In a time when high street stores are dying on their arses, and internet shopping is taking over, Kiddicare have done something very clever. They’ve taken their good online model, and made it work offline, in bricks and mortar stores. Starting with just one store, the company, owned by Morrisons then bought ten former ‘Best Buy’ stores, and at a cost of £15 million turned them into Kiddicare stores, and it seems to be money well spent.
I was invited to the Blogger #KiddicareHayes event yesterday, and was able to take a look around their newest store in Hayes, Middlesex. Generally, Kiddicare stores are largely the same, but it’s there’s good reason behind it, it’s a fabulous format for a store.
The first thing you notice is the SIZE of the stores, they are MASSIVE, despite the size, the layout has been carefully considered. It’s not jam packed with shelving and displays that you have to battle round, they actually have thought that parents will be going round with buggies, trolleys and crazy assed toddlers. Also pretty much everything going is out on display and ready for you to play with. From Buggies, to Beds, to Toys they usually have at least one demo model of a product out for you to try.
We found it invaluable when we were looking for a baby carrier for J – we’d seen a few online. That’s all well and good, but it was fab to go to Kiddicare, pick one up, adjust it, and actually PUT J in and test it. When you’re spending a fair wodge of money on something, it’s great to try before you buy, there’s no need to fret about buying it, getting it home, finding it’s wrong,etc. Another good example is their massive range of stair gates, they are all set up in pretend doorways so you can actually test them. Genius!
When it comes to buying car seats too, as well as having the experts on hand to help you, they’ve got a fabulous ‘queuing’ system for busy days. You just tap your details in on a tablet, including your mobile number and you get put in a virtual queue which is displayed on a large screen. So you don’t have to stand watching a screen, they’ll text you automatically when it’s your turn to be seen.
The facilities in store are very good too, there is a cafe selling all manner of tasty goods, we got J a lunchbox, which included a sandwich, carrot stix, apple and grapes, Fromage frais and drink for £3. They also do baby food (Hipp and Ella’s Kitchen), plus adult food too. It’s all very fairly priced and really very tasty the cafe also has a play area that you can put your little ones in to play, J loved it in there! They also have a large ‘pod’ for mothers to breastfeed should they wish to do so away from the busy store. Also special mention must be made to the toilets too, they are perfectly equipped for children and adults, and the ‘communal’ baby change area is great. As a Dad I’m amazed that so many places only have baby change facilities in the female toilets, it’s good that every parent is equal to Kiddicare.
Something that is rarely seen in the UK are the price tags on the shelf – they are all electronic – they have screens very similar to those on a ‘Kindle’. The electronic tags mean that prices can be altered almost instantly, keeping them bang up to date with little margin for discrepancies. Kiddicare do seem to be very hot on their pricing, I actually saw a senior member of stuff checking prices on Amazon. Also the online and offline prices of Kiddicare stores are the same, I guess the electronic price tags keep this beautifully in sync. The only problem is with the electronic tag is they seem to be a toddler magnet, J kept trying to grab them! Thankfully none of them got ripped off and in his mouth!
There are also terminals around the store for you to ‘Buy Online’ so if you find an item of furniture, or product that won’t fit in your car, you can just buy one from the terminal and have it delivered to your door. There are just lots of cool little quirks to shopping there, and I think that is why they are doing so well. Online shopping is all well and good, I’m a massive user of the ‘1 Click Checkout’ on Amazon, and I’ll normally get what I want next day. But it’s good to be able to walk in a shop pick up what you want, give it a good test and once over, and walk out with it, happy you’ve paid a fair price.
I did see that Dixons concept stores of the future would be tablets that you can flick through products, and look at them on a tiny tablet. Who wants to do that? If you’re spending hundreds or thousands on something, you want to actually have a look at it in the flesh first! I’m a massive Kiddicare fan now, and I think if you’re a parent, or about to become one, then there really is no better place to shop for stuff for your little one!
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