Kerk Tze Seng (L) and Steven Teo (R), founder and marketing director respectively of Baby K.
Image courtesy of Baby K.
Shopping for kids often feels like a sport of its own. There are so many things to consider, and with kids being kids—think curious and largely non-verbal—it falls on us as adults to make responsible choices and decisions when shopping for them. And because all parents want nothing but the very best for their kids, reading online reviews is a great way to gain insights into the countless brands and baby products on the market.
For customers, reviews allow them to make more informed shopping decisions, but for brands, they serve as a peek into the needs and wants of consumers, allowing them to further improve upon their products, or create new items to fill a gap in the market. This is how Singapore-based baby and toddler product brand Baby K
Over the years, the founders of Baby K saw how different brands grew in the industry by constantly innovating new baby products to meet the evolving needs of consumers. Inspired by Jessica Alba’s baby products line, Honest, and driven by their own young kids, nieces, and nephews, they decided to take the plunge in 2020 and start up their own line of baby products. Taking advantage of the pandemic-induced online shopping boom, Baby K was launched on Amazon to tap into the large pool of American consumers, and in their second year of business, the brand hit USD$1 million in sales.
The global baby care products market is estimated to be worth over USD$67 billion this year, and will only continue to grow as new brands like Baby K jump into the industry. That said, what is it that makes Baby K stand out? Here, we speak to Steven Teo, Marketing Director of Baby K, about staying afloat in this saturated industry, and how being an Amazon Global Seller has helped.
1. Baby K was started in 2020. What were some of the challenges you faced in growing the business in the pandemic, and how do you feel Baby K was able to provide for the needs of parents in that time?
The safety and wellbeing of children and newborns was and still is a priority for parents everywhere, us included. From the start, we’ve chosen to focus on the safety of our products, and only put out products that are certified, and that have gone through rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe for children.
Additionally, we also pride ourselves on our products' design and quality. The team conducted a lot of research to learn about parenting before even starting to work on our products to familiarize ourselves with how babies grow and what they need to develop healthily. At the time, we looked into technical things like the size of a newborn's fist, their growth cycle, the shape of a healthy head, and more, which helped a lot with product design.
For example, we took into account the size of a child's mouth when designing a baby spoon, as well as how certain shapes and materials can help prevent accidents such as choking. It was a super interesting process for us. This all goes hand-in-hand with our extensive market research to identify what kind of products are a hit with modern parents, and how we can disrupt the market with the latest and greatest designs.
One of the earlier design sketches of Baby K’s rattle socks. Image courtesy of Baby K.
Some of the challenges that we faced in this aspect were understanding the behaviors and needs of customers in a different country, familiarizing ourselves with the preferences of parents from the US, and complying with the laws and regulations of selling our products there.
Fortunately for us, the pandemic opened up new doors and actually provided more opportunities to reach a wider audience since shopping became more of an online activity. But as for the needs of parents, I feel that the pandemic didn’t really change anything that we knew previously.
As parents ourselves, we understood firsthand what to look out for in products, and we had a better understanding of common problems faced. At the time, parents were still considering the safety of products, how functional or beneficial items would be for their child, and whether it looks cute or suits their aesthetic. Since the first two issues are more objective ones, we chose to tackle the problem of aesthetics in our market research. We used tools like Pickfu to conduct short polls among US consumers to better understand their aesthetic preferences, and Helium 10 to gather data points to help with product research.
In the US, ladybugs and the number seven are signs of good luck. So naturally, Baby K’s ladybug playmats, with their seven spots, are one of their most popular items among US customers. Image courtesy of Baby K.
With Helium 10
, one feature that we find most helpful to look at is the search volume of keywords, to look at existing brands and their sales trajectory. Through this, we can then estimate get an estimate on sales volume, and product specifics like which colors are trending at the moment.
on the other hand, one interesting insight is that for our baby playmats, the ladybug design was super popular. Some voters left comments saying how it’s a sign of good luck, and the fact that it even has seven spots makes it even luckier, which isn’t something that us Asians would normally pay much attention to.
I think the biggest challenge faced was about expanding overseas. We did explore growing the business in Singapore, but no matter how many parents there are in Singapore, the consumer pool will always be significantly smaller than other countries, like the US or Europe. Hence, we chose to become an Amazon Global Seller to break into the US.
Steven TeoMarketing Director of Baby K
2. Apart from conducting this initial market research, how else does Baby K tweak the design of products or come up with new product ideas to meet the tastes and needs of consumers?
