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Retailer interview: Gerben Eshuis from Twinkel Kidz

Today we are sharing the story of Gerben Eshuis, Founder and Owner of Twinkel Kidz, a retail shop specialising in kidswear.
Gerben is especially curious about everything happening in the fashion and retail industry, from digitisation of wholesale buying to omnichannel marketing. This very dynamic man has assumed various positions in many different environments. This surely explains why he is constantly working on improving his business, always keeping in mind customer’s satisfaction. What challenges is he currently facing? Why did he decide to join fashionTrade and become one of our Retailer Board member? Read our interview with Gerben to find out.

Can you introduce Twinkel Kidz?

My wife and I created Twinkel Kidz 5 years ago. We now have a 150 m2 store in the center of Zwolle, our own online shop as well as listing on Bol.com. We sell mid-segment brands like Name it, Noppies or Z8 for babies, boys and girls. We really focus on creating a unique experience for our consumers. We are here to advise them but we also want them to enjoy the whole experience. In our store, we have a playground, a catwalk where kids can have fun while trying outfits but also facilities where parents can change their babies without being rushed.

Why did you decide to start Twinkel Kidz?

I could see that this kind of concept was missing. Many shops see themselves as a place where people can simply buy clothes. On the contrary, I think of a shop as a place where you can and should have a pleasant experience. Creating this kind of place has been my main motivation over the last 5 years. And customers seem to like it: they are coming back!

What triggered you to join fashionTrade?

I have a lot of experience in the retail industry. I am not only interested in my own shop, but I look at what is happening globally in the whole industry. And I can see that the kidswear market is lagging behind. The collaboration between brands and retailers can be improved a lot. There a huge gap between what is happening in the Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) environments. In the B2C world, consumers have huge expectations: free delivery in one day, free return, consistency between online and physical stores, to name but a few. And this has changed the market in a positive way. I think it’s time for the wholesale market to do the same. This would benefit everybody, retailers and brands.

‘In my opinion, FashionTrade is bringing the best B2C practices to the B2B world. The platform will improve the collaboration between brands and retailers a lot, making the wholesale processes a lot smoother.’

Why did you decide to join the fashionTrade Retailer Board?

I am generally curious about what is happening in the retail and fashion industry. And I also think that my experience and expertise can help fashionTrade develop in the right direction. I am glad that my voice can be heard!

Which feature(s) are you most excited to use in the future?

There are least 3 of them. First, the ‘connect’ feature. FashionTrade is a marketplace, so it’s a great opportunity to discover and partner with new brands. Second, I am looking forward to using the API between fashionTrade and our back-office. This will allow us to check our stock level at any time and place real-time orders whenever we need to. This will make our life much easier. 
Finally, on a more strategic level, I am also keen on having access to benchmarks and trend reports.

There is so much data out there, we just need somebody to make sense out of it and share insights in an intelligible way.

How do you see fashionTrade complementing trade shows and visits to physical showrooms?

In my opinion, trade shows are great orientation tools. You can see and touch the products, discuss trends and understand what brands are trying to achieve with new collections. But trade shows are not made to place orders: it is neither convenient nor efficient and I’d rather use fashionTrade as a buying tool.

I also think that brands will produce way more collections in the future, from 2 to 4 now to 8 to 10 tomorrow. In this context, visiting showrooms for every collection will become too time-consuming. Here again, I can see myself visiting a few showrooms twice a year and using fashionTrade the rest of the time.

What are, in your opinion, the major changes affecting the wholesale fashion industry?

The market is getting more and more polarised between big retailers, who can invest a lot in sales and marketing, and small ones who offer a unique experience. All the retailers in the middle are struggling to survive. Being average is no longer an option!

What are your biggest challenges for the months to come?

Online is definitely a big challenge for us – it now only represents 15% of our sales. I want to investigate more budget and time in sophisticated tools to drive more traffic to our site. 
Generally, I want to stay focus on our customers, making sure we keep on offering a relevant experience to each of them. 

We wish all the best to Gerben and are excited to see our partnership grow together. 

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