Deborah Stallings Stumm, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Bonkers Toys, spoke with the Toy Book about the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the toy industry, third-party retail challenges, and more.

The Toy Book: Third-party reselling on sites like Amazon and Walmart is becoming more common. How does this impact your relationship with consumers who buy your products?
Deborah Stallings Stumm: Third-party retailers can sometimes be beneficial by providing additional exposure for products and brands, but more frequently, they cause confusion in the marketplace. Many consumers do not realize these products are being sold by a third party and it can cause confusion and customer service challenges. Often, these third parties sell the items at a huge markup, which appears to be price gauging. When this occurs, customers feel they have been taken advantage of and often write a bad review of the product. At Bonkers Toys, we report any potentially unethical third parties to our retailers so action can be taken as required. In the end, both Bonkers Toys and the retailers want to ensure a positive experience for our customers.

TB: How did Bonkers Toys successfully cope with the shift in the retail landscape in 2020?
DSS: We pride ourselves on being ahead of the curve and seeing trends before they appear at retail. Of course, no one could have ever predicted the massive impact of the pandemic, but being on trend with how kids are consuming entertainment was instrumental in Bonkers Toys having a record year.

YouTube views and video gaming skyrocketed at the beginning of the pandemic with kids and families having to stay home. Our products are based on some of the most popular YouTube stars and gaming apps, which helped our toy sales soar. We partnered with our retailers to maximize this part of the business, as well as optimizing our marketing campaigns to direct traffic to digital sales.

TB: What do you think will be the short- and long-term impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic on the toy industry?
DSS: Despite the numerous battles we have all had to fight both personally and professionally, there is a silver lining that has emerged: efficiency. Prior to the pandemic, many hours were spent traveling to and from the office or flying to customers for meetings and presentations. I do not think anything replaces the connection of meeting face to face, however, work-from-home protocols have given us all back time that was previously spent traveling. This has allowed us to make the most of the hours we do have and maximize our productivity in a shorter period of time. I don’t think people will immediately go back to the high levels of business travel experienced prior to the pandemic. I believe we will end up in a hybrid model. I am hopeful that major trade shows and key strategy and product presentations will once again be in person, but follow-up meetings will be just as effective as video calls.

This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!