As an iCandy Brand Ambassador, Bumpstart is an invaluable advocate for the iCandy brand and proudly showcases the full iCandy product range via bespoke displays. We caught up with the team to find out all about their store and to get their industry insights...
Tell us about Bumpstart – when did you open the store and what inspired you to do so?
Bumpstart Baby Shop was born in 1993. Helen, my mother, with a toddler and 8 week old baby in tow, dreamt of a career that could help provide parents with a better choice and experience when it came to shopping for nursery equipment. That’s when a little advert with a rural nursery franchise opportunity caught her attention. In theory, the concept was great, our family had the space just a minutes walk from home (what once was a barn!) and there were no other stores like this in the area. In practice, well, I know it’s been a juggle, but an exciting and fulfilling one. In 2007, we moved away from the franchise and became completely independent. Last year, I took the leap, after 10 years sourcing and developing clothing for the UK high street, to follow in Mum’s footsteps and take the helm as she steps into retirement.
Since launching Bumpstart, how has it grown and developed?
Bumpstart has grown exponentially in our 29 years of trade, both in physical size and product offer. We have renovated multiple times, built an e-commerce site, social media platforms and continue to adapt, react and grow with the ever changing market.
However, I think the secret to our success and longevity is due to being an independent, specialist store. We have always held on to our core-values. Customer service, specialist experience, quality products and value for money wins time and time again.
Tell us about your business set-up?
We are lucky enough to have a very large bricks and mortar store and an e-commerce site. We work by appointment currently, and offer both in-store and virtual appointments, which has been invaluable over the past two years for our customers. We also offer several additional benefits to our customers such as free storage, payment plans and courtesy loan service.
How about your staff?
We are so proud of our dedicated team, they are passionate, knowledgeable, and caring. Helen and Myself together with Janette, Susan, Katie, Jen & Mia have a combined experience of over 90 years (eek!) Our team are fully trained on all aspects of the baby gear we sell. We demo, we fit, we like a technical question to challenge us! Our hearts are in the job and I believe this really comes across to our customers in both our sales and after-sales services.
How long have you been trading with iCandy – why did you decide to stock iCandy products?
We believe we were one of the first independent stores to pick up iCandy around 15 years ago. The team remember when Martin first arrived at the store with the iCandy Apple, and they were impressed! Martin, when challenged, answered all the team’s technical questions with ease. Moreover we just fell in love with the iCandy brand, and it’s clever intuitive products – it was quite a revolution for the nursery industry at the time!
What is your bestselling iCandy product?
It’s got to be the Peach, all 6 versions of it! We’ve loved it from the start, and it continues to tick all the boxes for our parents. We love how intuitive it to use, sturdy yet easy to manoeuvre, incredibly adaptable but doesn’t compromise on quality, style and finish. And a 5 year warranty to boot – whats not to love?
What have been your biggest challenges to date?
Although we have faced many a challenge over the years, the standout one has got to be the pandemic and subsequent lock-down periods since March 2020. We really had to think on our feet when we were forced to close our doors. Luckily, we were able to quickly adapt our offer to include virtual appointments as well as click and collect services which proved invaluable to both our customers and business.
The industry is very competitive – how do you stay one step ahead? How do you drive traffic and awareness to your store and website?
The national stores and internet-based retailers always like to keep us indies on our toes! However, we try a keep an even keel by always keeping our core-values in mind. We wholeheartedly believe you just can’t beat a face-to-face service & specialist impartial advice! We are fortunate to be well known in the area and predominantly customers hear about us via word of mouth. In the past couple of years social media, of course, has become an important tool. We have invested more time into our social media strategy, posting regular updates, building a more cohesive brand. We are proud to have grown and large following and great engagement rate on both our Facebook and Instagram accounts. It are these combined aspects which continue to drive traffic to our store and website.
What does it mean to you as a retailer to be an iCandy Ambassador?
The iCandy ambassadorship has proved invaluable to Bumpstart. Having the title, the beautiful bespoke iCandy area, the expert training, really elevates Bumpstart beyond our competitors. We are privileged to get iCandy’s support & an even some times an insider view on new product launches!
Do you feel that your customers research products prior to making a purchase?
100%, being in the know is totally in-vogue. We make sure we are clued up on the latest test-scores, reviews and ratings, to make sure we can handle whatever question a parent may cast our way! However, saying that the numerous channels of information available, opinions of well-meaning friends and family can be overwhelming for most, this is where Bumpstart steps in to help navigate the world of baby equipment and source the best fit for each family’s lifestyle & budget.
Is there a must-have product for your customers at the moment?
There are so many essentials, but one must-have phrase springs to mind, ‘bundles!’ These are really popular with our customers as it takes the headache out of purchasing a travel system and all the paraphernalia that goes with one. Our customers adore the Peach, Orange, Lime and Cerium bundles as they include every accessory to take them through the changing seasons… and a cup holder, because we all need one of those!
When buying for your store, what features stand out to you within a pushchair?
Functionality, practicality, quality materials and aesthetics are all important attributes. We try to stock something for everyone, catering for all tastes, lifestyles and budgets. We always buy with our customers in mind.
What is your pushchair trend forecast for the next year in terms of design features and functionality?
The use of sustainably sourced fabrics and performance materials is definitely key. A compact fold and lightweight chassis that doesn’t compromise on functionality will always be in fashion. In terms of colours, we are seeing more neutral tones coming to market with the addition of some more unusual greens and blues.
Do you think parents have a greater focus on sustainability when it comes to their purchasing decisions?
Yes, this is definitely a question that comes up more and more often. We are pleased to see the brands we work with introducing more sustainably sourced and recycled materials to their products. Concepts such as reduced and recyclable packaging & product recycling schemes are also a great step forward for the industry, but there is much more that can be done!
The nursery industry is constantly evolving with new products coming to market all the time – how do you know if a brand is right for your store and customers? What are the key features you look out for?
There are so many things to consider when buying into a new product. Do we love the concept and will our customers? Is it good quality? Is there a gap for the product in our offer? Is the price right?
We strive to keep abreast of insider industry trends, trade shows, social media and most importantly taking note of customer feedback.