For the past 3 years, we’ve been operating first as a physical store, and secondly as an online store. We’ve experienced some amazing interactions with customers at our shop, and I love working with our retail sales team.
But we noticed:
- Our online sales doubled last year,
- More people are buying online, to collect in store, than ever before, and
- Less people are shopping in the physical store.
And while I love the shop, and the skills it's forced me to develop within myself, change is necessary. Especially if we want to keep helping as many parents as possible. We are therefore closing the Ihakara Street shop and focusing more of our attention online.
At the moment, we have a new location lined up which I'm very excited about. It has a show room for demonstrations by appointment, car parking for installs by appointment, and space for storing our stock and co-ordinating online order collections. We will be moving there in the next few months but will stay at 18 Ihakara Street until the end of March - it's just that we won't be open 7 days a week like we have been for the remainder of our time here.
It’s a big change for us, but we want this to be easy on you.
What does this change mean for you:
If you shop online with us, you can expect the same great service, but we will be looking to improve the user experience
If you’re local - look forward to a huge in store sale!! After that, you’ll be able to shop online, by appointment, or during special open days
Car seat checks and installs will now be by appointment
Demonstrations of strollers, baby carriers, or cloth nappies, etc, will also be by appointment
Click and collect will be expanded, with an exciting new location in the works which is likely to be more convenient for our customers who work than our current location
Things to look forward to:
- New location
- New Ambassador Program
- New product lines
It’s been super hard to work through this process. The store itself, and supporting local families, was the dream. And this change means we’re losing our amazing staff members. I am so sad about that. I am so sad about closing the storefront itself. It feels like, personally, a failure.
But - it’s also exciting. And I know it's the right move for our business and our customers, as well as my family.
We will still be helping local families - and this change means we have more resource to actually go out into the community more often. I have loved going out to events with Porse, to our local Kapiti Baby and Child Show, to day cares to do installs for them, to the Wellington Baby Show, to the Palmerston North Baby Show.
To date, each time we have done something like that, we've had to balance how much stock to bring and how much to leave in the shop, and whether we keep the shop open or put everything into the event we're heading to. This change means that won't be an issue for us in the future - we can come to you more often. I'm also hopeful that the team will still be able to help us out with events in Baby Box's future. In true form they've both offered support for that if they are available - that's just the kind of people they are.
It frees us to focus more on things that I think, we can do really well. I really enjoy building the online store, and have a few changes that I've not had the space to focus on which now we're making room for. Things like how the online store is organised, and the collections we have there. It's going to become a better online shopping experience.
The new location is going to be easier for our family, as it’s closer to my children’s school. My kids have suffered when I've chosen to stay and work extra hours at the shop, and it got to the point where they hated me working. The new location is more flexible to what they need, and not having the demands of being open to the public for as many hours also makes it easier for me to prioritise things that are happening in their lives.
It’s also closer to the train station so we can potentially offer extended collection times too, so it’s going to be a bit easier for our customers who are working parents to pick up online orders.
The new ambassador program is something I’ve been spending a lot of time working towards as well. The goal is to offer a cash incentive to our ambassadors, instead of just free products. This is something which I think has more value to parents who have already bought most of the big items in baby gear, but who still want to promote our brand.
And finally, by pulling back on the expenses that come with a physical storefront, I’ll also free up our business so we can invest in new products that you are sure to love (and that you’ve already been asking us for).
So all in all, it’s a bittersweet time. Change is hard. It is scary. But this is happening.
From next week, the shop at 18 Ihakara Street will be closed except by prior appointment. Just give us a call or flick us an email or live chat message - or we will call you if you have something to collect from us or a hire you need to return.
You can of course still shop our entire range at www.babybox.co.nz as normal. If you have any questions, we encourage you to flick an email to us at email@example.com.
Additionally, if you are a local business owner looking to hire someone, let me know. Our two retail team members will be looking for work and I don't think they'll be on the market very long. I literally interviewed as many people as I could for their positions, and they were the best of the best - both scored 25/25 on my interview sheet, and have been a great support ever since. Literally my only issue was that we don't get enough people walking through the doors here to justify keeping this store open as we have. Everyone who visited, was looked after, and I can 100% say that my team have put a lot of heart into helping our locals.
Thank you for supporting us through this period of change. Seriously, our customers are what keep me going when business is hard. I love how many stories we have from our interactions with our customers and their families. I love the baby photos you guys send me and reading the reviews you leave for us. You are the best, and I am more motivated than ever to make this restructure worth it for you.