The history of the shop based in Busto Arsizio (a small town near Milano), which after nearly half a century moved to a beautiful new location, their combined e-commerce activity, their way to develop the offer based on the consumers’ requirements, their customer service activities: Luisa Regalia, owner and CEO, and Cinzia Margarito, content and marketing manager, talk about these issues. By Daniele Caroli
Interesting architecture: From the outside, the Nidodigrazia shop radiates a special atmosphere.
When we visited the Nidodigrazia store in Busto Arsizio, in its new location where it moved in November 2017, it was a pity that the bad weather could not provide the proper illumination to fully appreciate the beauty of the glass building which houses the exhibition on its ground floor, rationally divided in various product areas, with sections reserved to particularly attractive brands and nappy-change and toilet facilities; the offices and a breast-feeding area are on the upper floor. From the shop one has direct access to the large warehouse. The name of the store in English would sound like “Grace’s Nest”.
A traditional company with a lot of innovation
Luisa Regalia, owner and CEO of Nidodigrazia srl, tells us the story of the firm: “Nidodigrazia is more our home than a commercial activity. Its story, in fact, is the story of our family. Today my brother Francesco and I are the owners and managing directors, but it all started in 1945, when our grandparents manufactured brass cots and other baby products, particularly playpens and highchairs. Growing up in such environment, in 1969 our parents eventually founded the historical point of sale in Corso Italia avenue, Busto Arsizio (Varese), ‘Il Nidodigrazia’, a very popular store in our area, which for many years has been, and still is, a trusted family shop. In the Eighties the outlet had 9 windows and a vast range of products on display. At that time, it was one of the best-stocked and most reliable stores in this sector in Italy.
When I and my brother joined the ‘team’ we decided we should maintain the primacy and run the business in the best possible way, making the most of our strengths and always aiming higher. We have been specialists in the childcare business for decades and we want to continue being a reference point for our customers.
That is why in 2000 we started an e-commerce activity on the Internet. We were received with enthusiasm on the web, also because we were the first in the field, in Italy, to open an online store. Since then our physical store in Busto Arsizio and our online activity are a single reality, with stock being updated in real time and the possibility also for our nearest customers to buy, either in person or comfortably from their home. Finally, after 48 years, we decided to make a big a change.
Busy: Owner Luisa Regalia can not complain about a lack of work.
A big step
We set out to always keep up with the times, constantly innovating and renovating, keeping a productive interaction with our customers/users. The old historical outlet did no longer represent us so, with a lot of sacrifice and help from our precious staff, on November 24th, 2017, we eventually moved to our new premises and inaugurated the new Nidodigrazia point of sale, the ‘new store’, as we called it.
The heart of the company is always the same, with its core business, its working methods and its vast selection, but the offer got wider, as well as the in-store display, the stock and the actual possibility to help new parents in the choice of the products dedicated to pregnant women and new-born babies. We are very proud of our new location, still based in Busto Arsizio, at the new address in Corso Sempione avenue”.
The online store
To talk about the e-commerce activity intervenes Cinzia Margarito, content and marketing manager: “We have been online since 2000 with Nidodigrazia.it, the first e-commerce portal in the nursery sector in Italy. We have always been offering our customers not only the same products they can find in our physical store but also the same service.
Unlike the territorial reality, the Internet is a fast ever-changing world. In the same way, we constantly update our approach to the online business. Our web site is updated in real time based on the arrival of new products and on the latest offers for parents. It is connected to the physical store, and until now this has been a winning feature in our market. Our client can easily buy online from home or come to our store to look at the products and talk to our expert staff, and later decide to make the purchase from home. Our online service is different from the other e-commerce stores thanks to its human approach, its reliability and assistance. If customers/users have any question about a product, they can reach us in real time and get a response by just picking up the phone or writing an e-mail.
