With more than 200 million copies printed each year, the IKEA Catalogue Supply Chain Dashboards helps to address the sustainability of the world's largest annual print run. IKEA Media Production has worked diligently to improve the catalog’s performance but engaged Except to find even better ways to boost performance. Together with implementation partners Trade Extensions and Deloitte, we created new visual big data and systemic tools in under 12 months. In effect, by enhancing the sustainability focus from IKEA's end, we helped transform the sustainability of the biggest paper and print suppliers worldwide.


Performance Boost

As a result of the collaborative process, the total CO2 emissions per copy dropped to 28% between FY14 and FY16. Energy consumption per copy went down 5% in that same period, the use of renewable energy increased by 30%, while and water consumption diminished by 35%. This last figure was achieved in the last year alone, all by sourcing and selecting suppliers with lower environmental footprints.

Systemic Approach

The team applied our unique systems thinking approach with Symbiosis in Development (SiD) to initiate the right interventions and bring about these amazing results. This unique framework is designed to work within complex multi-stakeholder environments and take innovative steps toward systemic improvements.

In one particular co-creation session, IKEA and Except searched for a game-changer. We performed a systemic analysis of the catalog’s production and decision-making process and brought key bottlenecks to light. To simplify the results, we discovered the supply chain data behind the IKEA catalogue, although high in quality, was overwhelming and too much for the catalog’s managers to process.
In less than eight months - much sooner than expected - IKEA, Except, Deloitte, and Trade Extensions produced a set of tools that help support decision-makers at IKEA. This allowed them to switch to more responsible suppliers, and enable its paper and print suppliers to transition to more sustainable processes and products.

IKEA's New Buyer Dashboard

The interface has a visual indicator, allowing instant oversight, and gives purchasing managers great control over how they view and mentally process the data.

For instance, the dashboard allows them to rate and rank any subset of suppliers against any set of KPIs. The tool transforms any unmanageable big data into easily digested information, offering a better insight into the supply chain and enabling better purchasing decisions.

With this relatively small intervention and investment, one of the largest bottlenecks in IKEA's decision-making was removed and significantly boosted the catalog’s sustainability performance.

Taming Big Data

The process did not consist of only making these tools. As part of the effort, all data in the IKEA supplier database was validated and restructured.

The Buyer Dashboard lays a humanized interface over the vast database describing the supply chain behind the IKEA catalog and provides 18 KPI's summarizing 100 sustainability/quality metrics for almost 130 suppliers worldwide.


Supplier Engagement for Greater Sustainability

The tools developed include elements that focus on working beyond IKEA's management team and engaging suppliers in the improvement process. The program also offers suppliers visual feedback on their performance on the IKEA quality and sustainability metrics. They can now see how they compare against (anonymous) competitors and how they relate to IKEA's sustainability KPI's.

The program also shares best practices with suppliers, helping them to continue to learn and improve much faster. Additionally, it includes a game-based incentive system that recognizes suppliers for top performance or quick improvements and offers reward badges so others can see your success.

This draws the attention of IKEA's purchasers and helps them to recognize and prioritize suppliers with the best sustainability results, meaning, that the best performers are likely to do more business.

Results & Feedback

IKEA Media Production reports that the Buyer Dashboard helps select more sustainable suppliers with greater ease, accuracy, and certainty. Staff using the new Purchaser Dashboard commented on how they like:

  • The ease of access to the data and using it to discuss details with suppliers.
  • They now have discussions based on facts and that suppliers receive feedback on where they are compared to global standards and others in the IKEA supply chain.
  • That suppliers can use it to make a case for investment with their management or board.
  • These dashboards strengthen the interactive, collaborative dynamic with all of our stakeholders, from suppliers to the general public. As a big player, IKEA has the leverage to drive a transition toward greater sustainability in our own paper and print supply chain. This project helped us push sustainability up on the agenda of our suppliers and make it an integral part of our negotiations, away from just discussions between sustainability specialists. That is where the magic happens, and it's far beyond what we originally expected or imagined.

    Matthieu Leroy, Sustainability Specialist at IKEA Media Production

Toward a Global Impact

As a successful project, the shared framework, language, and ambitions effectively built and set a benchmark for a sustainability-driven learning supply chain across the entire industry.

As IKEA and its suppliers continue to learn, these savings are expected to grow even further. Given the significant volume of the IKEA catalog’s 200-million-copies, this transformation will continue to trigger more sustainable innovation and thought across the globe's paper and print industries.

The IKEA Story of Print

In a related project, Except cooperated again with IKEA Media Production to showcase the sustainability achievements and ambitions of its 200-million-copy catalog. We created two engaging communication tools to help enhance sustainability:

  • A storytelling infographic for the IKEA customer-facing staff and
  • A data-packed dashboard for critical stakeholders.

Follow the link to learn more about the Ikea Catalogue and the Story of Print.

Tim Horsten
by Tim Horsten
CSR Consultant / Engineer

May 8, 2017

Client & Partners

Project team

  • Tom Bosschaert


  • Tim Horsten

    CSR Consultant / Engineer

  • Ashley Myers

    Sustainability Specialist
    Inter IKEA Systems

  • Betty van Dongen

    Back-end Software Developer

  • Brian Baldassarre

    Designer & Researcher
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Carmen Vercauteren

    Industrial Ecologist
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Friso Emans

    Back-end Software Developer

  • Jacco Beije

    Systems Engineering
    Redproc IT Systems

  • Joao Carmona

    Front-end Software Developer
    De Voorhoede

  • Jos de Witte

    Front-end Software Developer

  • Matthieu Leroy

    Project Manager
    Inter IKEA Systems

  • Marcin Kaszinski

    Back-end Software Developer

  • Max Senden

    Graphic Designer & Creative Problem Solver
    Except Integrated Sustainability

  • Merel Segers

    Industrial Ecologist & Sustainable Storyteller
    Merel Segers Sustainability Analysis & Communication

  • Tijn Schmits

    Software Architect & Developer

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