This year my baby is ten years old! I founded Babyblooms in 2005 and our website went live in October. It was probably not the ideal year for my stress levels to launch a business with two small children in tow but it meant I was incredibly close to my product and customer and for that it was absolutely the right time.
Entering our tenth year is a huge milestone and one of which the entire team is immensely proud. Whilst indulging in nostalgia, I took a trip down memory lane and looked out some of the previous incarnations of our website, products and literature - I was totally amazed and shocked by how dated they look. But hey, ten years is a long time!
Babyblooms has evolved and developed over the decade as have our bouquets and gifts. Parallel with our evolvement is the gifting market which has changed enormously driven by new businesses, high street retailers and ultimately consumer shopping habits. During our first year, 40% of orders were placed by telephone and of the 60% that ordered online, many also telephoned to confirm details. Currently, more than 95% of orders are placed online and the orders received by telephone are generally because our customers have specific delivery requirements.
When I looked into some stats on internet usage I read from the Office for National Statistics that in 2005 less than 50% of UK households had internet access, whereas currently the figure is more than 85%. I also think consumers now trust the internet more and feel safer giving their payment details online which along with the growth of online businesses and improvements to the buying process means that shopping online is often more rewarding than hitting the high street.
The growth and stats regarding internet shopping came as no shock as Babyblooms has grown up in this world. However, customer's propensity to buy gifts online and in particular baby gifts has seen a more recent explosion and for that I think it's also a socio cultural change towards gift buying.
Internet shopping lacked the personal touch
In the past, many gift buyers felt that sending a gift bought online showed less thought and care through the lack of personal physical involvement. Attitudes have changed but there is still a nervousness about ordering for delivery straight to the recipient. This is where we aim to please and every gift from Babyblooms is wrapped beautifully with a personalised gift card, all as part of our free gifting service. We also strive to provide exceptional customer service and are thrilled that for the past two years we have been recognised with Feefo's Gold Trusted merchant Award for outstanding customer service.
Gifting etiquette has evolved: We now have more reasons to buy
How our attitudes and spending habits have changed! It seems we now have many more reasons to buy gifts and the baby market is no exception. From the announcement of a pregnancy, a celebratory baby shower, maternity leave, the arrival itself and the traditional christening, our average amount spent per baby has seen a sharp increase over the last ten years.
One group of customers which have embraced this change is the corporate world. It is now commonplace for companies and organisations to buy their staff and customers maternity leave gifts and congratulatory new baby gifts and most corporate gift buyers have a budget for maternity gifts. Ten years ago, whilst maternity gifts were bought, they were usually as a result of a collection in the workplace, amongst colleagues, which may or may not have been contributed to by the employer or company and it was extremely rare for companies to have a dedicated budget. The other major change has been the introduction and dramatic growth of Baby Showers to the UK. This concept is an industry in itself, bringing with it Nappy Cakes and an endless selection of both novelty and practical gifts to suit all budgets.
Variety and choice
Traditionally, it was considered to be unlucky to buy anything for the new baby until they were born and so maternity leave gifts were mostly fresh flowers and vouchers. New arrival gifts were also traditionally fresh flowers or an outfit for the baby which was selected and bought in person on the high street. Consumers are more open about when and what they buy and giving consumers more choice and innovating on the traditional gifts of flowers and clothing was what drove me to set up Babyblooms.
As one of the first dedicated online baby gift retailers in the UK, we introduced the concept of baby clothing bouquets and undertook to educate the public regarding this unique concept that we had developed. Our key message was that baby clothes bouquets are 'the perfect alternative to fresh flowers, a gift with wow factor that encompasses a beautiful silk flower bouquet delivered to the new mum and practical items of classic baby clothing for the new baby to wear.... all for the price of a bouquet of fresh flowers'.
We have also continued to innovate whilst maintaining the Babyblooms mantra of Beautiful and Practical. Our Pyjama cupcakes were introduced as a nod to fun baby showers and the emerging cupcake and baking trend, one which we honestly didn't expect to last!! More recently, this range has expanded to include our own take on 'Nappy Cakes', focusing on taste not tat, and our beautiful cakes are decorated with delicate silk roses and coordinate perfectly with our newly re-designed baby clothing bouquet range. We have also embraced the need for personalised gifts with teddy bears, bunnies, T-Shirts and much more designed with our beautiful illustrations and embroidered at our offices in Chipping Sodbury.
Product development and the flow of new baby gift ideas doesn't stop at Babyblooms and as we continue to evolve in the next decade, our aim is to ensure that our gifts remain both beautiful and practical and bring delight to the recipients. We also continue to support our charity partners and local businesses with our most recent additions to the range, baby skincare and leather baby shoes, all made in the UK
Ten years of changes to the digital world, gifting world and the world of babies and we at Babyblooms are proud but by no means still. We have survived increased competition and a global recession this decade and we are showing good growth as we enter into the next one. The team we have are a bunch of passionate, committed, (mainly) working mums who believe the best is yet to come. So with a decade of changes due, we better get back to working on our next new arrival!!
Founder of Babyblooms