The ongoing global pandemic has changed the buying habits of people across the globe. It has changed how the Toys and Games market works and how products are being sold with parents and children adapting to their countries’ different guidelines.
Homeschooling and home-based activities are re-shaping consumer demand and spending patterns. With the ease of online shopping, more and more consumers are turning to eCommerce for their toy and game needs.
These facts and figures show an increase in online spending in the kids’ categories. This is also driven by the growing number of children using Debit cards with more financial means, empowerment and freedom than previous generations.
With Amazon’s 150m global audience of Prime subscribers looking for Prime delivery, this makes an attractive proposition to parents, children, gamers and many others who regularly purchase in the Toys and Games category.
This article will explore how you can help your brand reach this massive audience, the different ways to maximise your product launch through Amazon and growth strategies that will make you stand out in the Toys and Games category. We’ll look at the different ways to sell on Amazon, the pros and cons of each option and look in detail at how to optimise listings for the best results and overcome any compliance issues related to selling Toys and Games.
|Amazon Set Up|
|How to Get Approval and Ungate to Sell Toys|
|How to Optimise Toy & Games Amazon Listings|
|Launching & Increasing Sales|
If you’re already selling on Amazon and comfortable with the basics, skip ahead to the compliance, product launch and marketing sections to take your listings to a whole new level.
For everyone else, how you sell your products on Amazon will depend on your business model.
The two choices are Vendor Central and Seller Central. The most critical difference between the two is the point of contact whereby the products are sold.
Vendor means Amazon buys your products from you, then resells them to consumers on its platform. With Seller Central, you are the one selling your products directly to consumers through Amazon.
Check out our handy guide on the differences between Vendor and Seller here.
Amazon will only work on a trade relationship with the brand owner or an entity with exclusive distribution rights in the region you are selling.
Essentially, Amazon approaches this from the viewpoint of why deal with multiple wholesalers when they can deal directly with the brand. Indeed, if you are a wholesaler, then you can sell your products through Seller Central. This is Amazon’s 3rd party marketplace and is open to any business entity.
Opening up a Seller Central account is very easy and can be done in three simple steps.
However, it’s a bit more complicated to get selling on Vendor.
The first and most important thing to know is that Vendor Central is invite-only.
Being in contact with the buyer doesn’t automatically mean you can start selling on Amazon. The next step is to negotiate pricing with them.
Once pricing has been agreed then the Vendor Manager will start the onboarding, which includes:
P.S Check out our quick cheat sheet below on how Vendors should negotiate with Amazon to get the best deal.
Vendor brands will also get access to a whole host of promotional activity that Seller brands won’t. You may be familiar with Amazon.co.uk Top 100 Toys list that appears every holiday season. The Toys We Love list on Amazon.com and consideration for these promotional vehicles are just some of the preferential treatment a Vendor relationship will get you with Amazon.
Other relevant Toys and Games promotional activities Vendor will have you considered for include Treasure Truck, an already established promotional vehicle in the US. This is where trending, exclusive or discounted products are texted to Amazon users with the details of a time-limited offer.
The consumer can then buy the product on the spot, and it is shipped directly to their door. It brands itself as having ‘FOMO-inducing offers.’
As a vendor, you ship units to Amazon’s fulfilment centre and they arrange delivery to the buyer much like the well-known Fulfilment by Amazon process, which you can read more on in our blog linked in the next section.
Customers will enjoy speedy Prime delivery and brands enjoy improved sales as a result.
To help increase sales and the amount of orders Amazon places for your product, your dedicated Vendor Manager will provide you with a range of training modules that help market your products on Amazon, which along with the point of sale, is crucial to Amazon success.
As a third-party Amazon seller, you have a choice between three Amazon fulfilment options.
We’ve created this in-depth comparison of FBA V FBM V SFP Amazon fulfilment options for a more detailed explanation.
The majority of sellers will choose FBA with its cheaper operational overheads and perks such as Prime delivery eligibility.
