Ikea, the world’s largest furniture retailer, is finalising details on its first test of selling on third-party e-commerce sites, such as Amazon or China’s Alibaba, as part of a wider transformation plan.

If the Swedish company goes ahead with the plan, then it would mean that, for the first time, it would sell products from competitors in addition to its own.

Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of parent company Inter Ikea, which controls the retailer’s brand and concept, outlined the concept to the Financial Times and explained that there had to be something between Ikea’s official website and sites like Alibaba and Amazon that sell a huge range of goods.

“What are the opportunities between the dominating, big, global platforms, and the company website? I think there are tons of opportunities,” he said.

“Like Zalando, they’re a kind of platform for fashion and clothes. I think it’s a very interesting area to explore,” he added, while referring to the German online fashion retailer that has fended off competition from the likes of Amazon by partnering with hundreds of clothing brands, who sell on the Zalando site.

He made clear that Ikea was not yet in talks with any of its competitors, but said the company would like to get involved in the creation of any industry-wide sales platform.

Loof said that Amazon and Alibaba have different models, but added: “We wanted to see and test and learn – to say: could this be something for us? For a specific part of the range or in specific types of markets?”

Ikea’s willingness to explore the potential of a third-party online platform comes as the company undergoes some of the biggest changes to its business since it was founded in 1943, the Financial Times reported.

These include the concept of leasing furniture and selling it on other websites to offering customers the option of home assembly of its flat-packs.

“We are always exploring. You could say within the digital arena we’re exploring the third-party platform, Ikea engaging on other platforms, the platform business in the industry as a whole, how can we make our own ikea.com much stronger and better,” said Loof.

“It is also about how you connect. If you take home furnishings, for instance – how you connect communities, how you connect knowledge, how you connect the home.”

Sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff