Is it better to buy from an independent baby store or to buy direct from the manufacturer? Buying your baby gear direct from the manufacturer may make you feel warm and fuzzy but is it the best thing for you or your new baby?
We reveal the dangers of buying from a baby brand directly and not getting actual independent advice from a truly independent baby store.
Independent Baby Store Versus Buying Direct
Buying direct will not give you the best Deal. More importantly, you wont get true independent advice. Worse, you could end up buying multiple times to get the right baby products for your needs.
Fact: Statistics show that mums buy 5 prams over the life of a child.
In the past, it’s been because we had too many multi-store baby retailers who employ retail assistants that are exactly that – assistants. They are not trained to assess a new parents specific needs and make professional recommendations. They are not baby product experts.
As a result, they can not give good advice. If a retailer does not ask the right questions and get to know about you and your lifestyle, they can’t give you the right advice.
When I got into this industry, I made it our mission to save parents money by making sure that parents choose the right products for their specific needs the first time.
When you buy from a real independent baby store who has highly trained product experts like us, your needs will be analysed. Independent baby stores sell many brands across each category. Be that cots, car seats or prams, baby carriers, baby monitors or wherever it may be.
The New Problem
Now we are seeing a new problem. Some Baby brands are opening their own “stores”. They even call their (previously known) “show rooms” – “baby stores”. In addition, they advertise on their websites that they have “baby stores”. This is in fact a bigger problem for parents. Especially new parents. Let alone the fact that you would hardly call them “baby stores”.
Let me explain….
Every parents needs are different. Independent baby stores who are baby product experts like us, know all too well that no single brand in any category has a solution for every parent. They just don’t. That’s why we have multiple brands in every category. And that’s why they all can survive. Each Pram has their own ideal customer profile and solve specific problems for customers.
And if a baby brand thinks they are the solution for every parent, they are kidding themselves.
The old saying that “You can’t be all things to all to all people” has never been more true.
When a customer visits our store who is looking for advice, we first ask lots of questions. We go out of our way to understand your lifestyle.
Some of the questions will be:
- Do you already have kids?
- How old are they?
- Do you intend having more?
- What car you drive?
- How many cars in the family?
- Where you live?
- What you do on weekends?
- What you do during the week?
- How often you holiday?
- How you holiday?
- Your type of home ?
- If you have stairs?
- Cupboard space?
- Nursery room size?
- Master Bed room size?
- Amount of wifi in the house?
- Do you plan on breastfeeding?
- and a lot more!
When we get to know our customer properly with the above information as well as many other things we have not listed, then we can make sure that we are recommending the right solutions for you specifically.
We use the word solutions because all the products need to work together to make your and your little ones life easier, more comfy, safer and be practical. On top of that, it needs to fit your specific budget.
A Manufacturer’s Agenda
When a baby brand sells to you directly, it’s only about one thing. Selling their own product(s) to you. And probably what they have a lot of stock of…
I know this for a fact as I have worked with so many of them personally at baby expo’s for well over a decade (since 2006). This is often their only interest. They don’t ask these questions about your lifestyle unless they have worked out that the answer you are going to give suits their agenda with their product.
The only time I have seen a brand advise a customer to look at another brand was when they thought the customer is going to be a difficult one or couldn’t or wouldn’t pay the price for their brand.
I have even had them pull our staff up and tell them not to ask those questions of customers because it exposes a weakness in their product or product range. Their sales tactics can be one-eyed. To be honest, with the large cost of buying space at an expo, I can understand why. That does not make it right though.
It’s actually one of the reasons we no longer attend baby expo’s. I found myself in a conflicting situation with our own company mission.
What New parents need.
What new parents need, is true independent advice from someone with experience of all the brands and their products. Someone who knows both the strengths and weaknesses of each product and which lifestyles and customers that they are ideal and not ideal for.
That includes if their warranty service is good and if the quality is good. The safety benefits amongst many other things.
This can only come from a truly independent baby shop that represents multiple leading brands with extremely well trained staff with experience.
Do you get a better price buying direct?
No. Not unless it is discontinued product or you are buying factory seconds which we would never recommend. Unless of course it’s only a damaged box or scratch only type damage. Buying factory seconds is like buying second hand. It’s a safety risk. It’s not recommended for safety reasons. Who would intentionally buy something that is a safety risk for their child?