However, be aware that there are additional rules around how to package and deliver specific products in the Toys and Games category, providing an extra workload for your organization which we cover as part of our next section in our deep dive of compliance issues related to Toys and Games on Amazon.
In gated categories such as Toys and Games, the Seller must take great care to ensure that the products supplied are safe and compliant with all relevant regulations.
The CE mark is a self-certification mark that is applied to a product by the manufacturer. It indicates that the product meets health, safety and environmental protection standards for the European Economic Area (EEA).
In addition to this, EU legislation states that the manufacturer of a CE marked product issues an EU Declaration of Conformity for the product that includes technical documentation.
Not all products sold in the EEA are required to be CE marked. However, a common one that does require this CE mark is toys.
Due to Brexit, there is some additional red tape to be aware of. After December 31, 2020, most products that require a CE mark will require the UKCA mark in order to be made available in Great Britain.
UK Conformity Assessed is a new product marking designed to replace CE marking in Great Britain over time.
However, the UK Government has released guidance which means that CE marking will still be accepted in the UK until January 1, 2022.
Additional means of affixing the UKCA mark will be accepted until January 1, 2023. You can find out more about CE & UKCA marking here.
Amazon’s policy requires all sellers of toys to have the safety documents listed below. Upon request, you must promptly submit the required safety documents for each ASIN or model number you want to list.
How to submit the required documents for approval
Note: If you are still deciding between Vendor and Seller it’s worth bearing in mind that it is much easier to pass through compliance processes related to Toys and Games as your Vendor Manager will help you navigate the inner workings of Amazon.
The Toy Safety Directive (TSD) sets out the requirements for safety warnings that must be applied to toys and/or their packaging and instructions for use.
Amazon sellers will need to do the following to comply with this requirement:
You can find more information on EU and UK Toys product assurance here.
Toys for sale on Amazon must comply with all federal, state and local laws. All toys intended for use by children aged 12 years or under must meet standards including:
Amazon may request toy safety documentation at any time to confirm compliance, and you will have to submit images of the products as well as any relevant Consumer Product Safety documentation.
You can read more about US-specific requirements at the following help page.
A major compliance hurdle on Amazon is in relation to batteries and there are many Toys and Games that come with batteries embedded or with batteries to operate the product.
Here are some of the batteries that appear in products across the Amazon catalogue:
Upon setting up a listing on Amazon, you will be required to provide battery related information including:
Beyond this very basic subset of information, you could also be required to fill in a Safety Data Sheet (SDS). This allows for more information and a deeper dive into the batteries properties, such as physical and chemical nature, potential health dangers, and handling methods.
Depending on the type of battery, you may be able to avoid having to submit an SDS sheet. In this instance, a battery exemption sheet may be enough which you can find more out about here.
You can see more about Amazon battery selling standards on Amazon’s Seller University here.
Amazon requires battery manufacturers and distributors to provide a lithium battery test summary for any ASIN sold on Amazon.
This battery test summary is a global standard and is a United Nations standard known as UN 38.3.
Lithium-ion batteries have a different eligibility status based on the energy content in watt-hours (Wh) and marketplace, so it’s worth checking what’s allowed in the US might not be permitted in another Amazon marketplace.
Failure to provide this summary could prevent you from selling on Amazon, and can see any stock that you may have in Amazon FBA disposed of without notice and you’ll even be billed for the pleasure. So, you must meet any lithium battery test requirements before sending the stock into Amazon.
If you’re selling products such as remote-controlled cars or aeroplanes where they require dry batteries to come along with the product, you’ll need to adhere to Amazon’s packaging advice regarding these batteries.
They must be secured within the packaging to prevent battery terminals coming into contact with metals. Batteries cannot be expired, and expiry dates must be clearly visible on the packaging.
Permitted packaging materials (rigid packaging):
Prohibited packaging materials (except when used in addition to permitted rigid packaging):
You can read more about packaging batteries here.
FBA has specific product preparation requirements for certain categories that must be followed for units to be received at Amazon fulfilment centres.
