CHATTING WITH THE INDUSTRY We offer complementary gift-wrapping, an easy return policy, and a birthday registry program, which makes it simple for them to get to a birthday party fast. We have many of the same customers in the store every Saturday headed to another birthday party. Brown: Not only do we have toys and gifts you can’t find anywhere else, but my staff truly helps to create a fun and exciting atmosphere. It’s not unusual to see them on the floor playing with a child or taking something apart to show a customer how it works. One staff member had a child come in so she could sign her yearbook! Our community is important to us. I love thinking about all the lucky kids that get to grow up coming into such a magical place. We aren›t pushy salespeople; we want you to leave with the perfect gift for whomever you are shopping for. That really makes people want to come back.
sells a product better than an in-store demo. As such, we provide free demo units for all new products and half-price demos for items in our backlist catalog. In keeping with the request from specialty retailers for ideas to make their store a desired destination, we provide materials—and in some cases, actual volunteers—to seamlessly run in-store game days, play days, and hands-on learning events. We just released our latest play day kit, Detective Science, which allows up to 30 children to solve a mock crime in the store via a series of forensic investigations. Fisher: Our overall strategy for the specialty market is twofold: We offer products and
What is your distribution strategy for the specialty market? Folkmanis: To continue doing what we’ve been doing for the past 40 years—give great individualized and personal customer service; offer a unique and quality product; and conduct outreach through trade shows, special events, trade publications, and social media. Quartin: Our distribution strategy can be summed up in one word: frictionless. First and foremost, we have a passionate and caring customer service team that only knows how to say yes, and an incredibly knowledgeable tech support department to answer questions and solve problems in a timely and professional manner. Furthermore, this year we announced a very aggressive specials program for ASTRA member retailers, providing free freight at reasonable levels to ensure high in-stock rates, as well as strong discounts to help with margins. We also understand that new products and categories can be met with hesitancy. To assuage these worries, we offer a low risk option with our “out with the old, in with the new” program that allows eligible retailers to feel comfortable trying out something new. In addition, we know that nothing
32 THE TOY BOOK | MAY/JUNE 2016 | TOYBOOK.COM
Big City Toys, Mobile, Ala.
programs that benefit retailers’ bottom lines, and also work to drive business through their doors. We offer lower order minimums for freight discounts for ASTRA members, very low product quantity minimums for trying out new items, and highly attractive packaging and point-of-purchase displays that help sell the products. We also focus on a wide range of retail price points and product categories to appeal to as many consumers as possible. To drive business at retail, we are partnered with Shopatron to channel consumer orders from our website directly to retailers who are located in that consumer’s local
area. This gives the retailer the opportunity to establish a new relationship with a consumer. We also maintain a heavy social media presence to build awareness with consumers. Our products are typically multiple award winners, and have high product quality and play value. And on top of all that, our retail pricing strategy is designed to maximize our products’ perceived value by the consumer. How do you compete with growing online/mobile sales? Osborne: The opportunity online shopping provides is an opportunity to restructure our current business model. A CRM model provides a platform for reviewing what is and is not working for our business, what opportunities exist (digitally), and the development of targeted strategies. Recent toy industry statistics show growing percentages of specialty customers shopping online due to selection, price, and convenience. What opportunity does this provide the specialty toy retailer? What touch points do we have to gather data from the customer, share information with the customer, and keep the relationship growing? What will each of our stores offer our customers in store and online? How will this newly developing digital world affect our marketing strategies and where we place our marketing dollars (staff and strategies)? These are all questions specialty store owners are addressing currently or in the very near future. At Wonder Works, we are currently surrounding ourselves with experts in the CRM, digital, and e-commerce fields. CRM is being implemented, and marketing dollars, staffing, promotions, and advertising are being adjusted accordingly. Strategies will be implemented and optimized based on analytics. Content for our online store will also be altered to reflect our store feel and in-store shopping experience more. Clark: I have an online site, first of all. Anyone can shop our store in real-time with real-time inventory levels since it is tied to our POS. They can create wish lists or just browse at 11 p.m. (when I suspect most moms like me are shopping!).
Many of us are traveling to Denver for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA’s) Marketplace & Academy trade show, and in...