IKEA delivers by boat in Paris

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by Emily Atkins

IKEA has launched a new delivery service in Paris that uses boats and electric vehicles to get parcels to customers’ doorsteps.

Orders are prepared at a distribution centre in the harbour of Gennevilliers, which is about nine kilometres by road from the core of Paris, and then transported in containers by boat on the Seine River to the harbour of Bercy (Paris XII). They are then loaded onto electric vehicles for the last kilometre to reach their recipients.

The new system uses specially designed containers from Box2Home, a subsidiary of Warning+. Eventually, 455 orders per day on average, or 35 of the containers, will be transported via the Seine river.

IKEA uses specially designed intermodal containers to move the orders from its DC to the electric trucks via barge.

IKEA says the project will help it reduce the environmental footprint of its operations. River freight emits up to five times less CO2 than road freight per ton transported.

In this case truck travel between the Gennevilliers distribution centre and Paris will be reduced by  approximately 300,000 kilometers per year. Finally, IKEA will deliver all its Parisian customers by electric vehicle for the last kilometre.

The multimodal innovation is the result of a long-standing partnership between HAROPA Port and IKEA France. In 2019 IKEA built its customer distribution centre in a warehouse in the harbour of Gennevilliers.  In 2021 the concept was expanded with the decision to build a second warehouse in the harbour of Limay-Procheville.

The Port of Gennevilliers on the Seine River.

“With 20 million tons loaded annually at our harbours in Île-de-France, nearly 1 million heavy truck journeys are avoided every year while improving the reliability of deliveries,” says Antoine Berbain, chief operating officer at HAROPA Port Paris.

Delivering via the Seine river allows IKEA to avoid urban congestion when entering Paris and thus secure the delivery time. The entire IKEA range can be delivered using this solution. This service should eventually allow IKEA to offer more daily home delivery slots with a reduced time range.

In the future, river transport will be used to connect the IKEA Customer Distribution Center to the harbour of Limay, which will open in 2026.

“We are proud to innovate with our partners to launch the delivery of our Parisian customers via the Seine river. IKEA France is a pioneer in this area, it is a world first for the IKEA Group. With this innovation, which uses Box2Home’s swap bodies, we are taking an important step to support the growth of home deliveries while reducing the environmental impact of our operations,” said Emma Recco, country business development manager at IKEA France.

The Île-de-France region supports this project financially, as part of its Stratégie régionale pour le fret et la logistique (Regional Strategy for Freight and Logistics), through its contribution to the Plan d’aide au report modal de Voies navigables de France (Aid scheme for modal shift of navigable waterways of France) and through the support for the development of the Box2home solution and multimodal container.

“Paris was built thanks to and around the Seine river. In the heart of the city, the river allows us to set up low-emission and low-noise transport, which replaces dozens of trucks” said Pierre Rabadan, deputy mayor of Paris.

“Developing river transport is therefore not an option but a necessity for the City of Paris and we will encourage each project going in this direction. This project of river delivery and then with electric vehicles developed by IKEA France is a perfect example of what we want to support and develop in the future. An innovation which, I hope, will inspire many other economic players.”