Thursday, 3 January 2013

Our visit to Kiddicare Lakeside

When I first heard that they were opening a Kiddicare store at Lakeside I was super excited! I had heard about the stores in Peterborough and Merry Hill and they sounded fab but both are too far away for me. Lakeside (Essex) is about half an hour away from us (we are in Kent) and the fact that it is somewhere that we go to around once every 6 weeks (to do our shopping at Costco) it is an ideal location!

Kiddicare Lakeside opened mid December and a week later it was time for me and some other very lovely bloggers to come check it out! Was lovely to meet the other bloggers, Clare (Emmys Mummy), Leta (Attachment Mummy), Kate (The secret life of Kate) and Lucy (Dear Beautiful Boy) sorry for anyone else I have missed off (baby brain!!)

When we arrived I was amazed at the sheer size of it! Its really not surprising that it houses 3,800 products! I brought my Aunt with me to help with Chester and Millie as I wanted to concentrate on the store and do some serious shopping afterwards! We were ushered over to the Kiddicafe, which serves Starbucks coffee, a big plus in my opinion as I love Starbucks coffee!

We all had a drink whilst waiting for everyone to arrive. Chester was very happy that he could play in the play area, it was a great play area, just the right size for kiddies and not so big that it overtook the cafe. It had half adult height walls and a door to keep them secure! The cafe also has a Nursing nest, and whilst Kiddicare are more than happy for you to nurse your baby where you want, they also recognise that some mums prefer to nurse away from the hustle and bustle. There is also free Wifi in the Kiddicare store and I can confirm it works and it works very quickly! Whilst we were waiting Chester needed the toilet, now this may sound soooo sad but the toilets were awesome!! I have actually never seen anything like them!

As you can see the toilets had a small child size toilet with an adult toilet next to it, best of all they were big enough to take Millie's pushchair into so no more worrying what to do or leaving the toilet door open so he can go to the toilet with me in sight! The toilets were well thought out for children, with sinks and dryers at child height and also step stools for them to use if need be. The baby change area was great too, a long change table at perfect height with bins hidden away underneath. Again very spacious so no worries about buggies being in the way.

Once everyone had arrived we were split into two groups, the group I was in was taken on a store tour with Jennie, I immediately noticed how well thought out the store floor plan was. The isle space was big enough to maneuver buggies without knocking half the stock off of shelves! They also have kiddie sized trolly's which I thought was a nice touch and it certainly kept Chester interested for longer than he would of normally!

Everything was in very clear sections, for instance if you needed to look for a new pushchair all 350 Prams/buggies/pushchairs are in one place all surrounding the 'walk in the park' buggy test track. The track is perfect for trying before you buy. Not only will you find the pushchairs there you will also find accessories you may need to go with your pushchair. The Car seat section with more than 150 car seats was another great section, they offer free car seat fitting and checking and you can even book your slot for this on a touch screen by the Car seat desk. So no more waiting around for a member of staff, once booked just come back at your time and someone will be there to help!

The safety section had something I had never seen before and am wondering why it has not been picked up on sooner!! There is a pretend hallway with lots of door frames, attached to the door frames are different types of Safety gates! So you can test out which ones you like, if you can get into them and more importantly can your child get into them!! (if your child is anything like Chester that last test is essential!!). Not only did they have the safety gate doors they also had other safety items on display to try, such as cupboard locks and cooker guards.

Something that was a big hit with Chester was the changing room, Kiddicare have recognised that Children like to be included in everything so in their changing rooms they have a door for the adults to walk through and a separate, child sized door for the children to walk through! A small detail for us grown ups maybe, but this was a big hit with the kiddies on our tour.

When Chester was a baby I was a bit silly and didn't really shop around. I just picked up what I thought I needed and brought it. Looking back that was a stupid thing to do. I haven't made that mistake with Millie, instead I have spent hours researching products and prices until I have got the best deal and then (and only then) I purchase! But actually I now know that there is actually no need for anyone to do either of those things, I noticed whilst on the store tour that the price labels we different from anything I had ever seen. They were not little bits of paper, they were actually digital screens with the price on. Upon asking about them, their correct name being Electronic Shelf Edge Labels. They are used to keep online and in store prices consistent  and competitive. Kiddicare HQ compare and update the prices daily, it can all be done at the touch of a button. The ESEL's (for short) also display up to date stock figures for each store so you can see at a glance if you need to snap up the product you want quickly! Another reason they use these ESEL's is so that it frees up the staff, meaning they can spend their day serving customers rather than time consuming things like changing price tags. This certainly showed when I was browsing round later in the day, the staff we all happy, friendly, and not rushed. The 3 members of staff I stopped to ask questions about products I were interested in, were more than happy to help. They took the time to explain pro's/cons/alternatives and also interacting with Millie (when she was awake!) so I came away feeling happy that I had got the help I had wanted and not been fobbed off or rushed, which is what I have felt in the past when asking for help in shops.

Around the store there are also lots of touch screen browse and order points, which is handy if you want to order something in a specific colour or something you want is too big for your car.

There is also a pushchair servicing area, where your pushchair will either get worked on in store or if needs be sent away. A toy play area where your children in effect gets to try before you buy, another great hit with Chester and certainly something to keep the kiddies entertained on a shopping trip! A gift wrapping area where you are welcome to wrap up the gifts you have just purchased! They even have a ViB (Very important Baby) area, where you can have a free personal shopping experience.

Phew after all of that walking around we then sat down for some lunch, I had a lovely Panini and the kiddies each had a lunch box, which in my opinion was fab. They got to pick a drink and sandwich and then 3 other items from a selection, the box alone kept Chester entertained for a while!

After lunch it was time to head to Kiddicare's event room, which is a free dedicated room for customers and the local community. We were treated to a JoJingles session, which the kiddies both loved. It all proved a bit to much for Millie though who fell asleep shortly afterwards!

Chester was getting tired by that point, the store had seriously worn him out! So my Aunt took Chester back to the car whilst I browsed the store with a sleeping Millie! I picked up a few items that we needed and was happy in the knowledge that I was getting the best value.

We had a fantastic day at Kiddicare Lakeside, I can not wait to visit again, in fact I loved it so much that I am heading back there at the weekend! Hubbie joked that its not good for our bank balance, my answer to that was that Kiddicare have got an upto 80% off sale at the moment!!

I have since told some family and friends about the store in conversation a couple of them went to see what all my fuss was about and were pleasantly surprised, what was even more pleasing to hear was that without me even mentioning the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff, that was the first positive comment that was fed back to me. So its clear to see that it was not just a show, the staff really are that friendly and helpful all of the time!

Kiddicare say that they want to make the shopping experience easy, happy and above all fun, and to offer parents and families everything under one roof – they are all about offering great range, incredible value and brilliant service  They have certainly proved that to me, I am actually amazed at the store, I have never seen anything like it, but now I have seen it, I think it is totally the way forward!

I have used Kiddicare online with confidence in the past, and am now so pleased that I have got a store, in fact, at more than 50,000 square feet a store that is Europe's biggest baby store.... only a short drive away! If you live nearby any of the 3 stores then I certainly would recommend you go take a look at what all the fuss is about for yourself! If you are not near one of the 3 stores don't panic, Kiddicare have got another SEVEN stores to open!!

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