Toys ‘R’ Us shocked the nation when they filed for bankruptcy in September 2017, and since then, their collapse has been making headlines. But the downfall of one of the largest toy retailers in the country could mean more business opportunities for small entrepreneurs. To accommodate the growing demand for quality toys, business owners can now apply for toy business loans that give them additional working capital.
However, larger retailers like Amazon and Walmart also benefited greatly from the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us. In order to generate more sales for your toy business, here are five action steps you can immediately implement.
1. Tap into Experiential Marketing
Experiential marketing is a growing trend that works perfectly for the gaming and toy industry. This kind of marketing strategy involves creating an emotional attachment between your customers and products through experience. For toy retailers, it simply means letting your customers play. Experiential marketing has become more popular in the past few years because it works. In fact, Forbes stated back in 2017 that experiential marketing is a rising marketing trend.
2. Employ Attentive Staff
Some of your customers need assistance when it comes to the toys they want to purchase. It’s important to instill alertness and initiative in your current and potential employees. They should be able to assist customers that seem confused and in need of assistance without hesitation. Since toy retailers mostly cater to children and families, a warm, friendly, and lively personality is also an important factor.
3. Create Loyalty Programs for Shoppers
One way to keep your customers coming back for more is to offer loyalty programs. Through the years, customer loyalty programs have proven to be winners. In fact, studies show that 62% of consumers in the United States would join a fee-based rewards program from their preferred retailer. Additionally, 47% think that paid loyalty programs are better than free versions. Keep in mind that the success of your loyalty program depends on many factors. You need to show them compelling reasons to keep coming back through the quality of the products and services you offer.
4. Find Your Niche Market
Unlike Toys ‘R’ Us, most small toy companies don’t offer a wide selection of toys. The best thing business owners can do is to leverage your specialty. It’s better to sell high-quality toys consumers can’t find elsewhere, which will make your store unique, causing it to stand out, over and above your competitors. Determine your store’s competitive advantage and highlight it.
5. Get Ahead of New Trends
With proper research, you’ll be able to see which toys and games are a hit, and which ones are a miss. There are content delivery platforms that give you the latest games and toys as soon as they’re on the market. This allows you to see which toys will be potential winners, i.e. money makers.
6. Create Interactive Videos on YouTube
Ever heard of Ryan’s Toy Reviews? As of 2017, the kid makes $11 million a year by reviewing toys. Millions of kids and parents all over the world watch Ryan and his family play. This goes to show that YouTube is a great avenue for toy retailers. Other than sending your products to YouTubers, you can even create your own channel where you can create your own shows showcasing your toys.
As years passed, YouTubers have created unique video formats. From unboxing videos, shopping hauls, to product reviews, tests, and even live streaming. These types of videos are effective because they’re highly interactive. YouTubers often ask their followers to respond to comments and questions.
7. Create an Account on Instagram
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the strategies you use on YouTube will work well on Instagram. Since Instagram is a huge network, you can use it to connect to both parents and children. One of the ways to do so is to run a toy giveaway and connect with an influencer. When Instagram influencers giveaway products to their followers, they often ask them to follow a certain account (your account) and tag their friends in the comments section. This strategy increases your follower count and generates more leads for your business.
Classic Toys of All
You don’t have to buy your kids the newest PS5 or iPad if you’re a parent. Or any other device vying for your child’s attention. Consider giving a traditional toy as a gift if you want your kids to exercise their imaginations and enhance their creativity. Here are some of the most classic toys:
1. LEGO – The largest toy manufacturer in the world, LEGO has produced action figures since its introduction in 1958. LEGO has expanded the potential of toys by enabling children to construct long-lasting buildings of different shapes and sizes from scratch. This has had a significant impact on the toy and gaming industries, particularly on younger players. Minecraft was the brainchild LEGO creator.
2. Barbie – Barbie is the world’s most famous doll for girls. Since her debut in 1959, she has held more than 150 occupations, including those of a doctor, chemist, and lawyer. She has also always led an active lifestyle, making her a decent role model for girls. Barbie was the first doll that allowed girls to imagine what they wanted to be when they grew up. She was also an early proponent of cultural diversity among Americans. The first African American friend of Barbie and the first African American Barbie both made their debuts in 1968 and 1980, respectively.
3. G.I Joe – Until Hasbro developed the G.I. Joe doll, no one believed boys would play with a doll. Joe was created as an “action figure” in the heart of the Cold War and was modeled after Government-Issued Joe, the World War II term for regular soldiers. When people became fascinated with espionage during the Cold War, Joe cleared the door for new action figures, particularly spies like the female private investigator Honey West and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Yet, his bendable frame, which enables the children to posture G.I., may have had the most significant lasting effect. Joe can do nearly anything. Although several action figures were released following Joe, G.I. Joe remained a fan favorite.
4. NERF – Parker Brothers founded the toy company Nerf, which Hasbro now owns. Most of the toys are different foam-based weapons. At the same time, other Nerf goods include balls for sports like baseball, basketball, and American football. Their dart guns, which fire ammunition made of Nerf foam, are their most well-known toys.
5. Hot Wheels – Most children have accumulated collections of cars throughout the years. American toymaker Mattel launched the Hot Wheels brand of scale model cars in 1968. Since then, numerous automakers have granted Hot Wheels licenses to create scale replicas of their vehicles, enabling the use of original design blueprints and detailing. Although Hot Wheels were initially designed for children and young adults, they have become popular with adult collectors, for whom limited edition versions are now made available.
The Best Toy Business Loans for You
Hiring employees, creating loyalty programs, and implementing experiential marketing can be quite costly. But with a toy business loan, you don’t have to worry about the costs of marketing your products. There are different types of toy business loans or funding like invoice financing and business terms loans depending on your needs and preferences. If you haven’t applied for a loan before and you don’t know where to start, you can consult a lending expert to help you figure out the ins and outs of toy business loans.
The Future of the Toy Industry
Like many other industries, the toy industry has undergone a significant transformation. For most adults, having shelves full of vibrant brings back happy childhood memories. However, at present, toy collections are now a thing of the past, and most toys feel outdated and old-fashioned. Many children have hardly given their toys a second glance, preferring to play on their brand-new iPads or PS4s. The pre-teen demographic has changed dramatically because of the rise of social media and technology. Children are maturing more quickly than in past generations, and they have a rising preference for digital goods over traditional toys.
The toy sector has been experiencing a negative trend because of technology’s abrupt rise. All the main toy businesses have started to confront significant declines in sales and demand over the previous decade. For instance, Mattel Inc., the company that makes Barbie dolls, reported a fall in net and gross sales of 14% and 15% in 2015 and 2017. Similarly, LEGO, which announced its first revenue fall in 2017, had to lay off more than 8% of its global staff because of significant decreases in sales of its essential products. 
This does not imply that the toy business is permanently over. Online retailers have always replaced traditional toy stores because of the development of technology and the internet. By entering the educational toy sector, toy producers can make a comeback. Some conventional toy stores have also tried—and succeeded—to move their operations online. One industry leader is LEGO, which has developed its customer base successfully and figured out how to sustain demand for its products in a digital environment.
Finally, children are starting to want and use more digital toys, which significantly impacted the toy industry. While many top toy manufacturers are battling to maintain sales and are facing declining revenue, this loss is not the result of a lack of demand; instead, it is the result of outdated business strategies that do not work in the digital age. Toys will always be in demand, whether they are tangible or digital. Internet sellers have mostly replaced physical toy stores; as a result, many established businesses suffer losses. The toy industry is very much alive and well, despite popular belief. Companies like LEGO have demonstrated that it is never too late to shift smoothly to the digital age.