Market Awareness

Millions in Toy Sales Left on the Table Over Black Friday

Black Friday toy sales featured image

Poorly executed promotional displays, combined with under-staffed retailers and low stock levels, meant that toy brands like Hasbro, Disney, and Mattel missed millions in sales over the holiday weekend.

However, Black Friday 2018 has already been deemed a success. Research reported by Bloomberg noted toy aisle traffic was in line with expectations, with those expectations a direct result of the summer shuttering of Toys ‘R’ Us stores nationwide.

Access to aisle-level insights nationally, though, suggests that opportunities abound for retailers and brands to capitalize on areas where they’ve fallen short on Black Friday. It would be naïve to not take note of these shortcomings as the upcoming Christmas season looms.

For starters, big-box retailers should focus even more of their efforts on the toy category, in particular, to improve sales this holiday season.

In-Store Experience Matters

When it comes to buying toys, according to PwC’s Total Retail Survey, “both online and in-store channels are almost equal in popularity for [the toys] category; 39 percent of global shoppers like to make their toy purchases online, while 37 percent prefer to purchase in store.”

As far as the physical store experience is concerned, the toughest challenge retailers face during peak traffic periods has always been maintaining product supply for customers.

Despite warnings that retailers may not have stocked enough inventory to meet demand this season, it appears as though out-of-stock levels surpassed expectations. In contrast to retailers like Target and Walmart, who have limited physical space allocated to housing toys specifically, Toys ‘R’ Us had enormous warehouses built to stock toys year-round, and therefore didn’t risk much when it came to stockpiling toy inventory.

The result of low inventory levels and the predictable inability for sales associates to re-stock at the pace required during peak-traffic periods meant shelves, as well as seasonal and promotional displays, suffered. Sales and brand reputations did, as well.

What Does a Poor Display Look Like to Customers?

A UC Berkeley study found that customers are six times more likely to buy a product if a point-of-purchase display highlights it. However, implementing a display is only step one. The subsequent steps include maintaining that display and ensuring customers can actually buy the product being advertised.

Russ Berrie promotional displays dominated retail locations across the US over the holiday weekend. The Russ brand, which offers soft, hand-sized animals to children of all ages, was so popular that many customers were left empty-handed when they couldn’t grab one from an aisle endcap quick enough.

Here is a look at several of the Russ displays encountered:

Empty Russ Display Caseempty Russ display case

empty Russ display caseempty Russ display case

It’s worth noting that the four displays shown above were taken at different times, across varying locations throughout the U.S.

When it Comes to In-Store, Do Low Price Points Miss Out the Most?

Small toys at low-price points necessitate store associates keep up with high sales velocities through intra-day restocking of products. As a brand, it would be great to assume resale partners are equipped with the training, resources, and inventory required to maximize sales during peak periods.

The reality is often much different, as retailer resources are stretched thin and higher-priced items win out in the merchandising race.

Here are some additional examples of low-price point toys (like the Russ displays above) that suffered:

empty display caseempty display case

empty display caseempty display case

empty display caseempty display case

empty display caseempty display case

Combatting Display Challenges

Quite possibly the worst thing that can happen during the holiday season is selling out faster than expected, and not being able to meet the demand of eager customers. While retailers can try their best at anticipating intra-day restocking requirements, the responsibility is ultimately on the brand to ensure customers can access their products.

How does a brand do this? Visibility at the shelf-level.

Ongoing and proactive visibility into shelves and merchandising displays ensures brands cannot only optimize product sales but also hold resellers accountable.

Visibility is composed of five pieces:

No. 1: Accuracy of promotional display setup.

No. 2: Expected merchandise functionality.

No. 3: Inventory availability (with restocking accounted for).

One Wiser customer reported seeing missed sales of up to $10 million annually for one product, which wasn’t replenished intra-day.

No. 4: Proactive store checks at scale, via a third (neutral) party.

Wiser has found that self-reporting by merchandisers can vary by up to 75 percent as compared to unbiased reporting.

No. 5: Real-time monitoring, and actionability or alerting.

Wiser has improved time to action when it comes to correcting displays and restocking shelves, from two weeks to two days for one customer (through on-demand supply-chain alerting, for example).

The shopping holidays this year have been successful, but store and aisle-level visibility suggest plenty still could have been left on the table.

If you’d like to learn more about ways you can employ merchandising and compliance visibility, in addition to shopper sentiment and competitive intelligence with Wiser’s “Crowd,” contact us directly.

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