Spielwarenmesse: Best Practice: how fashionable and trendy articles are livening up the toy trade

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Best Practice: how fashionable and trendy articles are livening up the toy trade

from Elke Brunne

What are the top-selling products in the toy trade? Some high street stores are looking for new ideas and incentives to attract customers away from online trade and into their shops. A lot of factors have to be taken into consideration before price-conscious consumers make their way to the local toy shop. This Best Practice report from the children’s department store "MuKK" in Münster/Germany describes one possible successful strategy. They are trying to attract the whole family with fashionable and trendy articles.

A lot of high street traders are currently faced with the task of generating revenue with traditional merchandise that also has a large trading margin. One big challenge is, without doubt, the high price transparency in the Internet age. In general, today's buyers are much better informed and are always looking for ways of finding the best price. At the same time, the Internet gives the customer the impression that everything is available all the time and can be ordered comfortably at home from the settee.

But if they have any questions or problems that cannot be easily answered, customers like to go to a proper shop. Many potential buyers seek advice in shops but there is no guarantee they will actually buy anything there. Given this scenario, local shops have to find ways of getting round this price pressure.
Important factors in today's price competition are mainly staff and storage costs. With a customer-oriented sales strategy combined with a well-planned and flexible product range, traders can combat the problem.

A sales strategy with fashionable and trendy articles

Adding fashionable and trendy articles to the range goes some way towards countering the bargain-hunting mentality. People have always been prepared to pay a bit more for the "feel-good" factor. If a trendy or lifestyle product catches your eye when passing and you buy it for yourself or as a present for your girlfriend/boyfriend, the question of comparing prices is quickly forgotten.

At MuKK there are very few things we would absolutely refuse to add to our product range. In practice, to avoid becoming too diversified, we interpret this as a concentration on selected themes and not an uncontrolled expansion of our stock list. If you decide to follow this strategy, we strongly recommend that you stick to this discipline, too.

In our store we have two specific directions in which we are trying to develop. We always review our procedures very critically to make sure the selected products promise sufficient margins. Then we add them to our range. When considering fashionable and trendy articles, we are clearly not arbitrarily expanding our product range, but making a targeted improvement to our earnings situation.

Strategy 1: Expand your product range thematically

One path we are taking at MuKK is to expand our existing range of products thematically. Let's take "baking" for example. It goes without saying that as a toy shop we stock toy ovens with baking tins and various toy kitchen utensils. It is relatively easy to step across the line and start systematically selling usable baking tins, kitchen utensils, cookery books, etc. And then it is not a big leap to baking mixes and stand mixers. It is amazing how many silicon baking utensils we sell these days.

Another idea, for example, is to exploit the father-son relationship in the technical department. Alongside model cars and racing cars, it is very easy to sell driving gloves, sunglasses and chronographs for father and son. As long as the Carrera racing track is not more expensive than on the Internet, additional commercial success can be achieved through the emotional parent-child relationship and the joint shopping experience. This is basically what we mean when we are talking about trendy or lifestyle products.

Many traditional toy suppliers have also recognised this development and support us in these areas. The publishers Coppenrath/Spiegelburg can be named as real pioneers and jumped on the bandwagon a long time ago. Based on the children's books "Letters from Felix" and "Princess Lilifee", the publishers systematically developed and expanded their range so that mums and dads could buy necklaces, scarves, bags and lots of other things under this brand label, too. The same goes for other brands like Moses or bb klostermann.

Strategy 2: Observe new trends

Another strategy we use when planning our range is to look for trends and sell them. The important thing here, in our opinion, is to expand our horizons and our scope of action. That does not mean just going to the most important specialised trade fairs. Equally important are in-house fairs offered by trendsetting companies for products in the "home and gifts" and "relaxation and wellness" sectors. Reading lifestyle magazines can also give you vital tips about the up-and-coming trends and colours.

If we spot a trend we try to integrate it into our product range in a variety of ways. It does not matter whether it is mugs, bags or home accessories; we are very flexible with our planning as long as the product is compatible with our basic identity as a toy shop.

Stars are really in fashion at the moment, for example. You can see stars in all shapes and colours on biscuit tins, plates, little carpets, bags and soap dispensers, to name but a few. We display these in prominent places in our shop with the hope of triggering impulse purchases. As well as setting new incentives to buy, there is also the pleasant side-effect that they create a feel-good atmosphere apart from all the Lego, Playmobil, etc.

When talking about trend articles, we should not forget licensed products, of course. Like consumers goods, these are also subject to quick fluctuations in taste. A product that was a best-seller yesterday will not necessarily generate sales tomorrow. It is important to keep a constant eye on products to make sure that they are still in line with the trend and not already a thing of the past.

Seasonal specialities offer good opportunities to vary the range

Merchandise can be adapted to suit the season quite easily. We recommend forming chains of associations and arranging your products according to themes. The baking theme we mentioned above, for example, is mainly an autumn (harvest) or winter theme (Christmas cookies). After selling products related to carnival and Easter in spring, the summer theme could be BBQs, for example.

This seasonal change of goods creates constantly new shopping experiences in the store and this is where the high street trade has its strengths and advantages over online trade. The only way to arouse curiosity and create buying incentives among customers is to make shopping an experience in contrast to the stereotype impressions of online purchases. And customers are more likely to go into a shop once again if they can look forward to something new.

How a sales strategy with fashionable and trendy articles can be successful

Fashionable and trendy articles have proven to be a must in our toyshop as part of our modern merchandise mix and provide an opportunity to expand the product range with attractive items. These points are important for success:

  1. When buying, concentrate on selected (financially) interesting areas and subjects.
  2. Observe the progress of the trend. It is better to exit early rather than follow the trend to its death.
  3. Seasonal themes offer an opportunity to change the product range and constantly create new buying incentives.
  4. Choose goods that suit your location and your customers. Not everything you like is necessarily attractive to the customer.
  5. The pricing must also be suited to the purchasing power of the local customers.

Find fashionable and trendy articles for your toy range! Many manufacturers, licenses and new products can be seen live at Spielwarenmesse® 2016. Register now and get the early bird discount!

About the author
Elke Brunne has been working in the toy industry since 1992. Today she is the managing director of MuKK where she is responsible for the product and trend selection as well as decorating the store. Mukk is one of Germany's largest toy stores which is still managed by the founders and owners.


Author of this article:

Elke Brunne, MuKK

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