How to sell to toy retail

It?s certainly not simple for inventors and new toy brands to make an impact on their own. Clare Rayner explains what they can do to get their products stocked on shelves.
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Any new toy that wants to get its product into retail needs to appreciate that they will not be alone.

Retail buyers are inundated with calls from start-ups, inventors and product designers, almost daily. To get noticed you really need a compelling reason why the retailer should invest time in seeing you. 

To achieve this you need to have a product that really stands out from the crowd, which represents a clear commercial proposition, and you need to demonstrate that you have a thorough appreciation of the retailers’ business objectives, and, how through selling your product to their customers, they will meet those objectives.

It also helps to have proven consumer demand (researched or from sales history) and a robust launch PR plan to ensure that if they put your toy on sale, you are investing in driving interested consumers to them. Your supply chain needs to be water-tight, compliant and ethical, and you also need to be very flexible with regard to terms, at least for the first retailer who is willing to take a risk on you.

That said, don’t be disheartened. Retailers are constantly seeking high quality products from credible suppliers that can add the ‘wow’ factor to their ranges, or help them increase their profitability.

Now more than ever retailers will be eager to work with brands which can help them to secure new customers and increased sales. Of course they will be cautious too; in a fragile economy people aren’t keen to take risks.

For instance, if you have proven sales from your own website or other channels, it will back up your claims about consumer demand more than any theoretical research. It is that kind of evidence that will help a cautious buyer to look past the size of your business and take you more seriously.

Finally, in the toy industry particularly, I can’t stress enough the importance of safety. You should expect to have every step of your manufacturing processes and supply chain scrutinized, as products that come into contact with children can be extremely sensitive.

If a retailer listed your product and it failed, or caused harm, the consumers would consider that to be the retailer’s failure to sell safe goods.

The negative PR is a major risk to them so they won’t cut any corners.

As the news about the horse meat in beef burgers proved earlier this year, it is not the supplier or manufacturer who gets the bad name, it’s the retailer.

Be mindful of this and be rigorous in ensuring 100 per cent product integrity, from source to shelf.

Good luck in selling to retail, and, if you would like to receive 52 free weekly tips based on my 12-part-plan from How to Sell to Retail, you can sign up via

About the author

Claire Raynor is a retail expert, mentor, author and speaker. Her new book, How To Sell To Retail, is out now. Contact 01727 238890 or visit

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