To serve a rising generation of parents who are used to direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, eCommerce innovators are offering strollers via streamlined checkout and a business built around community. The idea is to replace the experience of going to a big-box store with linoleum floors, bright fluorescent lights and a wall with a hundred strollers. With that experience, consumers might end up purchasing a product that they knew they overpaid for, spent too much time finding and weren’t able to try in a normal environment.
Colugo Founder Ted Iobst knows that experience first-hand as a parent: He and his wife welcomed twins into the family when he was a Wharton MBA student. In terms of stroller shopping, Iobst told PYMNTS in an interview, “we knew there had to be a better way.” Iobst was also the primary caregiver for the twins, and when he went to the playground or talked with other parents at Wharton, he realized he wasn’t alone. No one was happy with the features on the market or had found a brand they were in love with that was all about fair pricing as well as authentic communication.
Iobst started Colugo, which says it offers a lightweight stroller that effortlessly folds, discreetly stores and handles steep hills, crowded sidewalks and tight corners. Through its strong community, Iobst says, the company has been able to receive product feedback and customer love immediately and directly. (It doesn’t have to wait for an annual review from a retailer.) It is able to develop an intimate one-on-one relationship with its customer base whether through a text on how to set up the stroller or how to share tips on how to use recline to maximize its napability.
The eCommerce Experience
Simplicity is the focus of the company’s experience: Iobst noted its research indicated that parents and expectant parents have plenty of decisions to make. The more the company can eliminate those decisions, the better. Parents can choose a color, add an item to their cart and check out with, say, Amazon Pay through the company’s eCommerce experience. It accepts Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit card and debit card for payments.
The company also offers unique prints, patterns and limited editions. Iobst noted that the company has sold out of every limited-edition drop it has done thus far. It also offers bundles, because the company knows that if a customer is buying a stroller, they could probably benefit from a diaper backpack and an on-the-go organizer.
If shoppers want a custom bundle, Iobst said, “we can absolutely make that happen.” The company has a link on the product page where clients can quickly text or email the customer experience team that can get back to them with a custom order. The company also offers a 100-day trial period for its products. With that ability, consumers can take them on the sidewalk, on a plane trip or anywhere in between.
The Design Philosophy
The company’s overall design philosophy, Iobst said, is “innovation through simplification.” That means the company understands what parents want — and in most cases, less is more. It also removes the unnecessary bells and whistles that drive up the price and increase the complexity of using the product.
The stroller has a simple fold that doesn’t take two hands to use so consumers can hold a child by the hand if they are in a parking lot. The idea is that consumers don’t have to scratch their heads and go on YouTube to figure it out. The company, after all, Iobst said is “all about building and instilling confidence in parents” whether from the brand messaging or product perspective. (The stroller fold is an area where parents can either feel demoralized or feel that they can take on anything.)
Colugo also aims to design with style in mind. Its design director, Rob Spalding, has a background in industrial design as well as fashion and apparel. It can be on trend with styles such as leopard prints, camo and beautiful florals. Customers can also freshen up the look of their strollers by changing the color of some of its elements. They can buy a new canopy and comfort layer, which is essentially a padded seat cover. (The metal frame and black structural layer stay the same.)
With the help of customization and a streamlined checkout experience that offers digital payment options, online innovators are aiming to reinvent stroller shopping through the DTC business model.