February 2010 | Vol. IX - No. 2
|“We actually have webcams at a few of our staff's desks where they can chat with customers when online.” — David Davis, RoundTable Toys|
After 10 years of success with selling toys in cyberspace, Owner David Davis of RoundTable Toys decided to branch out into the brick-and-mortar space, opening a retail store in Winterville, N.C., just last October.
That decision, as well as the choice to rework the company’s website, had something to do with the progressively crowded nature of online sales.
PICTURES DON’T CUT IT
As David told TDmonthly Magazine, retailers have to carve out a niche to stand out. For RoundTable Toys, that niche online includes “multiple images, detailed information, video of the toy in action, and social interaction — not only with the company selling the item, but with other customers as well. Gone are the days of simple customer-written feedback posted on your site.”
A description and photo of the product no longer satisfies Web shoppers, he said. So Davis’ revamped site incorporates various interactive features.
It embraces social networking, in fact, merging the features of its social site roundtabletoys.tv with Facebook, Twitter, and, perhaps in the future, other technological platforms as well.
GIVING CUSTOMERS CONTROL
“We have the ability for customers to provide feedback back to our site so other customers can see the toys they want to purchase in action,” he said. “Customers will be able to communicate back via Facebook and Twitter post, leave video feedback, and actually take pictures/video of the product being used and post this back to our site.”
In addition, video feed of most products the store carries will be available showing the item being used by kids and games played in a real setting. The store also plans to offer weekly podcasts, live webshows, and interaction with customers.
“We actually have webcams at a few of our staff’s desks where they can chat with customers when online,” Davis told TDmonthly.
THE RIGHT WAY TO FILL A STORE
Despite having a strong vision and staff that’s almost like family, RoundTable Toys has faced some challenges, including the pain of excess inventory.
“With any business, inventory is the life blood of the company,” he said. “In 2008, we were very aggressive with a few lines and really committed to an extremely high level of inventory. Unfortunately, this did not pan out and we carried a high level of this product into 2009.”
Now, RoundTable Toys operates with the help of a customized LightSpeed system that maintains inventory records for both sides of the business, distinguishing goods based on their location — either in the retail store or warehouse.
"[LightSpeed] has forecasting capabilities based on previous sales patterns and other data we enter in the system," Davis told TDmonthly. "We also have just hired a new senior purchasing analyst whose sole job is to run analysis of each item to maximize our purchases and margins."
KEEPING THE EXPERIENCE ALIVE
Since experience is crucial to a solid brick-and-mortar business, Davis has outfitted his 12,000-square-foot store with customer-friendly spaces.
“We have a 1,800-square-foot Alex Toys Boutique where customers can try our many Alex items,” he explained. “In our girls’ sections, we actually built a princess stage that allows girls to play dress up and sing! These are just two examples, but every section of our store is filled with areas where customers can truly play with the product and interact with their kids playing with the product.”
See RoundTable Toys’ top-10 best sellers online.
See RoundTable Toys’ top-10 best sellers at its brick-and-mortar location.