Couple cuts market niche with high-end child goods storeWednesday January 04 2023
The story of Peekaboo, an eCommerce platform for mother and baby products, started almost by happenstance. Adeeb Premji and his wife Haseena Premji were at pains to find high-quality products for their children.
While ordering from international e-commerce giants was an attractive option, there was a catch. It took weeks for the items to arrive, inconveniencing them.
Soon, they struck out this option.
The couple still thought there was a better option for Kenyan parents to access these products locally, without the hustle of waiting for weeks while their toddlers grew rapidly.
The challenge sparked their inspiration and their now thriving enterprise came into being. They named it Peekaboo, after the popular children’s game.
It cost them Sh50 million to acquire space and to stock up.
One year since opening at Rhaphta Square on Rhaphta Road in Nairobi, the shop has grown into a megastore that stocks about 10,000 different types of mother and baby products.
These range from feeding to nursery, toys, travel, fashion, bath and skin and school products.
“Our most popular category is travel which includes car seats, travel cots and strollers,” explains Adeeb, the founder and CEO.
In the feeding category are reputable brands such as Munchkin, Tommee Tippee, Dr Browns, and Phillips Avent. Most of these are found in developed markets.
There are also exclusive bestselling brands such as Chicco, Infantino, Little Einstein, Kinderkraft and Mothercare, besides Peekaboo’s own branded items. These target children aged between 0 and six years.
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“We stock products that encourage sensory development, self-discovery and educative play,” he adds.
The local mother and baby product industry, he says, is awash with poor quality and counterfeit goods, “making it hard for parents to differentiate between genuine products and fakes.”
Most of the fakes, he says, are in the feeding, bath and skin categories.
“Parents who understand quality are often compelled to import them, which comes with delays and even higher costs. This is frustrating for parents.”
He and his wife handpick the products themselves as though for use by their own children.
“In choosing baby products, you cannot compromise safety, quality and longevity. After all, we are trying to fill a gap that has existed in the market for long.”
Adeeb observes that there is a big lag between when a new product is launched in western markets and when it becomes available here.
“My desire is to be on the lookout for the latest launches and to avail them to our customers.”
On why is it better to operate digitally than to rely on footfall in the store, Adeeb says that with so many products on sale, potential buyers can easily filter through the categories from the mobile app or online.
“A parent who knows exactly what they need to buy simply filters through our app and buys whatever they need directly without having to go through the hassle of driving to our store,” he says, adding that e-commerce comes with product features and even videos to guide the customer.
He adds, "Kenya is a young population with over 40 million penetration of smartphones. This makes it an ideal target market. We are also able to target cities like Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret digitally.”
He notes that online presence has boosted Peekaboo’s reach in Nairobi itself and that orders come from all city neighbourhoods.
“Our current ratio for online and walk-in customers is 50:50. This reach shows Kenya is gearing for an e-commerce.”
Running this enterprise has come with lessons, he says.
“If you want to do something right it takes time. From setting up the infrastructure to choosing products, and creating the correct checks and systems. You must be patient.”
It has also taught him about appreciating his limitations, and the importance of a dedicated team.
“Some things will always be bigger than yourself. What I cannot do, I bring in those with the know-how to take care of so that I can scale up the business.”
As parents, we always want to give our children the best, from the best products to the best experiences.
What are the biggest challenges mothers encounter while shopping for products?
"As a parent to two children I have experienced the moments where the hours in a day are not enough to juggle work and family life. This is where the services that Peekaboo offers help in saving time so that we can prioritise what is important such as quality family time. The traffic in Nairobi has its challenges and having a same-day delivery service is very advantageous."
On expansion, Adeeb says Peekaboo has recently expanded its delivery network to cover the whole country. To expand its reach digitally, the company has also launched the Peekaboo mobile application, available on both Google and Apple store.
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“Starting next year, we will set up two new outlets where customers can come, touch and feel the items before making their purchase decision.”