For example, products for infants and children under three years of age also require special preparation. The following video demonstrates how to prepare baby products for shipping and storage:
If you do not want to perform this product preparation yourself, Amazon can perform the prep for a fee. To have Amazon prep your products, you must first enable FBA preparation service in your Account Settings. You can find out more about product preparation here.
Amazon’s policies require that certain products sold via Amazon meet specified certification standards. You can find further information on products requiring additional approvals such as Fidget Spinners, Squishy Toys, and Hoverboards.
If you wish to sell safety risk products in other marketplaces, you may need to apply in each marketplace individually depending on that marketplace’s requirements.
Unsurprisingly, the Toys and Games category’s compliance guidance is pretty stringent as you can see from how much we’ve covered. For whatever marketplace you’re looking to sell Toys and Games on you must make sure that your product(s) meet and pass all the marketplace requirements.
This ranges from product certifications to special considerations when packaging items, e.g., packaging of batteries in a specific way or inclusion of instructions for items that will need them.
Use our guidance above as a starting point but make sure to look for specifics about your specific product type beyond the category itself.
Ensure that you do a logistics assessment in terms of how you either ship, package and deliver the items via your own carrier (FBM) or if you do this via FBA and make sure you understand all the requirements and associated fees that go along with this service.
You will need to follow the Amazon terms of service about your product type to the letter to get selling on Amazon and get your ASIN(s) approved.
Once you’re confident that you meet all these compliance requirements, you can focus on other listing considerations.
It’s worth noting that Holiday selling requirements are becoming a regular fixture in the Amazon holiday season.
Sellers had to meet specific performance criteria through seller fulfilment from November 2, 2020, to January 3, 2021.
Performance criteria based on Seller-fulfilled orders included:
Also, worth noting Toys and Games eligibility during the holidays is determined separately for each country. If you sell in multiple countries, then your performance metrics will be evaluated for each country.
However, orders that use FBA were not subject to the holiday selling requirement.
As well as these operational considerations, you’ll want to drill down to the specific target group for your products.
Age appropriateness is essential throughout the lifespan of your listing, but also critical during holiday periods. This is the period where unsure aunties and uncles and well-wishers are looking for gifts by age without knowing precisely what they want.
It’s important to identify age-appropriateness for any Toys and Games listings that you have on Amazon. Many consumers rely on finding an age-appropriate gift that is a good match for age, interests, and stage of development.
Identifying the gender most suitable to these toys is also essential as it will help consumers find the toys and games they want for the kids they want to give them to. It’s also worth noting the rise of unisex and gender-neutral toys that allow kids to have greater freedom to play and explore without being restricted by gender roles. This also gives shoppers a broader selection to choose from when they are browsing for a present.
For example STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and STEAM (which adds the “A” for art) toys used to be aimed primarily at boys but now they’ve adopted a gender-neutral and inclusive stance.
When listing your product, you will be provided with the opportunity to add age appropriateness, gender and other item discovery information. These attributes affect how customers can find your product on Amazon using browse or search.
As you can see, once you go into the Toys section of Amazon, age is the first discovery field for potential customers to whittle down their search. So, it’s important to list an age for any product in the Toys and Games category where applicable.
These determiners will also come into play in other sections of Amazon such as the Gift Finder where age groups are used to suggest products for those shoppers keen on buying a gift without knowing exactly what they need.
Now that we’ve covered all the compliance information and you’re happy that you’re targeting the right audience, we can begin creating the listing or making an offer on an existing listing.
It’s important to understand the difference between a new listing and your offer on an existing listing before you start.
If you’re the first seller to offer that exact product on Amazon, you will have to create a brand new listing.
If you’re selling a product that other merchants already sell on the Amazon marketplace, then you’ll have to create an offer on that listing as multiple merchants will share the same Amazon listing.
You can find out if the product is already in Amazon’s catalogue via Seller Central.
Go to Catalogue > Add Products.
Search for the product name, EAN, UPC or ASIN. ASIN is Amazon’s catalogue number.
