Nursery brand Mamas & Papas prides itself on going the extra mile for parents-to-be, offering up a personal shopping service for customers in-store. 

Last year, this reportedly led to an 11% increase in like-for-like sales for the brand during the Christmas period – cementing the demand for this kind of personalised shopping experience.

Up until now, its ecommerce efforts have failed to match up, offering online shoppers a purely transactional (and often disappointing) UX. Now, the retailer has re-launched its website to give consumers a ‘content ecommerce experience’ that mirrors the one offered in its physical stores.

So, does it deliver? Here’s a review of the new Mamas & Papas site, focusing on key areas of change.

New look and feel

Previously, the Mamas & Papas site was fairly underwhelming in terms of design. Purely product-driven, its header menu sufficiently pointed users to various categories including best-sellers, car-seats and clothing. However, there was nothing particularly inspiring about its creative, with the site typically using promotions and a dedicated section for offers to drive sales.

Now, the homepage is much more slick and streamlined, using large site-wide imagery to highlight hero products. Its menu has been moved to the left-hand side, separated into two distinct categories of ‘shop’ and ‘discover’ – which signals a definite shift in how users can navigate the site.

There is no longer a mega menu, and while its absence does contribute to the impactful design, the new slide-out mobile-style menu adds a few clicks onto the user's search journey.

Plus, with popular items like ‘car seats’ not immediately visible, this could frustrate customers or potentially prolong search. 

Meanwhile, the categories have been updated to include items ‘for mum’, as well as a new focus on furniture and pushchair collections, with the latter set out in a newly designed showroom format. 

This means that - with a select number of items in each category (10 in furniture, and just five in pushchairs) - each item is individually showcased as the user scrolls down the page, using a combination of large imagery and informative copy to highlight specific features.

For new parents struggling to decide between larger-spend items, this section is likely to be particularly useful. It's also just nicer to look at, resulting in a much more enjoyable browsing experience.

Collection and product pages

Within the furniture and pushchair categories, users are prompted to ‘learn more’ about each product, which then leads on to new and in-depth product pages. 

The ‘Why Buy Me?’ section is particularly effective here, whereby in-depth information is again likely to help parents narrow down to bigger purchases. 

Similarly, these pages include practical information (such as ‘age guidelines’ and ‘weight’) which nicely complements the inspirational copy above.

Elsewhere, larger and standard items like ‘clothing’ are not given the same showroom treatment.

They are still decent enough. With a heavy focus on large and hi-res imagery, it’s easy to gain an idea of what fabric and other details might look and feel like in real life. User reviews also provide social proof to reassure customers (or not, as the case may be).

However, I do wish these pages were more filled out. Mamas & Papas could have definitely added more calls to action, as well as other effective product page elements like prominent returns info.

Similarly, the option to check stock availability in-store only appears when you add an item to your basket. This is annoying, as users are unlikely to know this is the case, potentially leading to many abandoning their journey at this point. Niggles like this make for a disappointing UX, especially in comparison to the slick design of the new collection pages. 

‘Discover’ content

Alongside the new ‘Shop’ format, Mamas & Papas has introduced an entirely new section dedicated to content. This is part of its aim to guide customers ‘through pregnancy and beyond’, with the hope of becoming a place that people turn to for help and information alongside the products themselves.

So, is it comprehensive enough?

I was quite impressed with the amount of content on the site, as well as the variation of subject matter. Separated into four sections of ‘learn’, ‘grow’, ‘support’ and ‘inspire’ – there is a good mixture of helpful articles, such as ‘what is hypnobirthing and why does it work?’, and product-focused guides like ‘choosing the perfect car seat’.

The brand has also partnered with influencers and experts in the field to ramp up authenticity and engage consumers.

For instance, it has collaborated with food writer Madeleine Shaw for content on nutrition, and founders of skincare brand Bloom + Blossom for articles about self-care.

There’s certainly a demand for this kind of content. A reported 70% of new mums using YouTube turn to the platform for tips and advice on parenting on a weekly basis.

While Mamas & Papas already uses YouTube to deliver this, its new on-site content hub has been designed in conjunction with the shopping experience, aiming to subtly point users towards products at the same time.

So far, this is a bit hit and miss. Products are only integrated into certain buying guides, while articles are only promoted in the new pushchair and furniture category and product pages. This is perhaps a deliberate move on the part of the brand so as not to appear too salesy, however it does mean that users might remain unaware of a lot of the content, with the danger of the 'shop' and 'discover' verticals living somewhat independently rather than complementing each other.

That being said, the content is still effective as part of the retailer’s wider efforts to increase value for existing and new customers, as well as better aligning the online and in-store experience in terms of help and advice.

Other notable features

While the new Mamas & Papas site is largely geared around its new discover section and showroom pages, there are a few other features worth noting. 

Mobile optimisation

According to the retailer, more than three-quarters of its online customers access the site via a mobile or tablet device. Consequently, it is fully optimised for mobile, also including helpful features like a store locator, which rapidly returns store info based on location, and multiple payment options for fast mobile checkout.

User generated content

User generated content was nowhere to be found on the former Mamas & Papas site. Now there is a dedicated section for it on the bottom of the homepage, pulling in content with the hashtag #mamasandpapas from Twitter and Instagram.

These are not just screenshots either - users can actually click on and through to the person’s social profiles, giving people more of an incentive to get involved.

'Let us guide you'

On the homepage, there is also a nifty user guide which helps customers narrow down their search. This is particularly useful if you are looking for an answer to a specific question, or conversely whether you want help picking out a gift.

It asks users who they are (e.g. ‘Dad’ or ‘Friend’) and what they want help with (‘interesting articles’ or ‘buying advice for…’) before taking them to the appropriate product or item guide.

Unexpected reassurance

Finally, a small but nifty feature that helps to reassure users as they browse. The category pages are now interspersed with small illustrations that highlight USPs, such as 100% cotton and nickle-free poppers on baby grows, plus general perks like free delivery.

In conclusion…

With its revamped ecommerce site, Mamas & Papas has certainly made strides to align its offline and online customer experience. Both now offer a more interactive and personalised service – largely thanks to informative product guides and helpful parenting advice.

There are still features that could be improved. Product pages within clothing and home categories need greater focus, with further calls to action to prompt customers to purchase. Similarly, the ‘discover’ content needs to be better integrated into the ‘shop’, if only to prevent users from sticking to one vertical rather than experiencing the two in conjunction.

Elsewhere, highlights include the new furniture and pushchair pages (which are very well-designed) as well as comprehensive and varied editorial content.

Related articles:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 8 November, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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