A baby brand that under-cuts their own retailers is a bad business decision for that brand. Most are smart enough to know that they will lose all of their retailers. This has been demonstrated by a few brands already. They can’t afford to do that. At best they may match one of their retailers, even then – they shouldn’t.
Nor can they afford the cost of warranty and after sales service, nor do they have the resources.
Do I get better warranty service?
No. They don’t have the facilities or staff to handle this with all of the parents separately. This is the retailers job and expertise. Make no mistake, this is a significant cost and requires significant resources that they don’t have and don’t want. It’s not their business model and they generally do a poor job at it.
Just about every issue we and my competitors have (yes we all talk) come back to the manufacturer debating with us behind the scenes over each warranty claim. Some brands are better than others. The customer doesn’t see this because we shield them.
We protect the brand and the customer. I can’t think of anything worse for a brand or a customer to be handling this directly without the baby store protecting the customer and the brand.
Buy from an Independent Baby Store & get the Best Deal
Besides getting the right advice so that you save money by selecting the right products for your needs, there is another fact.
If you buy all of your baby needs from an independent baby shop, you can get a great package deal. Sure, a brand can give you a package deal on your cot and change table and mattress, but they can’t wrap it all up in one package deal for all of your nursery needs.
Smart parents will ask their independent baby shop for a deal for their baby furniture, pram, car seat or seats and all the other accessories. And there’s a lot of them! That is a custom package deal with ALL of the products they specifically want across multiple brands.
An independent baby store like Bubs n Grubs can wrap all of it up in one simple package and save you a fortune as opposed to a brand doing a small package for just your pram or just your cot package for example.
This is how you will really save money.
One Point of Contact
On top of that, you have one point of contact for any warranty concerns. One store who will go in to battle if needed on your behalf to get that issue sorted out for you. Especially if one vendor is blaming another. For example, the baby capsule manufacturer is blaming the pram that you connected it to.
It happens more often than you think.
Why do Brands Sell Direct?
You would have to ask them. They tell me that they are scared of one big multi-store baby retailer in this country owning the market and their brand.
The bottom line is that brands are good at designing and manufacturing product. That is their core business and they should stick to that and support the independent stores doing a good job for customers.
Retailing product involves more than throwing a product on the retail floor and waiting for customers to buy it. Large multi store operations may think that’s okay, but then again, that’s probably why over the past two decades, most of them have gone broke.
Retailers need to stick to their core business and should not import their own products either. We have seen all the ones that do, close up shop also.
Independent baby stores who stick to their core business, make it their job to give good quality advice are here for the long term. More importantly, they will give you, the customer, the best experience and value long term.
Good Brands Don’t need to pretend to be a retailer.
You don’t want to be one of the many parents who buy 5 prams over the life of a child. Or the one that buys multiple car seats or breast pumps, the wrong baby carrier or the one with the wrong cot that breaks your back! Or have a sore back because you chose the wrong cot. All because you got the wrong advice or none at all.
The bottom line is that the only way to get the right advice is to speak with real independent product experts. Not only will they assess your specific needs, they will also give you the best advice. They will do it independently of the manufacturer / brand.
Independent baby shops only care about the customer getting the right product the first time. This is not necessarily in the manufacturer’s / brands interests all the time.
I can not stress the importance of getting the right advice from actual baby product experts, not just a sales assistant working in a large multi-store who may not even be working there next month. Not a baby brand that only has their brand’s interests at heart – not yours.
We have a full team of highly trained staff on helping you choose the baby products for your specific needs. Do not hesitate to seek advice from us. We are here to help.
About the Author
Frank is a founding owner of Bubs n Grubs. He is also the sole author of the Bubs n Grubs Baby Blog. He has been personally evaluating baby products & testing them before offering them to our customers since 2009. In addition, he is consistently giving manufacturer’s feedback & product development advice, reviewing & getting customer feedback. He has been doing this since the business started in 2009. He is proud to be one of the rare baby store owners who regularly engages with customers in store. Frank values the constant feedback and regularly seeks it out. He has been featured on the Morning Show & the Today Show on Channel 7 and Channel 9 and is a recognised expert in baby products as a result.