Looking back, my pregnancy was one of the best phases of my life.. i was basking in everyone’s attention and I was still free to do whatever I pleased in life and whenever I wanted to, without a tiny little person clinging to my legs or breasts. 🙂 I miss my pregnancy a lot. I miss my baby bump a lot.. have never felt so comfortable with my body than I did when I was sporting a baby in my tummy. 🙂 And what do I do when I get really nostalgic about the bumpy days? I browse through the previous orders sections on ecommerce sites like Amazon, FirstCry and others. It takes me back to that feeling of playing totally blind, not knowing if it will be a boy or a girl, not being able to even imagine who baby would look like and how much he would weigh or his height. It was a beautiful feeling and looking at the old shopping lists – tiny booties, caps, baby diapers, bathing towels, blankets, nursing pads, cotton wool, wipes etc is so therapeutic.
Back then I mostly shopped and stocked for all baby stuff from Amazon, FirstCry, Hopscotch and Aliexpress. Then I got introduced to the other specialised ecommerce businesses, mainly for cloth diapers which were setup and managed by mompreneurs but were very professionally designed and run. And then came social media – Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp and the businesses that were run through these. The online shopping category has boomed and how?! I think I can say that almost 95% of babyT’s shopping is done online and I enjoy the experience and have been very satisfied with all my purchases.
So for today’s E is for eCommerce for baby shopping I will tell you about my favourite places to shop and some tips and tricks to make the most benefit.
- Big Organized marketplaces – Amazon has become my most favourite shopping destination. I tried loving the Indian online marketplaces but somehow they have not managed to engage me like Amazon has. I love Amazon because I can usually find anything under the sun here and its priced reasonably well, I usually find everything is sold cheaper on Amazon. Delivery is super quick and wherever I have found any issues with the order or the product or timelines, they have stepped in to resolve it quickly. Their customer service is prompt and delightful.
What I love most: about Amazon is with a click of a button I can shift to Amazon USA or UK and have used the service to send birthday gifts for my nieces and nephews living abroad and so too with them, they have used Amazon India to send rakhis for babyT’s first Rakshabandhan. The kit came complete with a thaali, sindoor and haldi and a sweet. How thoughtful and perfect for family living across the miles.
Amazon also now provides access to the global market place for little to no extra charge. Some specific vendors/ retailers/ products can be bought for almost the same price as they are available for in the US.
Some Cons: Amazon is a diverse marketplace and as such multiple vendors exist for the same kind of product. It is difficult to be sure about quality and service from the various vendors. But the way around this is to read reviews for each product listing before hitting Add to Cart. Also, Amazon’s packaging is superb but so wasteful. I once received one nailpolish bottle in a carboard box which could probably have fit 40 such bottles. The waste of paper and cartons makes me really sad. 🙁
Be wary of: Shipping charges. Some products have a low MRP but almost equivalent value of shipping.
- Specialised shopping sites – FirstCry and HopScotch have been my go to websites for baby clothes and other accessories. The biggest advantage with these sites is that they are usually only exclusive to baby products so you don’t tend to get lost in the shopping. (Hopscotch stocks big people fashion and accessories and home decor stuff too.) I am also very impressed with the delivery timelines and customer service standards of both these brands. I love Hopscotch’s return policy – very prompt, pick up is arranged and no questions asked. “:)
What I love most: A whole lot of baby brands, including Indian brands and international ones like Carters, OshKosh are available to us. Even famous international brands like EzPz and Pura are put up for preorder by retailers like Hopscotch and it is such a blessing to have access to these here in India. 🙂
Some Cons/ Be wary of: Well this is not a con really, but Hopscotch has pre-orders which take like a few weeks (say 4 to 6) to arrive and the wait can be killing and sometimes babyT outgrew the clothes even before they arrived. 😐
- International Marketplace – Aliexpress is changing the world’s ecommerce scene. China made products available at dirt cheap rates and literally anything under the sun is available. Shopping on Aliexpress is a boon if you like to bulk buy (have twins?) or you are looking to shop under a budget. Everything from clothes, cloth diapers, diaper bags, accessories, baby cribs, wipes,toys for all ages, shoes – if you can think it, Aliexpress will sell it.