Amazon is our best friend in this area—through the big data it provides, we are able to delve deep into finding out what parents are looking for way before we even start our design process. Shoutout to our invaluable in-house team that works hand-in-hand with Amazon!
We always start off with keeping an active list of upcoming or potential projects that our design team will be working on. When we've come up with something more concrete, we run it through Amazon to be tested with consumers, and make adjustments based on the feedback given.
We also study the reviews of similar existing products from other companies to identify any specific consumer needs that we can address in our own version of the product. From there, we design our products to meet these needs, and then go on to see if there’s anything that we can add to it to provide additional benefits for users. For this, we like to scroll through the “People are buying this with…” section on Amazon.
One example would be our lightweight baby stroller
. We noticed that most of the time, people would buy separate storage bags every time they bought a stroller from a different brand off of Amazon, so we made sure to include a large storage basket and detachable multi-purpose storage bag in our stroller design.
For existing products that we sell, we also take our own customers’ reviews into account. When we first released our baby rattle socks, we received quite a number of reviews saying that our sizes were not suitable for their babies, and that the socks slid off easily. Babies come in all shapes and sizes, and they grow up so fast, so we didn’t think it would make much sense to introduce new sizes that would have to be replaced every few months. Instead, we came up with the idea of using velcro straps to make the socks adjustable. Since then, we haven’t really received any new feedback regarding the sizing of the socks, and they continue to be one of our most popular products to this day.
Baby K's foot finder and wrist rattle. Images courtesy of Baby K.
Apart from tweaking product designs, we also try our best to offer additional resources to our customers to enhance their overall shopping experience with us. For instance, with our baby playpens, we realized that customers were having trouble with the assembly process through their reviews, so we filmed and uploaded a series of tutorials for our products that require more detailed setups, and included a link to it with every purchase. According to newer reviews that we’ve seen, this seems to be helping so far. We’re even designing our own version of pop-and-go playpens that have been surfacing in the market recently. They require minimal setup, which we think our customers would appreciate.
We are able to pick up on trends quickly, sometimes even before a certain category of product becomes a hit, just by analyzing the data on Amazon.
Steven TeoMarketing Director of Baby K
3. Another part of the research and development process is actually testing out the products. How does Baby K test out new products, and what is this process like?
We have a few rounds of testing for all of our products, the first being from our partner who liaises with our supplier and manufacturer overseas. After he receives a sample from the factory, he will test it out for us and often send us photos and videos of him showing off the different features quite excitedly, like a happy dad playing with new toys.
Following that, he’ll send the sample over to us in Singapore, where we’ll do another round of testing just to make sure the product is stable and safe even after shipping, and whether or not the colors and materials are correct. If all’s good, we start production right after the second round of testing.
Depending on the products, this process could be completed in as fast as two weeks.
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4. You mentioned that Baby K started listing products on Amazon to break into the US. Why did you choose to sell on Amazon specifically, and what are some of the benefits of doing so?
We chose to sell on Amazon because it’s the go-to website for Americans looking to purchase products online. The ready-to-purchase traffic and overall maturity of Amazon is something that drew us in as well. There are many tools available for sellers on Amazon, and these tools have consistently been refined over the years, so we know that they’re reliable.
One of the features we really appreciate is Vine reviews
. How this works is that some of the most trusted reviewers on Amazon will be invited to test out newly launched products for free and post their honest thoughts about them to populate reviews and help fellow customers to make more informed decisions with their purchases. It’s an invitation-only program, so we trust that these reviews are genuine and sincere. We’ve found this feature very helpful since the start, because it’s helped us to pinpoint major problems in our designs, which has in turn allowed us to rectify and improve upon them quickly.
Another Amazon tool that we find very helpful is the new Product Opportunity Explorer
tool. Previously, we used to only depend on Helium 10 to search for and analyze products. But ever since the Product Opportunity Explorer tool was released, we were able to collect even more information about which products might be more popular, or trending products that we should take note of. The data comes directly from Amazon, so it is definitely a lot more accurate than Helium 10. Now, we use both platforms together to get a better perspective when we choose new products to develop.
On Amazon’s backend, we also get to see all the numbers and data of consumers, like the search volume and growth of specific keywords, any products or brands that tend to do better than their competitors, and potential sales scores for our own products. And because the data comes directly from Amazon, we know that it’s accurate.
We also highly depend on Amazon’s various shopping events like Prime Day to push out our products with great discounts, and reach an even wider pool of consumers. In terms of sales volume during these shopping events, some products can reach up to 3x or even 5x regular sales.
