Spielwarenmesse: How to permanently boost commercial relationships

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Kontakt von Geschäftsleuten abgebildet als Schatten. Im Hintergrund ist eine Weltkarte.
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19. December 2017 / Market

How to permanently boost commercial relationships

from Eva Stemmer und Jörg Meister

Changes in the retail trade present a new challenge to everyone involved and put commercial relationships to the test. Once interests shift, or multiple players are involved, existing systems start to shake. Just as for a relationship between two people, openness and honesty are requisites in meeting one’s counterpart at eye level.

Changing retail landscape

The growing trend in online business opens up global opportunities for B2B and B2C trading. It infiltrates business relationships that took trust to grow over many years – especially in brick and mortar retailing. Multi-national retailers join the playing field as new members in a national commercial network; trading agencies battle it out on the internet through pricing; producers come into direct contact with consumers via retail platforms, circumventing all trading partners while pocketing the full margin.

Into the future with empathy

What are the constants when the entire system seems to be undergoing change? Everyone involved continues to be in the same boat and needs to circumnavigate the same cliffs. Each player focuses on their individual advantages and skills and wishes to make their clientele – be it retailer or shopper – happy with attractive products. The awareness of seeing one’s customers as a partner for whom one wants to be attractive is thus the essence of it all. However, working on being mutually attractive requires constant work on oneself, as well as on the relationship. The key to this is empathy. Only those who are open to the concerns and difficulties of their partner, who are willing to tackle these issues together, will maintain the relationship.

Working as one

Manufacturers, trading agencies and retailers respect one another while seeking profitable and convincing paths to the consumer. And even an allowance for promotional expenses or the respective discounts and payment deadlines are measures that aim to help reinforce the structure. Vice versa, retailers are responsible towards their trading partners as well: Their advice and placement decisions, marketing campaigns and promotions decide which articles turn around quickly. Consumer feedback is a crucial variable when it comes to finetuning the product offer.

Creating new concepts, together

In the long run, it does not make sense for manufacturers and commercial enterprises to “squeeze products onto shelves”; nor does it make sense to insist exclusively on the attractiveness of selling prices and margins for the retail trade in the long run. Naturally, everyone wants their fair piece of the pie. But if the winner is always the seller with the biggest margin, retail selections quickly become monotonous and boring. This quickly exhausts manufacturers and retail partners who are unable to pursue an aggressive pricing policy. They are ousted from the shelves and thus, from people’s awareness.

Modern shopfitting has turned the Peggy Diggledey shop into a small maritime theme park.
Modern shopfitting has turned the Peggy Diggledey shop into a small maritime theme park.

A long-term win/win strategy implies shaping exciting, new and convincing concepts together – concepts that generate and tie customers. This creates elaborate shop designs and interiors through cooperation. Shops become small theme parks, and the point of sale becomes a point of emotion. In Bramfeld, a slide which features the Olchis, characters from a popular children’s book series of the same name, additionally attracts children into the two-storey shop of Nils and Julia Hartfelder. It is the result of a cooperation with the Oetinger publishing group.

And Nina Claus, managing director of the Peggy Diggledey toy store, can feel the upwind from the maritime design of the cashier zone and the shop fitting components created in cooperation with toy manufacturer Gollnest&Kiesel: “We are thrilled about manufacturers like, for example, Gollnest&Kiesel. They appreciate the relevance of specialist retailers for the entire toy industry and within the scope of their possibilities, they support this business.”

Shaping the future, with courage

It is possible that new structures are required to live up to changed market situations. But then again, all it may take is some fresh ideas, courage and mutual openness to try things that nobody has had the courage to try before. Of course, mistakes happen when taking new paths but when partners allow for this, they can learn from this – together. After all, success requires courage. And action. Who better to do this than the retail trade?


The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.

Tips and know-how for the toy industry: Visit the Toy Business Forum at the Spielwarenmesse® 2018! Experts will present you with current market developments in the toy industry as well as the latest trends in retail. Learn more about the Toy Business Forum.

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