If you’d told me before my first child was born in 2010 that one day I’d really enjoy shopping for baby products, I’d have thought you had mistaken me for somebody else. If you’d have told me this six months after he was born, I’d have been questioning your sanity.
Shoot forward three years and with baby number two having arrived, I was dragged kicking and screaming to the new Kiddicare store which had opened in Liverpool. And then my kicking and screaming stopped (shame I couldn’t say the same for the baby).
I think it was the best in-store experience I’ve ever seen. The basics were outstanding. The product range… the merchandising… the space… the clarity of signage… the visual design… the lighting. The ‘added value’ experience was better than anything I’d even seen. Soft play for the kids… a buggy MOT centre… the brilliantly designed ‘Walk in the park’ area to test buggies… the ‘Nursing nest’ area for feeding… the ViB (Very Important Baby) complimentary personal shopping service… doubled sized toilets for parent and child… the ‘Pit Stop’ free car seat fitting and safety check area… technology-led self-service… community rooms with events… and that all important need, free Wi-Fi!
I remember thinking to myself that they’d clearly done a lot of customer research and had genuinely acted and invested based on it. I also remember thinking I wished I’d worked on that account!
Since shopping there I’ve been a genuine advocate for the brand, recommending them on multiple occasions and using the experience as a benchmark for what other retailers could achieve. It’s clear from the volume of awards that they’ve won and from reading online reviews that I’m not the only one to be highly impressed with the experience, and although I can’t guarantee it because we haven’t worked with Kiddicare, I’m certain that any customer experience research they do would be very positive at both an overall and specific service level.
But this week, just three years after acquiring Kiddicare for £70 million, Morrisons have sold the ‘Mother & Baby Retailer of the Year 2014’ for just £2 million. Substantial losses are reported to have been made on their 10 stores, and Retail Week indicated that these are likely to be closed under the new ownership with a total shift back online.
A significant proportion of the research sector is focused on the customer experience, either developing it or measuring it, but Kiddicare just serves as an example that there is a balance between ‘wowing’ the customer and commerciality. One to remember when clients are wondering what they need to do to get 10/10 ratings across the board.
Gareth Hodgson, Associate Director @MustardResearch