You’ll find the ASIN in the URL of every listing on Amazon’s website. For example, the ASIN for this product is B08CN3FRHX.
If the product already has a listing, then you will be offered the chance to create an offer on the listing. If you’ve already received your approval to sell Toys, then you can create your offer.
Enter your sales prices, confirm order handling and delivery times, and your products are ready to be sold.
As we went over earlier, there are sometimes restrictions in the Toys and Games category. Have all the documentation and information you needed to deal with the restrictions.
For products already listed by other sellers on Amazon
When in Seller Central go to Catalogue > Add Products.
Insert the ASIN or other product code into the search box.
Beside the product picture and information, click Listing Limitations apply and Apply to Sell.
You will then be met with another page where you can click ‘Request for Approval’
Upload the required documentation for the products you intend to list. Depending on the product you are applying for, and how you acquire the products, Amazon may ask for documents to include:
Once the application is submitted, a member of the Seller Support applications team will either approve the application or get in touch for further information.
First, you must create the listing. Once the product has been created, it will be put in inactive status on the Manage Inventory page. Click Edit and apply to list the product.
If you have applied to sell previously and have not heard back or need to complete a draft application, go to Catalogue > Add Products on Seller Central and click Selling Application Status.
Pre-ordering is available on Amazon, and you can use this to capitalise on marketing efforts before the release date of the Toys or Games that you are due to launch.
By enabling pre-orders of your product, shoppers can order and reserve the product before its available, providing them with the peace of mind that they know it won’t sell out and will receive it soon upon launch. This has the added benefit of creating an excitement and exclusivity amongst shoppers about your product.
For example, Sony’s Playstation 5 pre-order strategy had a strategically timed release date just ahead of Christmas accompanied by a significant pre-launch marketing campaign. This saw the Playstation 5’s pre-order numbers in the first 12 hours matched the first 12 weeks of PS4 pre-orders, that is over a million.
With your product page live in advance of launch you can also already showcase to consumers exactly what to expect through feature details and use case scenarios on your product listing page.
It derisks the short period before Christmas and also can help the operations team to improve demand planning and production ahead of the launch.
The good news is that Amazon makes setting up pre orders really easy, and you can find out how at the dedicated seller central page here.
By now, you should have a better understanding of the different pieces of the jigsaw when it comes to selling your Toys and Games on Amazon.
So now you should be ready to launch your product on Amazon, so to recap.
Choose Vendor or Seller
Other Listing Considerations
After all of this is complete, your listing should be live on Amazon, and then you’re ready to tap into this massive marketplace and get your product seen by the most relevant audience. If you’re looking to increase your sales on Amazon, and let’s face it, why wouldn’t you be? You should consider talking to a specialist like us.
Once you’ve gained approval, met compliance requirements in your chosen marketplace(s) and listed your products successfully, then you’re ready to get these listings in front of the eyes that matter most.
Amazon gives you instant access to millions of customers, but you’re still competing with thousands of other brands out there, many of which will undoubtedly be in the same niche.
To make your mark in amongst all the noise on Amazon, you will need to learn some core principles associated with Amazon advertising.
Check out our Amazon flywheel below to see how each marketing function flows into the next stage.
Getting this wheel in motion as soon as possible is important as it’s how you’ll make the biggest splash. You may be expecting your most significant sales during Christmas, but you will have to have launched much earlier in the year with an optimised listing and the flywheel already in motion.
This will increase rankings steadily over the months while accruing reviews and ratings that are all important to success on Amazon. By the time the holiday season rolls around, you’ll have listings with many sales and positive reviews that maximises your products’ selling capabilities on Amazon.
Below is a graphic regarding one of our clients whose product we took over from a best seller rank of 7954. We quickly increased sales so that by the time demand naturally grows in the lead up to the holiday season, the brand captures a large portion of the demand.
The chart below perfectly describes the goal for any product, like Toys and Games, that have a very seasonal pattern.
