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The Case For Constantly Evolving: How Babylist Went From Registry To Retailer


After more than 12 years of building her company Babylist, founder Natalie Gordon says she never wants the baby registry and retailer to become a “legacy brand.”

“Legacy is really defined here as like losing touch with who your audience is,” Natalie explains. “It's really important for us to not become a stale legacy brand, ripe for disruption.”

In fact, Natalie points out how many times she’s had to reinvent her brand in the past decade. What started as a side project to make a baby registry turned into a media company—and now a retailer. The company is even set to open its first brick-and-mortar location later this summer.

Here are some of Natalie's tips for continually evolving your business.

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Keep your audience at the center of your products

Babylist has always been user-centric. That’s why it was foundational for the company to give users the ability to add products from any store to their baby registries. “It just started with putting the user and their needs ahead of very short-term ways to think about monetization,” Natalie says.

Customers appreciate that Babylist can help them compare prices across retailers or find products that are in stock. And the long-term thinking about monetization has helped Babylist nurture relationships with partners like Etsy.

Three baby swaddles
One of the ways Babylist added personality to its content was by describing the different stages of pregnancy by comparing the size of the baby to different retro toys. Babylist

Create content that’s useful

Babylist started creating content as a way to provide more guidance for new parents deciding which products to add to their baby registries. 

Natalie recommends business owners approach content creation with a strategy. She sees Babylist’s guides to strollers and cribs as real educational resources. “We're talking to people who are making these product decisions for the very first time. You don't even know what a diaper pail is when I'm telling you our top recommendations for diaper pails,” she says.

Natalie emphasizes that staffing for content creation makes all the difference. “We really treat it like media and we don't treat it like content marketing,” she says. “We hire people who care about this audience.”

Evolve with the products

After successfully building an online baby registry and a library of content for new parents, the company also became a retailer that sells the products it writes about. Now, Babylist works with hundreds of vendors to dropship or sell directly, on top of producing its own line.

Some legacy brands struggle to keep up with companies that are introducing new products, but because of Babylist’s unique position in the market, it’s actually helping customers discover the latest designs. “People are spending more and more per baby every year because of new product innovation, and we're able to bring those products to our audience and really explain the benefits,” Natalie says.

Babylist bottle box with five different brands of bottles
Babylist sells a gift box that lets parents try out different brands of bottles. Babylist

Say no to some good ideas

Natalie points out that reinvention is time- and resource-intensive, and sometimes that means making difficult choices. “Something that's really served us intense focus, so that's saying no to things that are fantastic ideas,” she says. “Everything you say yes to means you have to say no to like one other or five other great ideas in order to really execute that successfully.”

To learn more about Babylist’s evolution and their upcoming foray into brick-and-mortar retail, listen to Natalie’s full interview on Shopify Masters.

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This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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