By Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, Dr. Toy®
Stevanne Auerbach, PhD/aka Dr. Toy® offers many play, learning and toy suggestions from baby to older children in the new 4th edition of Dr. Toy’s Smart Play Smart Toys, available in stores. The author of three books on toys, she evaluates toys and children’s products, and provides the Dr. Toy awards found on Dr. Toy’s Guide drtoy.com and for Dr. Toy’s Best Gift Guide App.
Below, Dr. Toy shares 10 ideas to help you create a checklist of productive activities that can benefit your bottom line, enhance your customers’ experience and bring them back to your store.
- Understand the power of play
Become a play and toy expert and select products that fit a wide range of children’s growth and developmental needs. Include items that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including senior members.
- Tailor the best mix of products
Toys sell to a broad range of customers who look for the best they can find and afford. Your products should represent the entire range of ages, community, and diversity.
- Know your customers
Welcome them, and ask them to register as a “valued customer.” Send them a monthly or quarterly email newsletter. Find out what they want, and then try to provide those products.
- Enliven in-store experiences
Create a table or counter offering games and demos. Run special events to get customers more engaged in the store.
Brand your store
Host drawings for prizes, and hold special sales and promotions with themes such as back-to-school, STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) learning, fantasy play and nature.
- Trust your expertise
Play is vital to everyone’s health and well-being. Expand your skills in business, marketing and enriching everyday experiences through play.
- Contemplate community outreach
Sponsorship of local charities and groups, or offering prizes for events, increases your store’s name recognition.
As an essential member of the toy industry, join organizations such as the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association, Toy Industry Association, Inc. and Women in Toys. Read trade magazines and sign up for The Bloom Report.
- Train your staff
Train your personnel about age-appropriate toys; stock your store with good choices; and be sure your staff understands developmental milestones, toy appropriateness and can easily and courteously assist your customers.
- Offer a range of playthings
Include a variety of toys for all ages and reasons such as active toys, creative toys and puppets educational toys.
Have fun! Create a special place that is the hub for the best toys and games in your community. That’s a winning combination for customers of all ages.
© 2015 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, San Francisco, CA
Dr. Toy ® is trademark of Stevanne Auerbach
Images courtesy of Scientific Explorer and Think Fun (available at Rep Force One), and Toy Travelers International.