Tag Archives: find toy distributor

How To Find & Secure Effective Distributors For Toys & Games

How To Find & Secure Effective Distributors For Toys & Games

The area where we are asked for help most often from toy & game companies is to help them speak to & close distribution deals with toy & game distributors in more markets outside their home markets. Over time we have developed several ways of increasing the chances of success for our clients in finding productive and mutually beneficial relationships with distributors:

  1. Trade Show attendance is the best & biggest way to meet new distributors

Virtual connections can lead to good results, but you can never meet face to face meeting. For this trade shows are a critical part of the process of finding and building relationships with toy distributors or board game distributors. Clearly this approach is not as viable during the Covid pandemic, but nevertheless the moment it is viable again it will come back to the fore as a primary method of meeting and recruiting new distributors.

  1. Understand the business model of the distributor

Being a distributor is a tough business. Distributors take significant inventory risk to run their business, and a few bad product line selections can seriously constrain cashflow, therefore distributors are equally if not more risk averse than the retailers they sell to. In order to reduce the risk of anyone product line failing, they tend to have a broad and diversified product line, and that brings in the biggest challenges with using distributors to get your product to market – FOCUS, if they put little focus into selling and pushing your product line your sales will disappoint. It is really important to understand this, because having a distributor and having a focused and effective distributor for your product line can be different things.

  1. Understand the marketplace

There are two elements of this: firstly, there is the local market situation in terms of retail structure, product culture, consumer preferences and other localised operating parameters. For instance, Germany has a very decentralised retail market, whereas France has a comparatively centralised retail buying structure. Therefore, you need to understand the differences to appreciate which distributor is going to have the best chance of being successful in the market.

Secondly, it is important to be aware of the general situation in the marketplace. In particular, product proliferation is a considerable challenge in trying to secure distribution for toys and board games. There are literally millions of products out there for distributors to chose from, and because they only have so much capacity, so much cashflow to fund stock purchases and so much time in front of each buyer, they will typically turn away many more product lines than they chose to distribute. This changes the balance of power somewhat in terms of negotiating and finalising a deal. In effect, it is a buyers’ market for distributors, they have considerable choice, and therefore the sales process and relationships should not be taken lightly.

  1. Build relationships with people

Building relationships with all your contacts at every distributor you want to work with can only assist your efforts. Aside from it being a source of great pleasure and warmth to build friendships around the world over time (and often over a beer or two!), in work terms it helps if you have god relationships with people you are working with. Sometimes difficult situations arise, and it is usually easier to work through challenges with people you already know and like.

But also, the better your relationship with your distributors the more they will share the details and challenges of selling your product in your market, which should lead to both of you having a better chance of success in each market.

  1. Distribute your distributors product into your home country

One really effective way to bind yourself closer to your distributors is to help them to sell their products into your own market. Most distributors will have at least a few product lines that they themselves have developed or have exclusive distribution for. By helping them to sell more of their products, you quite often build a stronger relationship and then their focus on your products tends to become stronger because they will feel a reciprocal obligation.

 

We run a Consultancy business for toy companies. We work with major toy companies through to start ups and one person bands. For more information on how we help toy companies grow their distribution around the world: https://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/blog/toy-co-growth-booster-program/

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Toy Export Sales – The Formula For Progress

TOY EXPORT SALES – THE FORMULA FOR PROGRESS

If you analyse the global toy industry, once you get past the top few toy companies, who tend to have subsidiaries in any market/region worth the effort, you find an industry whereby the vast majority toy sales are made on a domestic/export split. In other words, toy companies will tend to be very well established with leading toy retailers in their home market, but then will tend to work with distributors in other countries.

If there was a formula for successful toy export business it would be something like this:

Time/Persistence x Legwork x Quality of product x Quality and depth of relationships x Selling ability/focus

Normally, it takes time to establish a full network of distributors. There are so many companies, brands and products to choose from that even if you have something really good, it will take years to establish a full global distribution network. The number one failure factor I have seen having consulted with many companies on how to grow their international sales is false expectations and budgeting of the likely rate of progress. It doesn’t usually work very quickly. OK, you may be able to find a handful of examples where something went global quite quickly, but for every globally distributed product that did it quickly there are at least 1,000 which did it typically i.e. slowly, in fact, a 3 to 5 year build is typical.

At the time of writing, we have helped companies create new distribution arrangements into the following countries: USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, UK, Eire, Benelux, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Eastern Europe, Middle East, South Africa, HK, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea – oh, and in case we forget – Liechtenstein! There are probably others we forgot, but in all these cases, the prevailing trend was TIME, it took time! Maybe around 5% of these markets were entered within 1 or 2 meetings as there was such an obvious fit between the two companies & the products were an obvious opportunity. But for 95% of the markets/projects, it took multiple meetings, and took longer than any of us expected/wanted!

The second factor which goes along with time is ‘leg work’ or ‘grind’, call it what you will – doing all the shows, taking a few more meetings than the other guy, following up just one more time on that unanswered call/email etc.

Clearly you also need a good product, but that should go without saying. To have any chance of competing in a world with millions of individual toy products, you had better have something that compares well – the two golden questions to ask in development of products is this: a). why should any distributor/retailer put this product on the shelf/online store vs all the thousands they get to choose from and b). why would a consumer choose ot buy your product over the millions of others they could choose from?

Clearly the capability of the sales person and their focus on the business is a key factor, although if you speak to the most successful sales people they will usually tell you there is no real secret, just hard work and persistence, but these factors develop quality relationships which in the end becomes a major factor in success. If you don’t have those relationships yet, you can always use the services of consultants and/or reps to try to get to more markets more quickly. Over time, that is the only accelerating factor we have seen work time and time again, although that is to be expected as that is a key type of project we work on!

As we get towards the start of toy fair season, everybody is looking for a good 2019, and a quick fix to sales for the next cycle, but it’s normally good to remember that we’re (most of us) in this game for the long run, and the relationships and distribution networks you build today should still be there for tomorrow if you nurture them and manage them properly. So sometimes we mistake quick progress with success, when actually the real success element is long term sustainability – and this takes time to build!

 

 

We recently launched a new brand and product management service. Our small team of highly qualified, experienced toy people are now working with toy companies on a project basis to support them where they need flexible resources. Part of this service is outsourced Export Sales Management. If you need help to boost your export sales, you can find out more here: http://www.kidsbrandinsight.com/services/