Mother Needs to Care More

By Jeremy Blake on May 22, 2018

It is said that Mothercare has a 25% market share in buggys and cots and larger items. Yet in their own statement they now make 43% of their sales online.

What this says to me is that their in store conversion rate needs to nearly double for the stores to take the same amount of money they did in the pre online world.

Mothercare is the latest retail story of woe and closing stores and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

Fourteen years ago my wife and I wandered into Mothercare in Milton Keynes, as my wife was expecting our first child and we needed the whole set up. Nappy changing station as I believed they had become, cot, pram and a hamper of accessories from muslins to wipes and soothers.

I walked out empty handed and what could have become 3 children’s worth pf purchases topping the £5k to £10k over the years hasn’t been anything. Why didn’t they get us and why didn’t they win enough other customers to keep them in clover?

When my wife walked in with her bump were we met with a “Hi is this your first baby or are we growing the family?” Or even a “Are you looking for something for a nursery or is it other items?” No they were focused on products rather than people and the soon to emerge smaller people. Not all retailers are fixated on the product side of the business, the pile it high and sell it for more than they should strategy but I always felt they were. 

Rather like a travel agent that can congratulate a honeymoon enquiry, have Mothercare trained their staff to smile and congratulate every expectant Mother or couple that sets foot in store. No need for hours of demographic training here either – Pregnant or have a baby that is growing is a very clear pond to fish in. Sometimes there is the grandparent, so anyone browsing who is older is likely to be a grandparent or close friend of the family. Getting grandparents excited about their role is another sure fire way to get them wanting to buy from you.

The main shareholder owns 30% of the shares and now they are bringing back the ousted CEO in the  belief he can turn things around.

What can he do? Train his people to talk about babies and toddlers and help them and their parents reach the outcomes they desire. There are so many. A little more peace, a deeper sleep, an easy way to change a nappy, a better way to store and find clothes, ways to make the room calmer, more attractive. Easy ways to shop and get out and about with your buggy.

My advice is move to being an adviced based business and like a good car salesperson, as each parent has another baby they come back to you for the lifetime of the period they need your support.

That way people won’t just stroll out of Mothercare, they’ll walk out proudly with a Stroller.