Mothercare has launched an online community for parents in a bid to boost its online sales.

Gurgle.com, as it is called, is a joint venture between the retailer and MediaBurn, a digital marketing company focusing on social networking sites.

It offers baby-related articles, tutorial videos, an online ovulation calendar and a baby-naming search engine, as well as enabling parents to contact other mums and dads that live near them or whose children are at a similar stage of development.

It will compete with the likes of Mumsnet and netmums, as well as a number of other parent-oriented sites.

The move is another clear sign of social media’s growing importance for retailers – Hitwise said yesterday that the amount of traffic they received from social networks rose by 153% in the first nine months of this year.

Ben Gordon, Mothercare’s chief executive, said:

“Mothercare already has a well-established web presence and Gurgle.com is a natural extension, leveraging the expertise and authority of our brand combined with innovative online marketing opportunities, to reach and help a broader spectrum of customers.

“As the site will link to Mothercare.com, it also offers us the opportunity to engage with our existing loyal customers via a new forum as well as reach parents who otherwise would not be exposed to Mothercare.”

Related research:

Social Commerce Report 2007

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Interview with Tim Curtis, head of Mothercare Direct