No baby steps for KeaBabies

No baby steps for global business KeaBabies

Since launching in 2017, the Singapore-based maternity and baby brand has reached over two million customers worldwide. Here's how founder Jane Neo and her partner Ivan Ong have achieved this stratospheric growth.


Maternity and baby brand KeaBabies may only have launched five years ago, but the Singapore-based online business has seen stratospheric sales and growth in a short time, achieving milestone after milestone. In 2021, they reached two million customers worldwide. The eCommerce company has consistently hit revenue targets, pulling in US$20 million in sales 2020, despite the pandemic.

KeaBabies has been using WorldFirst since 2018 to pay suppliers overseas and repatriate money from the thirteen countries where their product range is sold.

How it all began

Online seller KeaBabies started like many businesses do, by identifying a gap in the market and addressing consumers’ needs. Founder Jane Neo says, “coming from a struggle to find trusted products for my baby, I wanted to create a far better experience for our customers.”

As new parents, Jane and husband Ivan Ong realised the importance of affordable, functional, high-quality products that would help others like them on their journey. Products for modern parents that were lacking in the market at the time.

“Our customers are modern mums looking to buy affordable but quality stuff for their babies,” says Ivan. Jane took on the task of research, design and product testing and KeaBabies was born. It launched with the baby wrap carrier and has since expanded into maternity productsnursery accessories and babycare.

From its inception, building trust was paramount for the couple. “We’re thinking long term. We are here to stay, so we put the satisfaction of the visitor above all.”

This means offering a one-year warranty and promising a money back guarantee. They have also created a KeaBabies community on social media that provides parenting advice, activity ideas for kids and giveaways. The brand has also won several awards in the USA, including the National Parenting Product Awards and consistently garners five-star reviews across social media and review websites.

In 2020, it received the notable ISO 9001:2015 accreditation, an international standard dedicated to Quality Management Systems (QMS) as well as GOTS certification, an internationally recognised organic textile standard.

Online sales strategy

The majority of sales come from the USA via Amazon, although the company also sells in online shops and on eCommerce platforms such as Walmart, Target, Kroger and Macy’s. Ivan attributes KeaBabies’ success to being present where customers are, whether that be eCommerce sites, wholesaling website Faire, Google, YouTube or social media.

“E-commerce really exploded,” says Ivan. “Our business doubled last year because COVID accelerated everything. We’re expanding very aggressively.”

Being on Amazon allowed them to expand into other international markets such as Canada, Germany, the UK, France and Italy, which now account for one quarter of total revenue. Last year, the company raked in US$500,000 over two days during Amazon Prime Day.

Selling during a global pandemic has its challenges, however. The biggest headache has been “the supply chain disruption, which actually causes a lot of shipment delays and supply chain logistics delay”, increasing shipping costs. Prices for shipping containers to import products from China have doubled from a year ago.

KeaBabies is overcoming these delays and costs by “planning ahead and doing more buffering for lead time for our production.” This involves “making sure that we plan everything in advance and pre-book freight containers, and having more third party warehouses in the US and over the world to help us to store backup inventory.”

How WorldFirst has helped

In the current market, volatile exchange rates and costs are the norm. One way WorldFirst mitigates costs for customers is by offering competitive exchange rates and allowing them to maximise their revenue with lower FX costs and transaction fees. For Jane and Ivan, the International Payments Account “saves us the transaction fee involved in transferring money from A to B, even transferring money to our suppliers in China, or to anybody in the world.”

The International Collections Account, too, saves them time and money. Says Ivan, “because we sell our products in many countries, there is involvement of multi currencies. WoldFirst is able to provide us with all the different virtual bank accounts for the different countries to collect our payments in different currencies all on the one platform.”

As with KeaBabies, which aims to create trust with their customers, trust with their business partners is important to Ivan. One of the reasons they chose WorldFirst for their foreign exchange requirements was because of its Singapore office presence. “[It] makes us feel that we can get hold of the WorldFirst team easier in terms of communication or any requirements that we have and they understand Singapore monetary law regulations.”

Future plans

With demand for the company’s products reaching up to 5,000 units a day on average, there’s no stopping KeaBabies. Jane and Ivan’s plans for expansion include strengthening their market share in existing regions and opening a flagship store in the USA. Further international expansion is also on the cards, although they’ve found that in Asia, “consumers’ product preferences were uniquely different from those in the US market.”

Ultimately, the couple want to create a legacy, where KeaBabies becomes a household name globally, one “that can be passed on to a trusted someone when we are no longer around.”

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Catherine Mah
Experience: 11 years in content creation and content marketing across finance & sustainability

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