Now in its fifth decade, Bridport-based Babygear was acquired by The Baby Studio Ltd in 2010, but continues to trade under the firmly established Babygear brand name.
Owner, Derwent Walsh, explains to Nursery Online what he looks for from a brand when deciding to stock their products, how he’s made the store relevant to his target market – and why being a family business is so important.
Who’s your target market and how have you made the shop relevant to them?
“By necessity, new parents looking for a travel system, car seat or nursery furniture are our main focus, but we try to ensure we are a one-stop shop, carrying a wide range of products including organic clothing, toys and other baby products. We also provide car seat guidance and familiarisation as well as covering ongoing needs with highchairs, feeding and bedding.
As well as the main pram showroom, we have showrooms for car seats and nursery products. We designed our store layout to be bright and inviting with a logical placement of product types and have sacrificed display space to provide customers with a lighter environment, with seating and refreshment areas.”
How do you engage with customers in-store and online?
“Our focus is on the quality of their experience, so we give our customers space and time to browse the store. A customer may not purchase today, so naturally we want them to feel comfortable enough to come back and recommend us to friends – in fact, around 80% of our in-store customers come from personal recommendations.
As much as possible we treat our online customers in the same way as our in-store customers. Naturally we have to quote the usual shipping times to cover most eventualities, but we mainly ship out the same day for next day delivery. A significant benefit of being a small business means we have the capability to keep every customer informed on the progress of their order.”
What do you look for from a brand when deciding to stock their products?
“Quality products and price stability. It’s pointless stocking products so you simply become a free showroom for larger, aggressive online discounters – and without product quality you put your own business’s reputation at risk. Integrity and a meaningful relationship with a trusted supplier are next on the list.”
What sets you apart from other nursery retailers?
“With our lengthy career backgrounds in services, our approach to customers is more consultancy than selling, helping them find the right product for their lifestyle and taste and ensuring there is no sales pressure, just a relaxed friendly environment.”
You pride yourself on being a family business – why is that so important?
“A new baby is one of the most significant family events in people’s lives and customers can relate better to a family approach. This is borne out by the fact our store has served generations – customers who were once babies in a Babygear pram are now shopping with us for their own babies!”
What are your plans for 2022 and beyond?
“In 2016 we evolved The Baby Studio Ltd, a tiny boutique baby store, with the acquisition of the long established Babygear. Having updated Babygear with an EPOS system, stock control and a new website, in 2021 we began the next evolution of the business. We now have a large modern showroom for local customers and a warehouse side more suitable for our growing internet operation. We hope to hire more staff towards the third quarter, but at the moment that budget is going into marketing and activities that support online growth.”