Shopify Plus

Het land van Ooit

Online sales of baby store Het land Van Ooit skyrocket thanks to Radikal and Shopify Plus: the full story

We need to go back in time more than two decades to trace the birth of nursery store Het land van Ooit: in 1997, the enterprising Rita Sels started a small family business in her home town of Boom in Belgium. The store quickly grew into a thriving specialty business and in 2010 moved to Kontich, a strategic and easily accessible base between Antwerp and Mechelen. In 2021, Het land van Ooit is no longer a small family business: not only has the team of sons and daughters been expanded with some thirty enthusiastic and equally ambitious professionals, the reputation of the baby and children’s store has spread far beyond the provincial borders.

“Customer experience is one of the determining factors in the success of Het land van Ooit,” says Dieter Ceulemans, who became the head of sales and marketing at the family business in January of last year. “Anyone who has already stepped into our store knows what I mean. Het land van Ooit is a world where carefully selected nursery and children’s products and style-conscious parents-to-be find each other. Our range includes big brands and small brands, but each product is unique and has great design value. Anyone who enters our store should really experience the beauty of our collections. We want to inspire future parents and make them feel that their love for stylish products is perfectly compatible with having small children. That’s why we put a lot of effort in the display of our products and spend a lot of time perfecting the look & feel of our store. Everything must be visually appealing to allow our customers to imagine how it might look like in their homes.”

Digitally not ready for the roaring twenties

This particular focus on customer experience is what made Het land van Ooit consider switching to a different digital platform last year. “Digitally speaking, we simply weren’t ready for 20-21,” Ceulemans explains. “We were not strong enough. The shopping experience on which we pride ourselves in our store was not at all reflected online. We had failed to reproduce this unique physical experience in our e-commerce platform. This realisation prompted us to take a new path in our digital journey in February-March 2020.” The business analysis quickly showed that the old custom-made e-commerce platform had to be swapped for a Shopify Plus account offering a much wider range of options. Following an invitation to tender, Het land van Ooit discovered Radikal.

More than a quotation

“The moment I received all the tenders, I already felt that Radikal was the best partner,” explains Ceulemans. “Theirs was different. It was not just a quotation. They had delved into our business more deeply and were already making suggestions before we officially started working together. This gut feeling was immediately confirmed during our first meeting. The Radikal people really listened to our needs and started a dialogue with us right away. The seed to turn this partnership into something beautiful was there from the start.”

Karel Cardinaels, managing partner at Radikal, also noticed that the feeling was mutual from the outset. “We realised that Het land van Ooit was not just looking for the expertise to build a new online shop. The company also needed good, sound advice. While they were very keen to improve all kind of things, they did not know 100% what to expect. On the one hand, this meant that it was all the more important that we should explore all options together with them, and on the other, it also made things even more challenging for us. This allowed us to make very clear proposals based on our expertise and experience to improve the website in the short and long term.”

A step-by-step revamping process

Radikal and Het land van Ooit decided to implement the changes in different stages. “Actually, there was no time to lose,” recounts Raf Vervink, managing partner at Radikal. “The existing e-commerce platform offered far too few options for what Het Land van Ooit needed. The first challenge was therefore to get a brand-new shop online as quickly as possible, which would be both visually attractive and so user-friendly that all visitors could easily find what they were looking for.”

Phase 1: 440% sales boost

Phase 1 of the project was completed two months later and the new digital sales platform up and running. “The new Shopify website was launched just before November 11 and we are frankly bowled over by the sales results,” admits Ceulemans. “We witnessed a 440% increase in our online sales during that first month compared to November the year before. Admittedly, high-street shops were closed at the time due to the pandemic and online sales therefore had become the norm, but the spectacular rise just kept going once lockdown restrictions were lifted. Even after the stores reopened, we achieved similar figures: in January and February 2021, our sales rose by 298% and 444% respectively, compared to the same months last year. Over a four-month period, our average sales boost has been 437%. We never dreamt that it would be such a great success.”

