8/12/14

A baby products manufacturer takes a bigger step into e-commerce

Munchkin has built its image around innovative products, and wants its e-commerce site to complement that image in retail as well as B2B markets. Online revenue on its e-commerce site more than tripled during the first seven months of this year.

Paul Demery , Managing Editor, B2B E-commerce

Baby products designer and manufacturer Munchkin Inc. only jumps into market opportunities that it figures it can win with innovation. “Munchkin was founded on the premise that we can take something mundane and make it better,” says Jonathan Bradbury, director of global e-commerce. “We go into product categories where we can be No. 1 or 2. If we can’t make it better, we don’t get into it.”

And so its baby spoons aren’t just spoons—they’re designed to tell you if food is too hot for a baby to eat. And its special sleepwear for infants isn’t the same on front and back—because infants spend most of their sleeping time on their backs, the garment has a built-in blanket layer on the front.

Now, with a new e-commerce site launched in January, “We want to bring our innovation to the web as well,” Bradbury says.

The company migrated last year off of a bare-bones e-commerce site that it had built on the open-source Drupal content management system, which included a rudimentary plug-in for an online shopping cart. “The site was not optimized for e-commerce or marketing,” Bradbury says. “It wasn’t a main focus of our company.”

Munchkin wholesales its products to some 100 retailers, including small boutiques as well as major retailers Amazon.com Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., which are Nos. 1, 4, and 18, respectively, in the Internet Retailer Top 500, which ranks companies on their annual web sales. But while its products have been selling on those retailers’ e-commerce sites as well as in their stores—and as overall web sales of its products have been growing faster than stores sales—sales on Munchkin.com’s early e-commerce site weren’t keeping pace.

With its new e-commerce site built on the Magento Enterprise e-commerce platform, Munchkin now has more functionality for deploying compelling online shopping features and for running online marketing campaigns, Bradbury says. The difference has paid off. For the first seven months of this year compared with the same period last year, the number of unique daily visitors increased 71%, while average order value rose 111% and daily revenue, 217%, Bradbury says.

As a privately held company, Munchkin does not report financial numbers, but Bradbury notes that its total sales are some several hundred million dollars, and its e-commerce site is making an increasingly stronger contribution to the total.

The new Munchkin.com is for now only for direct-to-consumer retail sales, but the company has plans to soon launch retail e-commerce sites for the United Kingdom and China and other yet-to-be-named markets. And early next year it may launch a B2B e-commerce site, as part of a goal to make it easier for Munchkin’s wholesale clients to order online according to their contract terms and with the services they need for record management and bulk shipping. A main reason Munchkin chose Magento, Bradbury says, was its ability to quickly deploy e-commerce sites tailored to the needs of B2B clients as well as consumers in multiple foreign markets.

The Magento platform, Bradbury says, can not only scale up quickly to handle high volumes of traffic and sales, but it also can be easily customized with add-ons for Munchkin’s retail as well as business customers. Open-source software makes its core software code available to developers for modifications.

Munchkin initially deployed Magento with the help of web design and development firm Gorilla Group, but now maintains the site with its in-house staff.

Among the new features Munchkin has deployed on its new retail e-commerce site that Bradbury sees as being particularly helpful in engaging and converting customers are product recommendations in the Certona personalization software. He also is high on an e-gifting feature, designed by Loop Commerce, that lets online shoppers e-mail a purchased product to a friend, who can then easily exchange if necessary on Munchkin.com.

Although Munchkin doesn’t sell directly to consumers as a third-party marketplace seller on Amazon.com or the sites of other retail e-commerce sites, it’s considering selling on eBay.com, taking advantage of the ease of integration Magento offers to connect with eBay.com and the PayPal online payment service. EBay owns both Magento and PayPal.

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Topics:

Amazon.com, B2B, baby products, Drupal, e-commerce site, insiteb2b_8_12_14, Jonathan Bradbury, Magento, manufacturer, Munchkin, Top 500

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