Convenience and e-commerce: The future of maternity


Data from Instock, WGSN’s retail analytics platform, shows an 11.5% increase in new-in maternity wear year-on-year in the UK.

The EMEA maternity market is expected to reach $5 billion by 2019 (source: Technario). E-commerce is emerging as the next big retail frontier for maternity, and as maternity specialists such as Mothercare falter, clothing retailers are stepping up to tap into this market and expanding maternity ranges online.

We explore some of the key messages for maternity below:


Cater to the considered mother’s lifestyle, rather than material needs

The average age of first time mothers has steadily increased since 1975, reaching 28.8 years old in 2016 (ONS) and signals a rise in disposable income for parents, but maternity retailers need to step up their propositions for consumers to spend it. Simply offering a range of clothing is not enough, as shoppers look to experiences and story-telling – buying into a lifestyle rather than product. It’s a change that is impacting the wider fashion market.

US maternity specialist Hatch incorporates premium priced clothing alongside beauty products designed for the woes of all new mothers (stretch marks, anti-nausea) and is perfectly positioned to target older mother’s market, as their holistic approach to maternity justifies the premium price.

This strategy is particularly relevant for multi-product retailers such as the department stores to enhance their in-store offer, and differentiate against the e-commerce players. They can bring together different elements from their broad offering (clothing, beauty, baby furniture) and communicate it via a lifestyle-driven marketing push to build a one-stop destination for parents.


Holistic experiences build communities

Taking a wholesome view on pregnancy is also crucial for solely online retailers. Without stores to physically connect customers, they need learn from maternity specialists and create authentic communities to drive demand.

Retailers should invest time in creating blog posts written with first-hand experience, incorporate maternity into online style guides and allow for comments to get a stream of conversation going – injecting inclusivity and support and making their brand the go-to place for all pregnancy needs.


Convenience is the currency, and e-commerce needs to step up

Expectant mothers need convenience, which is ideal for e-commerce players. However, easy delivery should not be the only convenience driver. Other factors such as returns, trial services and personalisation will differentiate online winners from losers.

Retailers should offer personalised boxes, based on the choices set by the customer online (e.g. Trend-led, basics, essentials, mixture) and deliver them door to door with no pressure to purchase, as seen at menswear specialist Enclothed and similarly with ASOS’ recent “Try before you Buy” scheme.

Customers have an opportunity to try sizes and styles in the comfort of their own home, reaching out to experimental, young, first-time mums. Combined with a seamless delivery service, such as Collect+ options, this will massively benefit specialists and pureplays alike.


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