Although the company was astonished by the spectacular results, Het land van Ooit was of course expecting the revamped sales environment to boost sales. While the former platform was very limited in terms of possibilities, thanks to the Shopify Plus account, the sky is almost the limit. “It is now much easier to implement sales strategies online and to present our products in a visually appealing way. We have the option to add photos and videos, something we can do ourselves, by the way. We don’t have to ask Radikal every time. The system is flexible. We also have a lot more insights into our online sales. Before we switched to Shopify, we were only able to see the sales. Now, thanks to the Google Analytics integration, we have access to many more parameters. For example, we found out that the number of visitors has not increased spectacularly since the switch, but that shoppers now tend to buy more items when they visit our website. Since November, while visitor numbers have risen by about 4% monthly, the sales increase is 100 times higher.”

437% increase in sales
Online sales after 4 months

4% more visitors
Monthly increase in visitor number since november 2020

+ 617%
Sales through welcome e-mail after 1 month

User friendly = friendly user

“That too has to do with the innovations brought by Shopify,” says Cardinaels. “The online shop of Het land van Ooit has become so much more user-friendly. Shoppers find their way around the wide range of products much faster. The new search function allows them to find what they are looking for right away. Shopify’s internal functions also improve SEO in order to attract potential customers in a far more targeted way. And for those who find what they are looking for, paying has of course become a lot easier with the built-in payment module, which is secure and user-friendly.”

The figures were not the only positive news to follow the launch of the new web shop. Het land van Ooit also received great praise from online customers. “Before the launch of the new website and the new branding, we had already created a buzz on our social media channels. There was a lot of feedback in this respect. We have received a lot of nice comments concerning our new website. And customers regularly tell us that they find shopping on our new website a much more enjoyable experience.”


Hanne Detail via Instagram

A lot of work behind the scenes

The fact that the rebranding and the new site are a success does not mean that the process was a walk in the park. A lot of work had to be done behind the scenes to keep the new environment running smoothly. “For starters, we had to make Shopify communicate with Noah,” says Vervink. “Noah is the existing ERP system on which the old web shop was based and a software package that was developed specifically for nursery shops. However, it had never been linked to Shopify, which meant we had to figure everything out. What is needed? Who does what? How do we do this?”

“In the end, everything went smoothly and we didn’t face any problems when we went live. That is also one of our USPs. On the one hand, we are experts at what we do. And on the other, Shopify is a reliable tool which is perfect when it comes to testing everything before launch.”

Phase 2: baby registries

Actually, both partners knew beforehand that the first phase – which focused on increasing sales of individual items – was actually the easiest stage, despite the time pressure. The hard work would take place later, in a second phase dedicated to setting up the baby registries. Since much of Het land van Ooit’s sales come from baby registry lists, the launch of the baby registry app is expected to have a much greater impact on the business than the improvements achieved in phase 1. Unfortunately, the whole process is more complex than it seems and many variables have to be taken into account.

A complex process with many variables

“The difficult thing about the baby registry app is creating the list, taking all variables into account,” adds Ceulemans. “Who bought the item? Which items take priority? Will the item come with a message? Where is the selected product stored? Will the buyer pick up the gift or will the future parents do it? The system has to take all those parameters into account in order to always retrieve the correct information from Noah. A very complex process, especially with regard to reservation and storage, but the Radikal team is extremely helpful in finding solutions. Not only do they have the know-how and experience to tackle such issues, they also have the necessary empathy to make this project a success. This may have been Radikal’s greatest added value: their ability to put themselves in our shoes and to leverage their expertise on that basis. Such proactive thinking was crucial to the success of this project. Excellent collaboration, in other words.”

“Phase 2 is almost complete. We hope to have the baby registries online in the coming weeks to allow future parents to customise it much more online. We’ve noticed that there is an increasing demand for this. At first, they will still need to create the registry in the store, but in the longer term – let’s call that phase 3 – they will simply create a baby registry online. The fact that our customers are increasingly coming from far and wide is another incentive to do that.”

“This next phase also promises to be quite a challenge. Creating a baby registry requires a lot of operations. A complicated process which will need to be based on a clear structure and contain the right built-in thresholds. We therefore have to think about all that very carefully, since we don’t want to make hasty decisions. Naturally, we want to grow and improve, but we want to do that in an organic way, always focusing on quality.”

You could say that they have their work cut out for them. To be continued…

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