iCandy is delighted to nominate Babycare of Dagenham to feature in Nursery Online’s retailer spotlight.  iCandy comments:

“As an iCandy Brand Ambassador, the retailer is an invaluable advocate for the iCandy brand and proudly showcases the full iCandy product range via bespoke displays.

Babycare of Dagenham was established over 36 years ago and has been trading with iCandy since the very beginning, initially stocking the limited edition Apple 2 Pear.

Family is at the heart of Babycare of Dagenham and the dedicated team has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to help parents make the best decisions for them and their baby.iCandy is proud to be stocked in Babycare of Dagenham, especially during this challenging period when the retailer has adapted with strength and determination.”

Tell us a bit about you and your store

My late wife Sue was both the inspiration and driving force behind our decision to open Babycare 36 years ago. After our son was born and we purchased our first pram in 1981, Sue was not entirely happy with it. She wanted to help other new parents in her position. We have been fortunate enough to grow and adapt the business over the years and the industry has come a long way! Sue sadly passed away nearly 2 years ago. The business is still actively run by myself and my Store Manageress Ellie along with our team of staff. We are very proud of the brands that we stock at Babycare and the relationships we have built with them. We have traded with iCandy since day one and feel as though they relate to independent retailers like us, as they are a family run business themselves and provide the important support needed in this trade. We are honoured for Babycare to be known as one of the few iCandy Brand Ambassadors.

Babycare of Dagenham

What are the foundations on which Babycare of Dagenham has been built and how does this translate into everyday business?

As one of the longest running independent retailers in the industry, we’ve built our business by relentlessly focusing on customer service, making our customers feel like part of our family and keeping our prices very competitive. Our biggest strength is that we are a family owned business, we treat everyone like we want to be treated, and those values have carried us through the ups and downs over the last 36 years.

What do you love about being in baby retail? 

We have the grace of playing a small role in helping support parents as they bring a wonderful new life into the world. We’ve been blessed to serve multiple generations of the same families and seeing children turn into parents and then grandparents and return to us time and time again is a feeling that words can’t easily describe. It’s fantastic!

What are your top 3 greatest achievements so far since you opened?

Our three greatest achievements are:

a) Our repeat customers. Its so easy to buy things online, but our customers realise that they can’t get the advice, care and attention anywhere else and so we’re really proud of the number of our customers who keep returning to us as their families grow.

b) The longevity of our Babycare family. It’s been a hard slog over the last 36 years and we’ve pretty much seen it all, but with our fantastic and knowledgeable team, we hope to be around for at least another 36! 

c) As a big football fan, I’m quite pleased that we’ve been able to serve new families like the Beckhams and Lampards; but my son would want me to say ‘still being around when Liverpool won the title again’!

Babycare of Dagenham

We know 2020 has been a challenging year so far, but what positive opportunities do you see for the market in the rest of 2020 into 2021?

Fortunately, in our industry, there is always demand and lockdown may even have helped nudge us into a baby boom. I’m hoping that brands continue to support smaller independents who play such a critical role in keeping our market thriving and provide unparalleled support and advice for new parents.

How have you continued selling and how is this working for you?

Like everyone we’ve had to adapt to keep going with the safety of our customers and our team at the forefront of our thinking. We are open by appointment only, deep cleaning between appointments, meaning we can spend quality time advising our customers and the feedback has been this is working well. We have growing demand through our website, but we’re finding our customers still prefer coming into the shop to talk with us and get that personal experience.

What has the response been from customers since March and since reopening and what has the response been from brands?

Our customers have been very understanding and valued the fact we didn’t just shut down (babies still arrived during lockdown!) and proactively contacted them to ensure no one was left without their goods. Since reopening we have had a great response from customers booking their personal one on one appointments in store. They have been very patient, understanding and loyal! Our brands have also been supportive via telephone and email. Although we are finding low stock from suppliers our latest challenge.

What 3 top tips would you give any independent retailer setting up in the parenting industry, particularly with the current challenges?

  • Prepare to work harder than you originally think. Setting up is easy, but staying around takes everything you’ve got.

  • Customer service! Remember you’re dealing with the most precious thing in the world to people. Treat them with care and understanding.

  • Having a great team. Building a team of staff with thorough product knowledge and an understanding of the different needs of parents.

Babycare of Dagenham

What do you look for in the brands you stock, and what tips can you give brands hoping to work with independents in the future?

One of the most important qualities in the brands we work with is receiving the support we need. Whether this means having a great display in store, customer service support or even support competing with the online giants. These are all things that can make or break an independent.

What exciting plans do you have for the year ahead into 2021 (if you are happy to reveal them!)?

At present we are continuing to improve our appointment system daily and accommodate more customer appointments in store even if this means working longer hours.

I don’t think anyone can think further ahead than a few weeks or so at the moment. I hope we continue to be the one stop shop for parents looking for a wide product range, personal service and great prices. This is what has kept us trading since the 1980’s and I want to continue to honour Sue’s memory and inspiration by doing this for many years to come.