Onco: baby and toddlers products e-commerce website based on mums’ personal experience
Alice Lo has cofounded in June 2016, with her sister Connie, Onco, an e-commerce website dedicated to baby and toddlers’ goods. The products featured on Onco have been carefully selected for their quality and usefulness based on the founders’ own personal experience as mums of 5 in total. Besides, for each product category (bath, clothing accessories, safety, etc.), Onco only sells a short list of items, which are either Onco-branded or recommendations of other retailers, so parents quickly know what the best options are. Here is Alice’s entrepreneurial journey on creating an e-commerce website to help parents navigate more easily the world of baby products.
LadyPlans: What is Onco? Who is it for?
Alice Lo: Onco is an online baby goods retailer selling Onco branded and other baby and children’s goods that my sister, Connie, and I (the founders) recommend. You will find products that we feel, amongst all the other products in the same category, are the most useful or works the best. We recommend products that are suitable for mainly babies from newborn to children around pre-school age. Some items may be very affordable and some a bit more expensive but we feel they are justified for their high quality and usefulness. We fully endorse each of the products we have on our website and what’s really important to us is that we would not recommend anything that we would not use on our own children. For any products that we do not stock at Onco, we also recommend a trusted retailer who does.
LadyPlans: what does Onco mean?
Alice Lo: the name Onco was thought up from a twist of Connie’s name and her husband Khanh (or ‘On’, his Chinese name), who has been a value member of the team with his techy skills.
LadyPlans: how do you select the products featured on Onco?
Alice Lo: we really put a lot of thought and consideration into our products that we feature for Onco. A lot of our products come from personal experience with the five children between us or recommendations from trusted friends and family. We recommend products that we have used in our homes and have found useful or products that we wished we had known about. Our main criterias for choosing products for Onco is most importantly the safety of the child, quality of product, style and price. In terms of style, we look for products that is appealing for the child but also products parents would also enjoy using and having around the home. Where possible, we also aim for products that are eco and baby-friendly, plastic free alternatives, particularly in terms of what is put into our babies’ mouths is really important to us and with this in mind, we try to keep plastic to a minimal in our feeding products and recommendations.
LadyPlans: what are the best sellers? And what are your personal favourites?
Alice Lo: our best sellers are the Onco baby car mirror (shortlisted for the 2017 MadeForMum awards in the baby travel category), and the Pura Kiki bottles (the only plastic free drinks bottle that we know of).
My personal favourite Onco product is the buggy bag. A simply designed travel accessory that makes going out with the kids that little bit easier.
LadyPlans: why did you decide to launch a new online baby shop? How is Onco different from its competitors?
Alice Lo: one weekend Connie was clearing out a heap of baby things and realised that she had so many products that were unused or used very little and even bought the same type of product several times as the first one didn’t work or wasn’t practical. This was such a waste of money, space and time and she realised it would have been so helpful to have had someone (or somewhere) with experience and knowledge to tell her what’s really really good and useful. So with Khanh’s techy help, Onco was born.
Onco is different to other online baby shops because although retailers sell products, they only have on show what they stock and it may not necessarily be the best in that category. Onco is adding the personal touch to shopping as it’s a brand created by trusted parents who have experience of what is required from newborns to pre-school age with both our products and recommendations from other trusted retailers. We purposely don’t have too many recommendations or options of the same category so that a mum is not overwhelmed by choice. That’s our job. We narrow down the choice so that you know that what’s on our site is what we feel is the best. Onco also has the facility of having the most up to date price (within 3 hours) shown on our website.
LadyPlans: how big is Onco now?
Alice Lo: we are still only a team of 3, Connie, On and myself. We have 6 Onco products but over 50 variants and increasing each day with our recommendations.
LadyPlans: what are your long-term goals for Onco? What are your key projects for Onco in 2017?
Alice Lo: our long-term goals are to grow our range of Onco products and create more awareness on social media of our company. We’re on a journey towards plastic free lives for products that our children use when they’re eating and want to find a larger range of products for this.
Our 2017 goal is to create brand awareness of Onco. We are at the Babyshow in Birmingham at the NEC in May. We can’t wait to meet lots of mums and mums-to-be there and also to meet Onco mums that we’ve connected with since Onco was set up. We’re excited to showcase our Onco range as well as telling them what we do. We have some exciting new Onco products arriving this year so look forward to sharing these and of course to grow our recommendations so we cover lots more categories.
We also write blogs from potty training to helpful essential lists to help mums and dads with their littles ones from our personal experiences and recipes which we like sharing with our viewers. We also have recipes on our site – we both enjoy cooking fresh and healthy meals for our children but that’s Connie’s area.
Sharing your experience in digital
LadyPlans: what is your role at Onco? What were your previous professional experiences in digital or ecommerce?
Alice Lo: we still have quite fluid in roles in Onco so Connie and I both do a lot of similar things for the company. I am probably more business orientated and Connie more creative. Being sisters is great as we know each other so well and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so we have the best person working on the job and we are not afraid to say what we think to each other.
We both did not have any digital experience except the odd Facebook posts. Social media is something we’ve learnt and still learning. Ecommerce is another learning curve. Although we both love online shopping – and know what is a good website – we’ve learnt on the job. Khanh has been great at meeting our (high) demands for what we would like on our website.
LadyPlans: what advice would you give to young female entrepreneurs who want to launch their ecommerce website?
Alice Lo: if you have a unique idea or an idea that you feel passionately about and really believe it will add value to your market or will solve a problem – go for it! It’s a long but exciting journey. You’ll come across things you won’t know but there’s so much support out there you’ll always find an answer (from local forums to things like Google campus etc). It’s a bit of a cliche, but if you have a dream, put those thoughts into action and hard work pays off.
LadyPlans: which events or networks in the tech industry do you join on a regular basis?
Alice Lo: we regularly attend the UK Parent Tech Community meetings to network with other parents who have started up their own entreprise. It’s a great community for support of other like minded individuals and businesses. Also local forums is important to get local community support.