“In order to offer the best and most up-to-date childcare products on our portal, we operate online using every possible channel available on the web. We operate on all social media and in particular Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Google My Business. Also, we have often involved our customers in prize contests, obtaining a very high level of participation. We send a newsletter to customers alerting them about upcoming promotions or novelties. Through the web we also inform about special opening hours and discounts. Finally, we narrate the early childhood world in our blog devoted to mothers, with advice and insights, as well as through the news on our web site, addressed to the general public and others interested in the subject”.
The stationary shop and the online shop are firmly linked.
Understanding the customers’ requirements
Based on her experience, Luisa Regalia tells us about the developments she has witnessed through the years in the customer service area: “During the years of ‘field experience’ we have learnt in the first place to understand the parents’ requirements based on the latest trends and changing habits. In this view, our store may serve as a link between the final consumer and the manufacturers, who receive from us retailers the right feedback to create products specifically targeted to meet today’s families’ demand. Our core business is definitely the strollers and car seats segments, but we offer everything a future mother may need, for her and the child. Our range of products is more and more complete to satisfy todays’ parents’ demand, young people who live smart, travel a lot, always using smart phones and PC’s.
That is why our inventory should always include, for example, a car seat for the grandparents’ car, since they are often given the task of taking the children to the nursery school, or even strollers suitable for snow or sand, and there should always be a selection of appliances apt to make life easier for today’s mothers, working women always in a hurry, but – luckily – always concerned with their children’s needs”.
Practical and multifunctional products
We ask Cinzia Margarito about the changes she has seen in the customers’ requirements, tastes and habits: “As far as our target customer is concerned, it is inevitable to make comparisons with the past”, she says.
“A few decades ago parents had no choice but buying heavy, analogical types of products, but they were necessary anyway. That was what the market could offer at that time. Today, instead, parents look for technological and digital products, with practical and multifunctional features, often preferring the 2 in 1 kind of product: Mom’s handbag becoming a diaper-changing mat; the lightweight travel system which avoids having to buy a new stroller after six months; the carrycot that can be used in the car and as a bassinet; the food processor that can be used to prepare both baby food and meals for the whole family.
We can say that today’s parent is generally well informed and practical, therefore he tends to be a conscious consumer who avoids waste also when it comes to buying baby products. We at Nidodigrazia give him all our support. We help him in his choice, give him our best advice and offer him a highly diversified product range, giving preference to new products, to make sure that the article destined to the future mother or baby is up-to-date and in line with the latest parameters of environmental sustainability”.
Strollers are part of the Italian specialist’s core business.
Sectors in the exhibition area
How are the different product categories distributed in the physical store and what is their relevance for the purpose of the shop’s appeal and turnover? Luisa Regalia replies: “Our new outlet is very bright and large, and it displays a vast range of products for babies from 0 to 3. We have many strollers, divided by brand. Our activity is focused mainly on strollers, a segment we have been specializing in for generations, and we are always in search of novelties.
Every year, in fact, we attend the international baby trade show Kind + Jugend in Germany, where we concentrate our attention on the new proposals in the strollers area, to be able to offer our customers the latest products in this sector. Then we have an exhibition area for children’s rooms and a sector devoted to car safety where we display the best car seats available on the market. The children’s feeding corner with the best highchairs for the weaning phase and the relevant dinnerware. An entire wall of our store is reserved for maternity and baby clothing. Then we have toys, a section devoted to baby cleaning and care and a sleep corner.
Last but not least a part of the store is devoted to home safety, with a display of indoor safety gates and many other items for the protection of children inside the home. There are in-store video displays throughout the outlet, showing interesting stories regarding babyhood and improving the customer experience, helping parents to choose among things they already know and at the same time find out about useful products they did not know.
“Finally, the large space we have in our new store allows us to treat our customers with special care. In fact we have a corner for breast-feeding, with comfortable armchairs placed in a reserved area, and the diaper-change corner, with a constantly sanitized changing mat and all the cleaning products required for the child who goes shopping with mom”.