What I love most: is the vast array of products and the latest designs and products (some copied from American brands, but hey if you are living with a budget then why not?) I have found some very innovative and creative products on here. I like the fact that they send the packages via national post, so it arrives with the daakiya from India Post. 🙂 I swear I didn’t even know who my postman was before I started shopping on Aliexpress.
Some cons: the excruciatingly long wait for the products to arrive. It can take anywhere from a month to longer to receive the product. Sometimes products don’t arrive at all (but ofcourse you are protected under buyer protection)
- Very specialised online sites for babies – With cloth diapers I also discovered that there were mompreneurs and they did the running of their businesses so well, with well designed websites, integrated payment gateways, giving options to shop and pay as per our mode of convenience (including Cash of Delivery and reverse pick up arrangements for returns) etc. One such experience was www.Superbottoms.com The fact that I use, love and recommend Superbottoms is a foregone conclusion by now, but it has a lot to do with how professional and committed the mom behind the business is. She brings a lot of professional Marketing wisdom to her business and it shows. Same applies to many such moms who started small but are dreaming big and building sizeable businesses today.
What I love most: The businesses maybe small but they allow you the same features and benefits of online shopping as any other big marketplace or ecommerce sites.
Some cons: very specialised. You may find only one particular category of products here. But then that is the USP and nothing wrong with that.
- Facebook and WhatsApp businesses – I was astonished that people could run businesses solely on Facebook. Yes there are hugely popular businesses, with some fabulous products which exist only on Facebook. I have bought clothes, books, toys and random stuff for the house from Facebook business pages. And why just Facebook, WhatsApp is a great medium for people to build communities of their products users, showcase products, earn orders and be reviewed in real time by users. Technology has really transformed the way we shop. I have bought most of babyT’s books from a Facebook run business which sells preloved books and I have so so glad that I found this avenue to invest in a special hobby for babyT.
The way they operate maybe simple and small but the fact that these business pages have a huge fan following and brand value shows how important a medium social media has become off late.
What I love most: Personalised attention. One-on-one interaction with the person who runs the business. Customized solutions and service.
Some cons: Mostly it is mums who are running these businesses and if you are expecting that your query will be responded to in the next 5 minutes or your order will be shipped out within minutes of you paying, you may be disappointed (don’t be disappointed if your experience is actually contrary too, some people can afford to hire manpower)
- B/S/T groups on Facebook – If you thought businesses that operate on Facebook was a novel concept, wait till you hear of Support groups and the facility they give you to BST – ie. Buy Sell or Trade. With mommying I became a part of many online support groups for cloth diapering, babywearing etc. Although the primary objective of these groups is to allow members to learn a new skill and share successes and troubleshoot, they provide access to a valuable market where people prefer to save money by buying preloved (second hand) products for babies. So items like baby carriers, cloth diapers, baby accessories like toys, cribs, beds are freely sold and purchased. Such a big help for parents to save money by buying or to make money by selling their unused or outgrown products and such a brilliant way to ensure the product gets used to its fullest potential, without having to just discard it.
What I love: As a seller I know I will have a ready market for my products. I can rest easy that resources will be well utilized by me and then someone else and then perhaps another family.
Some cons: It is easy to be disappointed by the quality of the product that arrives. BSTing on these groups requires that all the parties be on the same page about quality and degree of usage. Transparency is very important but it is not rare that buyers experiences turn out to be poor. Arbitration is difficult as most transactions take place under mutual discussion and most importantly trust. Also. facilities like cash on delivery, paying by credit card etc are not possible and you have to float your personal bank accounts to receive payments from the buyers.
Be wary of: Scammers. At times people buy for a lower price and then try to spin off products at a marginally higher price.