The time you took to read the title, is the time IKEA takes to manufacture a unit of
Billy bookcase. Astonishing right? Yes, IKEA makes 15 Billy bookcases every
minute and sells 1 bookcase every 5 seconds. But the question here is, how?
Well, let’s kick things off with a little back-story. Billy was designed in 1979 by the Swedish designer Gillis Lundgren, the revolutionary behind flat parceling. He was the pioneer behind the idea of unassembled shipping which brought about a revolution in the interior furniture industry. One way to keep prices low is to ship the furniture in bits which yields a two-fold benefit – one, saving the cost of shipping with compact packaging and the other is saving the cost of labour for assembling the product. IKEA has been mastering this strategy to stay on top of its game.
Now let’s look at some interesting facts about Billy. The company had sold more than 41 million units by Billy’s 30th anniversary in 2019 – which, if laid in a line, would be over 70,000 kilometres long. The 43 year old design contributes to roughly 1% of IKEA’s sales even today, keeping in mind the other variety and prices of goods IKEA sells. There is approximately 1 Billy bookcase for every 100 people in the world. There are so many of these that Bloomberg now uses them to compare purchasing power across the world with it’s very own Bloomberg Billy Bookcase Index.
So yeah, it isn’t as astonishing now that we have seen what IKEA is capable of. After all, it’s all about dressing up the basics to make it feel high-end, which is the legacy that IKEA has been carrying over the years now.