Tell us about Baby Nest – when did you open the store and what inspired you to do so?
Baby Nest opened its doors way back in 1990 when Ellie, who previously ran a toy store, decided that perhaps selling baby equipment would be a more solid business opportunity. 34 years later, thankfully, the business is still here. Not a bad choice…
Since launching Baby Nest, how has it grown and developed?
Since the business launched in 1990, we moved our store to a larger and more prominent location within Greater London. The Lombard Roundabout is a major artery for traffic coming to and from the heart of London, as well as being close to major retail parks including IKEA which is a destination store for many. Our website, which first launched in 2009, has been revamped and is a fully functioning e-commerce store.
How about your staff?
We have a lovely team of six people who are all very hands-on with the running of this business. We ensure they are trained on all products and that “family orientated feel” that a customer feels when they walk into an independent store like ours, is something that our staff can feel when working within our business and is very much passed onto the customer. It’s a happy family we have here.
How long have you been trading with iCandy – why did you decide to stock iCandy products?
We were one of the first retailers to take on iCandy, I believe, back in 2005 if I’m not mistaken. Back then, it was the iconic iCandy Cherry and things have moved on a lot since then. We love the values iCandy brings to this industry and their products are always of a terrific standard and look great. They are a family-run business like ourselves and as such, that is a massive appeal to us as they are always warm and accommodating in the relationship they have with us as a retailer.
What is your bestselling iCandy product?
I don’t think there is any surprise in the answer and really the iCandy Peach is unique in that it ticks so many boxes whether it’s for one, two or even three children. It’s a major seller for us as a retailer.
What have been your biggest challenges to date?
The biggest challenge, which is ever-increasing, is the level of competition we face and it’s only getting bigger. What separates us from the rest, is our extensive experience and a large range of brands at a one-stop shop. Social media is such a huge influence on people's buying decisions. Recognising and adapting to trends is really a job in itself. This is a vital part of our business and it’s sustainability, so we have two people here who share that responsibility amongst other tasks they have to carry out.
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 talked about being visible online and via social media channels, but customer service is a factor that will keep us alive as a business. You can have 50,000 followers on Instagram, sell tonnes of products but if it doesn’t come with the right customer service, then customers will dis-engage and eventually your business will be harmed. You have to love what you do and working in this industry is no different, especially when your customer is buying products for the most important arrival in their life. Providing expert advice and care for your customers is what will always make you stand out and bring positive feedback. Word of mouth is still a very powerful marketing tool.
What does it mean to you as a retailer to be an iCandy Brand Ambassador?
We have always been extremely passionate about the iCandy Brand Ambassador. To get the acknowledgement as a Brand Ambassador was a big privilege for us and it has really strengthened our relationship and business with iCandy. I’m hoping being a Brand Ambassador will provide that recognition to our customers that we very much value and care about the iCandy brand and it shows when they walk through our doors.
Do you feel that your customers research products prior to making a purchase?
100% and whilst not all customers fall into that category, increasingly we find that making information easily available to the customer is extremely important. Information can either confirm what they already know or perhaps enhance their knowledge, which may either firm up their purchasing decision or in some cases change their mind. I find most customers already know what they want before they enter the door which usually results in a purchase. Given the range of quality of products that exist on the market today, whilst there may not be a product that is perfect for everyone, it’s much harder to make a wrong decision.
When buying for your store, what features stand out to you within a pushchair?
Apart from how it looks, we consider ease of use to the customer, which works well for us as a business. Our store is fairly large but we are very selective on what products we feature on our shop floor. We need to be sure that it will appeal to our customers' needs which can differ according to where they are located.
What is your pushchair trend forecast for the next year in terms of design features and functionality?
I think there will be more brands looking to create a mid-size category pushchair, with medium-sized wheels, and compact one-piece fold, but keeping the weight low. One suitable for your city trips and walks in the park. Fold the pram easily with one hand and free-stand.
Do you think parents have a greater focus on sustainability when it comes to their purchasing decisions?
It’s a growing factor. I’m not convinced it’s at the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment, but I think if we look at the newer, younger generation, it will most definitely become a larger focus for them in their purchasing decision.