A good babycare range is vital for parents with young children. Priyanka Jethwa mystery shops three multiple c-stores in north London to assess their ranges and asks: how do you shape up?

Co-op

The fast-growing multiple c-store chain is light on promotions but staff say its range is poised to grow

Range
This Co-op has a babycare range comprising of 18 items that take up three bays in store. When RN asks the store assistant if they have any other baby products, as only two are stocked, they explain that two new Heinz products will be introduced to the store’s range in the next few weeks

Promotions
This Co-op doesn’t offer any pro-motions at the time of this visit and has one item out of stock. But, it does offer a £1 value pack of Co-op own brand baby wipes in a pack of 80. Unlike Tesco, its nappy range only offers own-brand in a ‘value’ price of £4.

Cross-merchandising
The babycare section is cross-merchandised with toilet roll, feminine sanitary care items, soap and toothpaste, all under a ‘Health and Beauty’ banner in store. Opposite it is a standalone ATM machine.

Location and space 
Babycare items are positioned at the bottom of the shelf, at the back of the store, and because of limited space, the store isn’t able to offer more than the two baby food brands. Ella’s Kitchen is the most popular brand with mums, staff say, which secured its place when the company last reviewed its range.

Tesco Metro

The company’s urban supermarket format caters for the needs of modern parents, even if its customers know more than its staff

Range
This Tesco Metro offers customers a wide range of baby-related products, with five shelves dedicated to nappies, including Pampers and Tesco’s own-brand. When RN asks the store assistant if the store stocks any gluten-free products, the member of staff doesn’t know, but a shopper nearby explains that Ella’s Kitchen is the most popular brand.

Promotions
This store offers a seven-for-six promotion on Ella’s Kitchen pouches, with the cheapest item free. However, its biggest deal is for nappies, with Pampers at less than half price, at £4 from £8.40. Its own range was also ‘better than half price’ at £2, down from £4.20.

Cross-merchandising
Unlike the Co-op or Sainsbury’s, this Tesco cross-merchandises its babycare range next to DVDs and popcorn, with shampoo on the other side. On the wall opposite babycare
are medicine and other beauty products, including face cream, all under a large, well-lit ‘Health & Beauty’ sign.

Location and space 
The store dedicates 25 shelving units to babycare, all at the back of the store. When RN asks if they had any other baby food products, we were told no, because it would be confusing to customers have it placed around the whole store, as opposed to a single space.

Sainsbury’s Local

With a range to impress, the store also wins on promotions and the number of organic options  

Range
This Sainsbury’s dedicates 14 bays to babycare, despite it being a small store in a city environment. Its baby food range is predominately made up from Organix and Hip Organic foods, but it also has a wide range of kids’ treats in the same bay, such as Bear Fruit Snacks and Tilda for Kids range.

Promotions
Sainsbury’s has more items on promotion than Tesco and Co-op, and most baby snacks are on offer, with 10p to 75p off. Items on promotion are grouped together in blocks and highlighted in red so they stand out while customers are browsing. While Pampers isn’t on sale, its own-brand nappies are.

Cross-merchandising 
Opposite Sainsbury’s babycare bay is a news and magazines stand, and beside it is wider health and beauty products, such as tampons and shampoo. The most popular items, according to the sales assistant, are Organix Finger Food Rice Apple Cakes and Hipp Organic Paella with Mixed Vegetables & Chicken.

Location and space 
Unlike Tesco or Co-op, Sainsbury’s babycare range is one of the first categories consumers see when coming into store, as it is kept right at the front by the doors.

So, how do you shape up?

babycare.jpg

Award-winning store owner Eddie Poole, of Poole’s Supervalu of Moira, Northern Ireland, compares his offer to the multiples

Range
When it comes to baby food, we mainly stock Cow & Gate, from powdered milk to its wider food range. We also stock a few of their baby items, like dummies. However, our nappy range is large and is something that does really well. Pampers is the biggest-selling brand and parents tend to stick to it.

Promotions
Every area needs different promotions, so we tailor ours to suit our customers depending on the location. Our store in Moira is in a more affluent area than Dromore, where our other store is. Pampers tends to be expensive, so we have to do a lot of promotions with it in the Dromore store.

Cross-merchandising
We cross-merchandise babycare with a range of health and beauty products all on one aisle. When customers walk down, first they see all the paper goods, such as toilet paper, and then its flows into baby care, and then beauty items, like face cream.

Location and space 
We consciously keep babycare at the back of the store as I don’t think it’s an impulse purchase, but something people have purposely gone to buy. Babycare is a planned purchase, compared to, say, fresh produce, which we keep at the front.