the maze.

“There actually are shortcuts the to get through the store faster but in some stores, it changes month to month. If you see a blue 3′ x 3′ rectangle in a random place, it’s most likely a cut-through to the next department. All depends on where you are and what store you’re in.” — NickNac113

(Image credit: Tommy Alven)

Carpeting is the key to easier assembly.

“One big trick though is to build it on carpet. It shows that in the directions but in all honesty it helps. All of our powered build tables have carpeting stapled to them.” — NickNac113

Lunch for employees is super cheap.

“I hardly ever bring in lunch. We have a co-worker discount on food in the restaurant and bistro. $3 for an entree under $5.99, a side, bread choice, and drink with 1 refill included. $4 for entrees over $5.99.” — thaiangel9008

Loofahs are the one thing you shouldn’t buy from IKEA.

“Loofahs!! (The bath sponges). Don’t do it! Worst ever!!” — thaiangel9008

You can return just about everything but bedding.

“…IKEA is pretty lax on their return policy as it is. The only the thing that they absolutely do not take back is bedding. None whatsoever.” — thaiangel9008

*Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.