Steven TeoMarketing Director of Baby K
5. What were some key lessons you learnt along the way as an Amazon Global Seller? How has Amazon helped Baby K grow as a brand?
One of the biggest lessons we’ve learned is to never assume that our products will sell well. There is a lot of effort, learning, and understanding involved in the process of creating and selling new products, from initial research to production to marketing. Every little detail that we set out to improve will contribute to the success of the product as a whole, and understanding customers’ needs is an important part of this process.
Behind every Baby K product listed on Amazon lies many rounds of design revisions. Here, we see the evolution of their baby rattle socks, from the earliest version (L) to the latest versions with Velcro fastenings (C and R).
Images courtesy of Baby K.
Ever since we became an Amazon Global Seller, we’ve become more mature sellers. We pay more attention to details now, and we understand that online shopping isn’t just about producing quality products—it’s also about giving customers a smooth overall experience, from the landing page to product descriptions to the checkout process. We’ve learnt a lot from analyzing the Amazon.com Global Store, and are using this to improve upon our own website and branding as a whole.
Amazon has exposed us to a wide pool of overseas customers, which helped us to grow and expand greatly as a small, Singaporean brand. Now, we can say that we are an international brand since we are selling in a different country. In fact, at the moment, 80-90% of our sales comes from the US, with the remainder in Singapore.
Steven TeoMarketing Director of Baby K
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, advertising and gaining customer reviews.
6. With the baby product industry being so saturated, what are some tips that you have for sellers struggling to adapt and remain competitive?
Innovate and never stop improving. There is always a brand out there that will create something new, and you have to always be aware of that, and think about whether you can create something better. Oh, and never stop listening to what your customers want or don’t want from your products. They are your voice for more ideas, so don’t neglect them and their reviews!
7. Baby K is one of the first few local sellers to want to trial Amazon’s new “Buy with Prime” feature, where Amazon plugs into your website and fulfills orders on the backend. What made you want to explore this particular feature? Are there any other features or tools on Amazon that you’ve found helpful for your brand?
Previously, Amazon rolled out this virtual bundle feature where sellers could group certain products together for consumers to purchase as a set. We tried that out as well, because we saw it as an opportunity to create a sort of virtual baby hamper. The main appeal of this is that we didn’t have to physically pack everything together to make a bundle set. But what we needed to figure out was which items would go well together, and our target baby age group, so that it makes sense for parents to purchase these bundles. We did see a 5-10% improvement on some of our sales. We kept this up for about five months until we eventually decided to focus our attention on pushing out bigger products, which are much harder to bundle together as a set.
Essentially, what works for one brand might not work for another, so we’re always open to trying out new features for ourselves.
I think that it really doesn’t hurt for sellers to try out every new feature that Amazon rolls out, because you never know what might work for your particular brand until you actually try it out for yourself. Look at it this way—every new feature introduced is an opportunity to grow your products and brand even more, so there’s really nothing to lose.
Steven TeoMarketing Director of Baby K
8. What’s your personal favorite product from Baby K?
I would say our strollers. What we have is a compact, lightweight stroller, which is super easy to use and great for travel, but as I look more into the different types available in the market, I’m starting to find that it’s crazy how there are so many different types that we could explore for future designs.
I used to think that a stroller was just a stroller, but there are very specific ones like jogger strollers, tandem strollers, tricycle strollers, and many more. I think they actually have the longest history of innovation out of all the baby products out there, and the possibilities are endless, so I really enjoyed the process of researching and designing a good, compact stroller for Baby K.
The compact, lightweight stroller is one of Baby K’s best-selling products, and comes in a variety of colors. It’s also foldable, and comes with a detachable storage bag. Images courtesy of Baby K.
9. Growth and future plans?
We are planning to expand to South East Asia, Canada, South America and Europe. We are also thinking of setting up more brands for other regions such as Home Appliances, Furniture, etc.
10. Tips for other sellers?
For sellers in general, if you are starting with a certain budget, it is always best to do your research first before going in. Project how much you will actually sell and always project below the expectation. If you can accept the slightly below expectation numbers, then it won’t go very wrong.
After you have started, figure out what works and what doesn’t and whether or not the product can continue or you should let go and focus on another product. Not all products you push out will definitely be a winner despite doing your best research. What is important is you learn from it and look at the next product that will work. You need to find the one that works for you and also figure out what you or your product is lacking compared to customer needs.
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