Ikea Solar excap Customer Journey

Learn from the competitors

IKEA Solar Panels

A better everyday life for as many people as possible:  that's what Ikea has been trying to achieve for almost eighty years. More than ever, our life at home is also sustainable. Since 2018, Ikea has been selling renewable energy in the form of solar panels. Excap has been asked to analyse the existing buyer journey.

Energy is a brain teaser for many people. For many, the bill keeps rising, the energy bills that arrive in the postbox or the mailbox are complex and lack transparency, and monopolies play into households' hands. And yet we cannot live without it: everyone wants light when they flick the switch.

"So we thought: how can we organise ourselves so that we bring renewable energy within reach of as many people as possible?" says Wouter Fonteyne, Commercial Leader Solar & Energy Services at Ikea. At first glance, solar panels seem far away from our core range : furniture. But both activities share the same core identity: life at home, Ikea's mission.

So the company didn't just smell a commercial opportunity, selling solar panels is in line with its core business. "And it also gave us the opportunity, especially in these times, to do the right thing", by drawing the card of renewable energy. Ikea not only wants to become climate neutral itself, it also wants to help its customers to reduce their ecological footprint.

But why should consumers trust Ikea when it comes to solar panels? The company worked out a formula with business partners. "Ikea never intended to make solar panels itself. This market is constantly changing, it's hard to stay up to date." In the eleven countries where it currently offers solar panels, Ikea will work with a business partner that enjoys trust in that market and offers a turnkey solution.

Ikea has kept the customer journey for its solar panels as simple and affordable as possible. "We want to make sure that the moment the customer wants to buy he or she also has the opportunity to do so." So the steps are simple: enquiry via the website, a check via Google Maps integration of the orientation of the roof, an appointment with a technician to evaluate whether the solar panels can actually be put on the roof, a price offer, and contact for a follow-up, with or without installation.

But where does Ikea stand in this market? The company asked excap to take a look at the customer journey in the different markets. "The solar panel market segment is very fragmented," says Wouter. "You have a number of large suppliers or utility companies, but you also have many smaller installers and some random 'man in the van' installing solar panels. We wanted to know what the customer journey is like with our competitors and how it differs from the one we had put together with our business partners."

Mystery shoppers from excap tried to buy solar panels from Ikea and from a competitor. Did they find their way around the website quickly? Did they find the information they needed? Was their initial enquiry quickly responded? Were they followed up on?  Why they did not make an appointment after the price offer to actually install the solar panels? Were appointments kept correctly?


Comparing markets in different countries is not easy: the culture, the business climate, the laws and regulations, everything is different. "But what we do know after such a benchmark is where our customer stands, so that we can develop a customer journey that the customer feels good about and has confidence in, where we can also support them, because there is sometimes a lot of administration involved."

Ikea was therefore particularly keen to learn from customer journeys of other players in the market. This was mapped out by excap using relevant metrics. "If a competitor with a large market share has a certain customer journey, that means it's catching on and people are familiar with it. Then we can see where we can do copy/paste and adapt." Conversely, if a competitor with a customer journey that matches ours has a low market share, Ikea knows it's time to adapt. "The journey with excap helps us see where we position ourselves for our own customer journey, what we can improve and what we can learn from our competitors."

The most important lesson? Not wanting to communicate too much either. "We should make more use of our own strengths, leave the communication of technical aspects to our business partners, while we should focus more on the emotional connection with solar energy and link to our core business, life at home."

Excap's data showed that Ikea Belgium had a good customer journey, although the mystery shoppers also exposed pain points here. After the first contact, there was a dip in communication with the customer and there was too much time in between, with the risk that the customer would look elsewhere for solar panels.

With the in-depth results - including management reports that also provide ideas for improvements - Ikea got a detailed picture of how they are doing in the countries where they already operate. As of 2020, Ikea wanted to offer solar panels in 30 countries with a customer journey tailored to each specific market.

"Excap's greatest asset is their customer-oriented approach. They have a transparent way of working. If a certain question is not going to work, they say so and explain why, based on their experience and expertise. You always get a clear answer. It is important that the expectations are clear. At one point, for the more recent countries, there was some confusion between customer journey and competitor monitoring, while these are very different things. But overall, I was very satisfied, also about the tools such as the dashboard and the management reports with tips and ideas. They are simple tools, you don't need to be an engineer to read or understand them. Clear, simple and straight to the point."

Wouter Fonteyne, Commercial Leader Solar & Energy Services van Ikea Services AB


  • What types of Mystery Guest Researches are there?

    There is a very wide range of researches. We can best classify them into three broad categories: for customers, for employees and for others. The latter is more about quality audits, candidate experience and discrimination surveys. > All surveys > Read more

  • Is Mystery Guest Research also used for online journeys?

    Absolutely. An online customer shops differently compared to a customer in a physical shop. Online Mystery Shopping exposes the bottlenecks in your webshop, so that you can improve the online experience. The entire buyer journey is measured, up to and including the return of the purchase.

  • How do Customer Journeys and Mystery Guest Research go together?

    In a Mystery Guest Research, we go through all the steps of the Customer Journey. At each step we measure how this step contributes to an excellent Customer Experience. Unique to our method is the ExperienceCapture in which conscious and subconscious emotions are recorded for each step.

  • What criteria determine the cost of a good Mystery Guest Research?

    Each research consists of Project Management, Briefing, Execution & Reporting. The cost for execution is the biggest part. This cost is influenced by the number of measurements to be performed, the complexity and length of the assignment and the profile of the Mystery Shopper. > More information

  • What is the impact of Mystery Guest Research on CX and EX?

    Thanks to the innovative reporting tools and the frequency of the measurements, you gain insight into the results in order to subsequently formulate action-oriented conclusions. Your impact will be: higher customer and employee satisfaction and higher turnover.

  • Can I monitor the results during the Mystery Guest Research?

    The results are brought together in a visual and user-friendly dashboard. The results and progress can therefore be followed live. You can consult the dashboard on desktop, tablet or mobile and that you can export the reports. Read more >

  • How do I get the right insights from the many data and data sources?

    Many companies collect more and more data from their customers. This concerns data from their own systems as well as data from external (research) partners. Excap can help to connect these different data sources so that overarching insights arise to realise a final impact.

  • What practical examples are there?

    Every week we publish new insights on Customer Experience and Employee Experience. We find it important to share our own expertise with our network. Or we let excap's ambassadors have their say: satisfied customers with whom we made a real impact.

  • Does excap Mystery Guest Research also take place outside the Benelux?

    Definitely! Thanks to our extensive network of partners and years of experience with international projects, we carry out Mystery Guest Research all over Europe (and beyond) and also Audits, Customer Journey Research, Consultancy and Qualitative Research. > To find out more

  • How can I research the Employee Experience?

    Employee Experience is measured within different groups of employees, investigating different departments. Such a survey > research usually takes place once per quarter, but ideally every fortnight. In this way, progress and policy can be monitored and adjusted immediately.

  • Why is the feedback from mystery shoppers reliable?

    Our mystery shoppers receive an extensive briefing before the start of their assignment so that they are always well prepared. The number of assignments per mystery shopper is limited in order to guarantee quality. On top, there's an internal control before the delivery of the final results.

  • Who are the mystery shoppers from excap and how big is our database?

    Our database of over 5000 mystery shoppers consists of very different people. From young to old, from make-up lovers and handymen to teachers and engineers. Our mystery shoppers are carefully selected by our recruitment team. Read more >

  • Can I ask an additional question?

    Of course. Ask your question by using the contact form and you will receive an answer as soon as possible. > Contact us