Made in Baby: little Ruthenian Thumb turned web ogre

How did a small online baby products store become number one on the web in the very busy birthing and toddler market? A look back at an Aveyron success story.

Made in Baby is the beautiful story of Stéphanie, daughter of a high official and granddaughter of merchants, and Alexandre Guibert, son of farmers living in Limayrac near Baraqueville. The couple met on the benches of HEC prep class to attend senior business school. After graduating, Stéphanie specialized in marketing and trading for purchasing groups, while Alexandre became a chartered accountant in Marseille.

“When we found out we were welcoming our first child, we went to a nursery in the 9th arrondissement, says Alexandre Guibert. When I found out that the only green space was a tiny square of artificial grass, it was an electric shock. We decided to come and settle in Aveyron to have a better quality of life.” This new environment seems to suit the growing family. “Our three children are 11 months apart. We received many birth gifts, some of which were duplicates. One evening we put a stuffed animal on Ebay. It sold out in less than two minutes!” That’s all it took for Stéphanie, who has a penchant for entrepreneurship and a desire to start her own business, to take the plunge and start marketing baby products online.

IT and home logistics

In 2007, Lulilo was born in a nod to Lucas, Elisa and Laura, the couple’s first three children. “We started with the computer on the kitchen table, hired three people and expanded the garage twice,” remembers Alexandre Guibert with a smile. In 2011, the couple decided to build a 1,600 m² building in the Bourran district with a logistics area for storing products and a shop. “We didn’t want to oppose digital to retail. It was important to us to have a physical sales area, because nothing replaces contact with the customer and is a good thermometer.” At the same time, the small company opens accounts on marketplaces (Amazon, Cdiscount, La Redoute, etc.) as a specialized reseller. With a leading position and selective sales products, Made in Bébé is quickly becoming the market leader in this niche.

The company made two founding decisions: to internalize all computer code with an in-house ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and a team that developed all the applications supported by the brand’s website. The internalization of all logistics as well, to have control over the entire supply chain, because “In order to perform well, you have to be able to cover the last kilometer”, assures Alexandre Guibert.

resilience and innovation

“Today, 10% of sales in the childcare product market are made digitally, and that number continues to grow. It seems it has always existed, but online sales only have twelve years. A new page in commerce is being written.” Financial crisis of 2008, introduction of free shipping by the giant Amazon in 2011, Made in Baby recovers at every stage. “From 225 websites referenced at the Inpi (National Institute of Industrial Property, ed.). In our industry when we started, there are fewer than five left today. Skimming was by disappearance or by concentration.”

After juggling between his position at Crédit Agricole Nord Midi-Pyrénées during the week and Made in Baby at the weekend, Alexandre Guibert resigned in 2016 to devote himself fully to his wife’s business. The following year, the couple reintroduced people to their relationships by working on animation, highlighting the brand’s history and improving the descriptions of their products. A worthwhile investment, because 99.8% of customers do some research online before making a purchase.

recovery and development

In 2020, it’s the Holy Grail: Made in Baby ranks first among e-commerce childcare sites on Capital’s list. That first place propelled us into the light, said Alexandre Guibert. The initial containment that followed was an incredible accelerator. We’ve seen the CSP+ birth lists (most popular socio-professional categories, editor’s note) and by setting up the two eights 7 days a week for a month we held the load and managed to meet all the requirements. Made in Bébé took the opportunity to set up a toll-free number and hired six full-time employees to take calls, 40% of which were commercial inquiries. Enough to reinforce this positive spiral: In the 2020 financial year, the company’s turnover rose from 9 to 17 million euros.

In February 2021, Made in Bébé’s main competitor, the H3M group, which owns notably and 140 La Compagnie des Petits stores in France and Belgium, will be placed under receivership. At the end of May, the Guiberts submitted a takeover bid accepted by the commercial court. They take over the website, three branches in Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Albi and a marketing, sales and IT office in Boulogne-sur-Mer as well as 26 employees.

The success story will continue in 2022 with the relocation of the Bourran store (300 m²) to the Moutiers district in place of the former Intersport (1,200 m²). At the same time, given the tightness of the current offices, a building permit was requested for the construction of the future headquarters of the Lulilo Group (Allobébé, Made in Bébé and Papayaa) in Malan. A brand new building with around 6,000 m² including offices, photo and video studio for influencers and 4.0 logistics hub with digitized warehouse park is to be delivered in the second half of 2023.

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