Next, we’ll look at the advertising methods you can deploy to make the Amazon Revenue Flywheel work faster for you, so you can peak at just the right time.
Look at our graphic below for an overview of four critical elements for Amazon success. Knowing how each of these elements interacts to increase sales turns brands from good sales to best sellers.
|Amazon SEO||Amazon Advertising||Promotions||Conversion Rate|
|Understanding how people search for your product or gifts for your target age and gender audience.|
Optimise your listing to reflect that customer behaviour.
|There are three main types of ad campaigns you can configure through Amazon including sponsored product ads, sponsored brands and sponsored display.||Running promos before, during and after seasonal events will accelerate sales, for example Lighting Deals, BOGOF and discounts/coupons||A high conversion rate means higher rankings and more sales, and a better Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) from paid ads.|
Have an Amazon advertising strategy to complement your optimised listing centred around the strongest keywords related to your product. Look into:
Pacvue’s 2020, Q4 CPC Report backs up the notable increase in Toys and Games’ interest over the holiday season where a sharp uptick in CPC was recorded in November and December.
The Toys & Games category saw a sharp increase in CPCs in November and December, up 46% and 176% over October.
This increase is relatively consistent with the increase in 2019 for the Toys & Games category with December 2020 CPC increasing to $1.27, up only 2% from December 2019.
As you can see from the two graphs above, the advertising cost will inevitably increase in the immediate lead up to Christmas and ROAS will decrease.
However, what that also shows is the need to have your products already well established by the holiday season. By launching on Amazon earlier in the year, you can use advertising initially to boost sales when it’s cost-effective and continue to grow organically throughout the year.
By the time the Christmas rush comes, your product will already be well established and have captured organic rankings to truly capitalise from the Christmas rush.
When selling on Amazon, you may find that you have many competitors competing to win the Amazon Buy Box. Many of whom could be selling for years with a considerable established rank and dominance of the buy box meaning their offer is the one appearing first to all those add-to-basket-happy customers over the festive season.
Who gets the Buy Box mostly comes down to three things, which the Amazon algorithm ranks in order of importance:
Note: If a seller performs poorly on any of these metrics, they will struggle to win the Buy Box. Let’s look at an example.
You can see that Your Favourite Brand Names is priced higher than Club Distributors in the example above. However, their delivery date is over a week later despite them both being FBA. This could be due to them not having the stock sent into the Amazon Warehouse yet.
The other competitor on the example mmkdeals has the same price as Your Favorite Brand Names and a slightly better rating over the past 12 months. However, the amount of reviews dwarfs mmkdeals, and it can provide the fastest delivery a day earlier.
This shows the importance of winning the buy box, and even more importantly it shows the need to launch onto Amazon as soon as possible and build up reputation and sales well ahead of the festive period. Next we’ll look at how to launch your product onto Amazon so that you can steadily accrue sales, ratings and reviews that will put you in pole position to dominate the buy box and the marketplace during the holiday season.
Consumer behaviour has changed significantly during the pandemic with more people buying online and the changing age profile of shoppers. Together, this means an even greater online marketplace for toys and games brands to grow their products into best sellers.
Amazon comes with a substantial ready to buy audience that is growing by the second. Still, it takes a great understanding of the Amazon ecosystem’s nuances and the regulatory frameworks in toys and games to stand out amongst the severe competition that you’ll find on the platform.
Weigh up the type of products you’re selling and choose if they are better served under a Vendor or Seller relationship. Check that your items tick the boxes of each compliance framework in every Amazon marketplace you intend to sell in and begin listing your products. It is then about investing in Amazon advertising to kickstart sales and start the Amazon flywheel spinning in motion.
Create a team that understands these Amazon principles and how best to use the various marketing tools on offer and how it applies specifically to the toys and games marketplace. Once you have these pieces in place, then you can be excited about Amazon becoming a lucrative revenue stream for your toys and games.
If you’d like to learn more about how FordeBaker can help you navigate the toys and games category on Amazon, optimise listings and boost your sales. Get in touch with our founder firstname.lastname@example.org.