Emerce Fashion: ‘For Koeka, physical retail is indispensable’

Since its founding in 1998, the baby clothing brand Koeka has still been located in a converted farm in the center of Bussum. But the warehouse moved to Hoofddorp a long time ago. “Big trucks that had to stop this narrow street, it just couldn’t be done anymore,” says e-commerce manager Nick de Haas at the conference table. He will soon be speaking at Emerce Fashion.

Nick is the son of Margareth de Haas, who co-founded Koeka with Jeannette Kraaijeveld. The name comes from Margareth’s nephew, who as a baby was completely devoted to the pacifier, which he lovingly called ‘Koeka’. That was the inspiration for the first Koeka product: the flower-shaped pacifier with loop. A very practical design, because the loop makes it easy to attach the teat to the cloth, so that the teat does not get lost quickly.

The collection now includes more than 700 products and is based on everything to do with sleep and care for babies and young children. From the start, the characteristic terrycloth products such as the pacifier cloth, the shawl with bag and the changing table cover with a loose cloth were part of the offer. De Haas: “We are priced higher than the competition, but we also deliver quality. The products last a very long time. Sometimes people recycle our products ten years after they were bought.”

An important characteristic of Koeka is that the collection is ‘never sold out’. This means that these products are always in stock and can therefore be delivered quickly. This permanent collection is continuously expanded with new products and colors. In addition, Koeka designs a varying summer and winter collection every year.

Koeka has more than 500 sales points in the Netherlands and internationally. Koeka is sold in Belgium, Germany, France, England, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, South Korea, Canada and Kuwait.

Nick de Haas started at the bottom of the ladder: as a box packer for the webshop founded in 2012. Through his business and marketing studies, he began to get more and more involved in the overall business operation, and since 2018 he has been in charge of the online activities.

The target group is broad, after all children are born every day, but also limited: “People don’t stay customers for long,” says De Haas. “Two years after the birth of their child, they no longer need our products.” The purchase often takes place during pregnancy, but De Haas wants to get more revenue from targeted marketing. “We also have specific products for the pram, so we need to be able to predict when the child will go out for the first time. These are things we want to develop further in the near future.”

Good information for parents is important, “especially with the first child, people often don’t know what to buy,” says De Haas. This is also the reason why cooperation with the physical retail trade is important. “Sixty percent of our revenue still comes from the physical channel. We will not launch our own showrooms for the time being because our products are often bought in combination with other goods.”

Online sales have become more and more important over the years. “Initially there was a lot of resistance from the retailers, they saw it as a threat. But now many of our partners have their own webshops. Our products have an emotional value. Customers like to see our products up close, which is why we also refer online in the webshop to nearby dealers.”

In recent years, Koeka has also sold through online marketplaces, of which Amazon, bol.com and Wehkamp are the most important. De Haas sees the marketplaces as a future stepping stone to international markets. “We used to start with physical stores through local agents, but now it seems more logical to open markets online first.”

Emerce Fashion will be held on September 22 at the Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam. Tickets are available here.

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