Source: Pixabay

by Gwen Ottenberg, owner, Imagine That Toys

I tell my customers that it is my job to make them look good — “go ahead, take credit for the gift wrap.” (And, of course, the wrapping has my store’s name on it.) We are the experts. That is why customers choose to visit a brick-and-mortar store.

Manufacturers and sales representatives are behind the scenes helping retailers become these experts. We need “just the facts, ma’am,” as Joe Friday would say. As a retailer, I want to be more informed than my customers. These days, that is not an easy feat.

First, remember that there is more to selling than just physically having a product. Let’s assume that you have a great product and packaging to support your marketing efforts. Here are a few tips to help you get retailers to buy and sell more of your products.

  • Sales Reps: Give your representatives all of the pertinent info they need to make the sale before they meet with retailers. This includes catalogs, images, case packs, pricing, special deals, etc.
  • Catalogs: If you want to sell product, you need to have a catalog. When mailing catalogs, handing them out at events, or sending them to sales representatives, you need to include the price list. It’s useful to have catalogs and prices listed in an email, and I personally am extra excited to receive a priced catalog digitally. This benefits the sales representatives because they are able to sell that line immediately. Many companies get skipped in my January appointment when the representative doesn’t have a new catalog, a price list, or the catalog isn’t priced yet.
  • Emails: Include every single piece of information that a retailer would need to place an order, including a catalog or a link to one, an accurate price list, the opening amount, information about specials, sales representative information, etc. (Yes, every single time.) If a company piques retailers’ interest, having all of the information at their fingertips could push them to write an order right that minute.
  • Digital Assets: Sharing these with stores will guarantee that your product looks professional when it is used. This gives the manufacturer more control over how the product is portrayed. These can be used for shelf-talkers, emails, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, or YouTube videos. Put a link to a high-quality image bank in every single email that you send. These could include product shots in and out of packaging and lifestyle shots. Please use appropriately aged kids when they are playing with a toy — too young or too old will make a difference in the sale of the product.
  • Email Signatures: Make sure every single member of your team has an auto signature that has, at the bare minimum, their name, the company name, a telephone number, and a link to the company’s website. If I need to reach out, I should not have to go any further than the last email.
  • Public Relations: If you have won an award or know that you are going to be featured on TV, please make sure your retailers are aware. It is very frustrating when customers call to ask about a product that they just saw on a morning show, and we were not aware that something was going to be featured. If I have advance notice, I often stock up on an item to meet — and even exceed — demand.
  • Relationships: Build relationships with retailers who love your product. They will be your best brand ambassadors for the consumer and other retailers. Create a private Facebook group to share product tips, trends, and press releases. This is also a great place to ask for feedback.
  • Game Manufacturers: Put a quick info sheet inside the box so that when a staff member opens the product, they can quickly learn what the game is until they have time to actually play it. This will lead to faster sales!
  • Product Demos: Product demos are awesome — if they make sense. Staff will always sell more of the products that they understand well and have played with than items that just sit on a shelf. We sell what we demo!
  • Timing: Let retailers know when to expect your product in store. We see amazing products at Toy Fair New York, but we don’t always get accurate release dates. The difference between June and November is huge in retail.
  • December Sales Meeting: Provide a catalog and/or sell sheets for the upcoming year, even an ugly unfinished one, to share with buyers to take notes. Lines that do this will guarantee that they are the first-shown to buyers in January.
  • Keep It Simple: Send whatever marketing you choose to do to every customer in every order. Don’t offer an item number that a sales representative has to remember to put onto the order. You have created it; put it in our face!
  • Listen: Stores will have feedback, and that could be what takes your company or product to the next level. We are building the future of what the industry looks like.

Our customers are informed before they enter our stores. We need to work together so that we all sound like experts. Sales representatives and retailers are brand ambassadors to every single customer who we meet.

Hopefully, this insight will help retailers figure out what’s worth doing and save the manufacturers’ money, time, and sanity, all leading to more sales!

This article was originally published in the October 2020 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!