iCandy Brand Ambassador: Kings Baby Shop
As a new iCandy Brand Ambassador, and the first in Northern Ireland, Kings Baby Shop is an invaluable advocate for the brand and proudly showcases the iCandy collection. We caught up with store owner Lisa - she kindly took the time to explain to us not only her industry insights but also what it means to be an iCandy Brand Ambassador.
Tell us about Kings Baby Shop – when did you open the store and what inspired you to do so?
Kings Baby Shop first launched in 1988, previously owned by my mother, Beatrice and father, Frank who had run a small toy business beside our home. This all changed when my mother went shopping for a new pushchair for me (and accidentally came home with 5!) and just like that, Kings Baby Shop took its first baby steps.
My parents always had an entrepreneurial spirit and soon realised there was a gap in the market for baby equipment in our area. Those four extra pushchairs were the start of Kings Baby Shop, the rest is history! At the start we were mainly a toy shop with a little bit of baby….now we are a baby shop with a little bit of toys! After graduating from university, I joined my mother and father in the business and began the development of our online store and social media presence. I absolutely loved all things baby (even before I had my own babies!) and I wanted to grow our nursery department by providing new parents with the best selection of baby goods and exceptional customer service.
Since launching Kings Baby Shop, how has it grown and developed?
Since our inception, we have grown not only in physical size but also in terms of our product offering and online presence. Even as the online side of our business continues to grow, we still hold true to our core values of outstanding customer service and providing parents with a wide choice and unrivaled expertise. Over the years we have had to adapt, react and grow with the ever-changing market and keep up to date with the latest trends.
How about your staff?
We are very proud of our dedicated team at Kings Baby Shop, they are passionate, knowledgeable and provide a truly personal service. Working alongside my husband Tony and I are Selena, Denise, Lorraine and Teresa. Our team is fully trained and experienced in all aspects of the products we stock. We demo pushchairs, car seats and build new wheels for collection, making nursery shopping a memorable and stress-free experience for all our new and expectant parents. My father Frank continues to play a daily role in the business, he keeps us fed with fresh bakery bread each morning and Beatrice (now retired) sends her apple tarts to sweeten us up. Our team is fully trained in all aspects of the baby products we stock.
How long have you been trading with iCandy – why did you decide to stock iCandy products?
We have been trading with iCandy for over 20 years, such an amazing brand and excellent quality. It was an easy decision back then and it still is an easy decision now to stock the full iCandy range. Years ago, the Apple to Pear and the original Peach were huge sellers for us. The Peach 7 has developed and evolved amazingly since then and we have loved the newest addition to the range, the innovative iCandy Core. Over the years we have sold a large amount of iCandy products, and we always receive extremely positive feedback from our customers, which is a huge testament to the brand
What is your bestselling iCandy product?
It has always been the iCandy Peach range for us, the new Peach 7 ticks all the boxes for new parents, we love it! Our customers are very impressed with how super sturdy it is but also how compact the fold is and how easy it is to use. The pushchair grows with your family which is a big plus, one pushchair that adapts for your growing needs as a family is a massive selling point. The new integrated Ride-on Board is also an amazing addition to the latest Peach model. The Peach 7 has everything in terms of practicality and does not compromise on style and finish. Customers also love the 5 Year Warranty, which speaks volumes about the quality of iCandy.
What have been your biggest challenges to date?
Over the years, like all businesses, we have come through turbulent times. We have seen recessions, currency fluctuations and Brexit. However, in recent times the Covid-19 pandemic has presented significant challenges. Thankfully we were able to adapt and offer personal zoom shopping appointments, click and collect and a local delivery service. We also used this time to grow our online offering and social media platforms, both of which were critically important in getting us through a challenging time.
The industry is very competitive – how do you stay one step ahead? How do you drive traffic and awareness to your store and website?
We work hard to create brand awareness and maintain a cohesive brand instore and online. Customer service is paramount to us, in providing our customer with specialist impartial advice. Traditional word of mouth recommendations has also been a key part of our success and we have been proud to serve muti-generations of the same family over the years. We are fortunate to be well known in our area and are so grateful for all our loyal customers who recommend us to others - sometimes word of mouth is hard to beat! We also drive traffic through our social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and more recently TikTok.
What does it mean to you as a retailer to be an iCandy Brand Ambassador?
We are absolutely delighted to be iCandy’s first Brand Ambassador in Northern Ireland and feel honored to be chosen and recognised as a business. iCandy’s innovation and vision is something we admire, providing products that are practical, functional and very stylish. We are proud to dedicate a large instore area to iCandy and will continue to showcase iCandy at Kings Baby Shop and look forward to the future.
Do you feel that your customers research products prior to making a purchase?
Yes, we definitely find customers will research before calling instore or shopping online. Customers still prefer to come into store for demonstrations and to receive advice on what is right for them and their lifestyle.
Is there a must-have product for your customers at the moment?
We are finding that the majority of customers are focusing on ‘bundles’ as a must-have, either pushchair bundles with all of the accessories and or baby bundles that include everything from travel systems, co sleeper, bouncer, highchair and baby monitor etc. We find new parents are keen to tick all items off their baby list and buying a bundle is the best way to do this. There is an added value and convenience with bundles, and it takes the stress out of baby shopping. Another must have product within the iCandy range is the Peach 7 Designer Collection Cerium. Even though it is a higher price point it is still extremely popular because customers love the sleek stylish black finish and premium fabrics.
When buying for your store, what features stand out to you within a pushchair?
We keep our customers in mind always and I am always on the lookout for a pushchair that is easy to use, robust but lightweight, and it also has to be stylish. We are based in the country so tend to sell larger wheel pushchairs, ones that are good for walking and tough terrain, so always sway towards larger wheel pushchairs. We stock a range of different brands and products to suit all lifestyle and budgets.
What is your pushchair trend forecast for the next year in terms of design features and functionality?
One hand fold is a brilliant feature on a pushchair, and we have seen a higher demand for cabin approved pushchairs with more people travelling and looking for an on-the-go pushchair. In terms of colours - neutrals, cream and taupe are very on-trend at the moment. However, black and grey will always be popular and last season we sold a large amount of green which I assume will continue.
Do you think parents have a greater focus on sustainability when it comes to their purchasing decisions?
Customers are prioritising longevity and would like something that will last with the ability to adapt for a growing family. We also see more customers opting for eco-friendly products that use recycled and sustainably sourced materials, which is great, and we are extending our eco-ranges instore and online.