From Toys R Us to Walmart, Target and even Amazon, the toy niche is filled with big names and bigger budgets, and small toy stores and gift shops often struggle to compete. Surviving when you're competing with companies hudnreds of times larger than your own might seem daunting, but small business toy stores have a lot to offer, and the only thing you have to do is figure out what your unique selling points are and market them. Small toy stores might not have the big budget, the unlimited supply of the latest toys, or unending rows of toys, but you can take that and sell it as an advantage because it often is.
You can use the following tips to change your perspective so you can start marketing your business to appeal to consumers looking for small business.
When most of us think marketing we consider the hundred thousand and million dollar budgets of big corporations, TV commercials, billboard ads, and viral marketing stunts. However, while big businesses can and do win on a traditional playing field where budget is the only barrier between you and exposure, the Internet levels the playing field. Digital tools icnluding social media and search engine optimization allow small toy stores to compete with big brands, with a small business budget.
How? A website is a relatively low-cost investment that will allow you to use search engine optimization to come up in localized search for toys and toy stores. Many larger brands don't actually have the time or the budget to optimize for individual areas, neighborhoods, and suburbs. If you're offering toys in one area, that's likely what you specialize in, which means that you can capture a large percentage of potential customers looking for local toy stores. Importantly, many parents between 18 and 35 actually prefer smaller brands because they can connect with them.
Social media also allows you to connect directly with your consumers, share your products, and offer one-on-one customer service, which leads to your next advantage.
Offer Personal Customer Service
Large companies are, by nature, impersonal. The sheer size of a company like Walmart makes it almost impossible for them to offer any sort of personalization or custom care with each order. As a small business, you can make that happen with only a very small amount of extra effort. Whether this realizes in greeting customers by name or handling customer requests carefully and quickly, you should take it seriously.
Some ideas for personalizing customer service:
Use a rewards card that parents can exchange for free toys or discounts after a certain number of purchases or value of purchases
Greet in-store customers by name when you can
Offer to order items for parents and help them to find things they need, even if you don't sell them. Taking the extra effort might seem like a waste of time if you aren't earning anything from it, but you are generating customer loyalty, which will pay off the next time the customer needs a toy.
Offer custom wrapping or gift basket services. Even putting together small gift baskets of collectible toys like Shopkins using new arrivals will give parents a reason to come into your store. Plus, gift baskets or collections make it easy for busy parents as well as persons buying presents for children other than their own.
Be polite and personal over customer service, and try to offer personal solutions every time.
Why is this important? The key selling point for many small businesses, including toy stores and gift points, is service. Consumers can likely get your products anywhere, they want personalized service.
You won't always be able to offer something that no one else has but you can offer it in a unique way. While you can't stock all of the toys that a big chain has, you can offer custom orders, you can offer fast customer service via Facebook, and you can spend extra time on quality control. In addition, you have the resources to identify local trends and cater to them, work with schools and charities to help your community, and working to cater to local events and even artists, you can stand out and offer something that no big store ever can.
In most cases, the big thing for you to remember is that if you're offering service, priority, and customization to your customers, you aren't even competing with big toy stores. Instead, you're offering something that they don't have, which will help you to appeal to thousands of parents.