By Patrick Foster, writer and ecommerce expert, Ecommerce Tips

It’s a familiar scenario: Living in a dystopian hellscape with a segmented population controlled by a diabolical dictatorship. You find yourself volunteering to take your young sister’s place in a massive contest with everything on the line. Drop-shipped into an enclosed custom-built landscape, you must outwit the best of the best and become the sole survivor.

Now, imagine that instead of being drop-shipped into a terrifying wilderness, you’re drop-shipping products to customers from the Amazon jungle. And, instead of fighting for your life, you’re selling toys and games for your livelihood (Possibly a more realistic situation).

Can you draw from the adventures and resilience of Katniss Everdeen and her allies to beat your rivals to retail dominance? Yes. Should you? I don’t see why not. Got to get inspiration somewhere. (Also, spoiler alert. Obviously.)

Catch the Eye

In the world of The Hunger Games, tributes get dressed up in glorious finery to dazzle the viewing public and win their support throughout the games. They go with the themes that define their districts and their struggles. They take their notable qualities and amplify them theatrically, turning them all the way up to 11 (but that’s another franchise entirely).

Painting in bold, vivid strokes can feel over the top when you’re up close, but small subtleties that work right in front of your eyes look like nothing at all from afar. People who visit your Amazon seller page aren’t going to be carefully studying the intricacies of your copy or fact-checking every breezy claim (we barely bother checking actual news). Toys and games are about having fun and distracting from the boring parts of life, so what sense is there in being boring with your presentation?

Suppose you’re selling a common product, and your listing shows up in searches alongside ten others that look essentially the same. There’s your chance. Take a different kind of product photo— place the item in a different position or a new situation, or add some stylized elements.

When a user glances over that page of product listings—the lineup of tributes eager for attention—his or her eye should be drawn to yours first. Manage that, and you’ve won half the battle before they’ve even seen any details.

Tell a Compelling Story

After Peeta’s affections are revealed during the first The Hunger Games book (or movie, depending on your preference), Katniss runs with a feigned relationship to attract public sympathy, and it pays off in a big way. They win hearts to such an extent that their last-minute gambit of choosing to die together instead of fighting to win earns them a rule-changing reprieve.

Selling online can be entirely anonymous, but that isn’t the only way to go. You can tell a story about your business—why you sell toys and games, how you choose your products, what kind of humor you enjoy, and what you’ve learned about online retail. People empathize; they can’t help it. We’re wired to connect and be hooked by great life stories.

There’s a reason why you’ve made the choices that brought you to this point. Did you love toys growing up and never let go of that fondness? Do you have children yourself and understand the importance of having creative tools? I’d much sooner buy a toy from someone who actually likes toys than someone solely selling toys because they can be profitable.

Allow visitors some insight into your business, and they might just start to root for you to succeed. Much stranger things have happened.

Use All Your Resources

Team Katniss attracts a lot of sponsorship as a result of all the showmanship. Outside of the context of the games, a strong-willed girl like Katniss might have stubbornly refused assistance from such cruel and capricious backers, but with so much on the line, she knows to accept and use all the help she can get.

When you’re selling on Amazon, you don’t need to do everything yourself or from scratch. There are automation tools, guides, forums, and much more to make things a little easier (great sites like Kissmetrics have handy product description guides). Importantly, if you sell on Amazon and through your own store, make sure the listings are synced so you only have one set of products to handle.

Plenty of ecommerce CMS packages have Amazon integration baked in (Shopify’s inexpensive storefront creator being the best example), but those that don’t typically have extensions to allow it (Magento has the well-regarded M2E Pro extension, and should have full integration by default by the end of this year). Think of technology as Katniss’ bow—it isn’t essential for your success, but it’s definitely going make things a lot easier.

Learn From Failures

Katniss and her allies don’t exactly have a wonderful time over the course of the series. They deal with struggle, anguish, loss, heartbreak, and political upheaval, and they manage it because they roll with the punches, do what must be done, and give maximum effort.

Similarly, selling in a market as dominated by unpredictable trends as toys and games is going to have its fair share of frustrations, and you must be ready to adapt to changing requirements. Don’t stick with a losing product line out of attachment. Move ahead, and always have an eye on the horizon to see what lies ahead of you.

It’s a tough world to succeed in, but it isn’t quite at the level of fighting a to-the-death battle royale, so be optimistic. And of course, may the odds be ever in your favor.


Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips, an industry-leading ecommerce blog that shares the latest insights from the sector, spanning everything from business growth hacks, to product development. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.