Room to Grow is a leading online children’s retailer, which was bought by Anne Davies [now owner and director] in 2012. Offering over 1000 SKUs of children’s beds, furniture and accessories, the website has enjoyed growth of +540% since Anne took over the company. Furniture News explores the practices and philosophies behind the enterprise ...

Why visit your website?

Room to Grow was one of the first online furniture retailers to put children first. We created an offering that was all about what children need for a brilliant night’s sleep, and we’re experts in that field. Many other online retailers include children’s products as a subsection of their main offering, but we’ve stayed true to our heritage, and we believe this expertise and passion for children’s sleep is the biggest reason for parents to visit our site when they are looking to update their children’s space in the home.

How did you enter this industry?

I’d always dreamed of running my own business, and, 15 years into my sales and marketing career, I was actually the online marketing manager at Room to Grow when the business was put up for sale. I really saw the potential the business had with a new website and a product overhaul, so I decided to take the plunge, borrow the investment needed, and buy the business. 

It’s been a steep learning curve, but the business is going from strength to strength and I have no regrets about the decision I made.

Who is your ecommerce hero?

One of my all-time retail heroes is The White Company. It’s more an omnichannel example, but its offering translates brilliantly online. It is a fantastic brand with great presence and stays true to its values with everything that it does. It’s not only a great ecommerce experience, but a valuable in-store customer experience that drives loyalty as well.  

Describe a typical working day 

Where do I start?! I am very hands-on within the business and I get involved in all areas, so no two days are the same, really. Some days I’ll be spending time with the customer services team, working on how we can maintain and improve our customer experience, others I’ll be analysing results and working with our digital agency and in-house marketing teams to ensure the business continues to grow, or I could be working on ongoing product development. It’s very varied but always incredibly busy and fulfilling.

What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?

I prefer to leave the technical aspects of the website to our team of developers!  I don’t pretend to understand everything they do – I leave it to the experts.

What has been your greatest challenge to date?

I think the current climate is probably the most challenging situation we’ve seen ourselves in since I took the business over. It’s been said a thousand times, but the economic uncertainty is causing all kinds of impacts in both the supply chain, and our customer base as well. Many of our products come from Europe so we’re waiting to see the impact there, and consumer confidence has taken a knock as well. We’re seeing customers hold off from buying full room sets, but selecting individual pieces and accessories instead. 

How much do you invest in making your site more visible?

We have a month-on-month strategy to help drive traffic to the website, but we’ve also recently invested in a brand-new website as well, to help with visibility, amongst other things. 

Quite rightly, savvy shoppers who use the internet regularly are expecting faster, more informative, more responsive websites that are easy to use across several platforms, and will quickly buy from somewhere else if the user experience isn’t slick enough. We’re committed to making the changes that are necessary to help ensure the site remains in a prime position to support customers through their purchase journey and ultimately, drive sales. 

We’ve also taken this opportunity to launch our new email marketing programme. Room to Grow’s Sleep Club aims to deepen relationships with our already loyal customers through meaningful dialogue and content which keeps them engaging with the brand.

Above: Jubilee in ivory

What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop? 

It’s becoming ever more important to support your website with a physical store to allow customers to touch and feel and engage fully with the brand. It’s all about creating a memorable experience for the customer, and it is certainly an area that we are looking into for the future.

Do you have any plans to grow your business?

The launch of the new site now allows us to focus on other priorities to support it, drive traffic to it and ultimately, grow the business. Without going into too much detail, our priorities include: investing even more time in customer engagement and improving UX; and expanding our product range, with a focus on our exclusive Jubilee collection and the production of more exclusive ranges as well.

We’re also growing our social channels. This is the next big step in supporting the new site. We’ll be creating a content strategy which helps to drive traffic to the site whilst engaging customers as well, and encouraging them to keep coming back as their family grows. 

Ultimately, we’re looking to expand our channels and brand presence to create an omnichannel selling strategy. 

What advice would you offer an aspiring e-tailer?

Choose your partners very carefully! It is so important to build close partnerships with your agencies and suppliers to ensure that you are all working towards the same goal. You will always face challenges, and as your business changes it is so important to adapt quickly – having strong working partnerships will allow you to do this.