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The Shipwire Blog/3 Predictions for North American International Toy Fair 2015

3 Predictions for North American International Toy Fair 2015

What we expect to see featured at Toy Fair 2015

2015 international toy fair logo

Closed off to the public and completely sold out of exhibitor space, the North American International Toy Fair is one of the most exclusive trade shows in the western hemisphere, and for good reason. Those involved in the $150 billion global toy market know that Toy Fair is the mecca of their business and it’s always exciting to see the latest in toy innovations unfold during the 3-day event.

Shipwire has been attending the Toy Fair since 2010, and besides playing with every toy that we can get our hands on, we’ve also noticed some business patterns.

Here’s what we expect to see trend at Toy Fair 2015:

Disney's Infinity cross platform toy

Cross Platform Toys: It’s undeniable that the video game industry has taken a chunk of business away from traditional toys. Instead of fighting to compete against virtual games, successful toy companies are finding ways to extend their own products developing cross platform toys. We’re talking about innovative physical toys that play alongside tablets and smartphones. Developments like this are a win for everyone: traditional toymakers can work alongside digital game developers, and consumers can experience virtual games in a novel way. As the markets for physical and digital games grow, we’re willing to bet that the intersection of the two will bring a whirlwind of change and profit.

Lego Star Wars construction set

Construction Sets: “Creative playthings” is a term that’s buzzing louder and louder as we approach Toy Fair 2015. Construction sets like Legos, Click-A-Brick, and Makey Makey are not only insanely fun, but they promote creativity and thus have a stake in the educational toy category. A favorite among children, construction sets also pull on the heartstrings of adults who love to see their kids using their imaginations. Companies with cool toys that fall into this category even have an opportunity to sell to “big kids” — makers, creators, and hobbyists of all ages. All in all, it’s safe to predict that construction sets will be hot in 2015, but then again, when haven’t they been?

JoyLabz MaKey MaKey

Educational toys, Digital Kids Conference: Building off of construction sets and combining elements from creative playthings as well as cross-platform toys, it only seems appropriate to predict the rising popularity of educational toys. Coming back for the fifth year in a row, the Digital Kids Conference, a gathering focused on providing strategies and tools to create learning-focused toy innovations, will be located within Toy Fair 2015. The partnership between the two shows will result in a showcasing of the year’s most innovative toys, as well as a comprehensive educational-focused program designed for toy inventors, designers, and other industry professionals. It’s sure to be an interesting exchange of ideas and we’ll be watching closely.

What else should you know?

The best part about Toy Fair (well, apart from the toys), is that this blog only mentions a fraction of the cool products that will be shown off. Action figures, arts and crafts, and puzzles are a few other industry segments expected to have huge updates.

Prepare for the next step
In our years of attending Toy Fair, we’ve noticed a continuous increase in the number of startups that are able to compete with big brands. While innovative toys are one thing, having accurate order fulfillment to get them into the hands of consumers is another.

  1. Don’t just focus on wholesale: This is fairly obvious by now, so I won’t go into too much detail, but the bottom line is that most brands need a strong online presence to be successful. Create space in your online store where retailers can go to find products available for wholesale. Retailers want to know why your product deserves space on their shelves or what customers your product will drive into their stores. Blogging is another simple way to generate interest and gain trust around your product.
  2. Sell internationally: Overseas markets offer an opportunity for fast expansion. With a well-connected distributor and accurate supply chain management, there’s a ton of potential revenue in bringing your product to foreign customers. By selling products in multiple markets, you broaden your potential audience and could enable shipping to a culture that has a passion for your product that you may have not been aware of.
  3. Small wholesale purchases, drop shipping, and vendor managed inventory: Strong distributors only make significant investments in proven products. For unknown or unproven products, they may ask you to drop ship to consumers (incurring costs of holding inventory, shipping, etc.) or consign inventory to them (so they only pay for what they sell). This lets distributors offload risk to you. Don’t be surprised if you’re asked to drop ship or ship to their buyers. Like everybody in the supply chain, they are trying to simplify their logistics as well, so prepare to offer them simple solutions.

If you’re already working with distributors, capitalizing on these ideas will not hurt your relationships. Why? Because your targets are different. You aren’t likely to be a competitor to the big retail players, but it is good to have a strong e-commerce presence to round out your Omni-channel sales engine.


  • DEE 02/16/15
    Lovely post that, Jonathan! How do you think the toy retail industry is reacting to the new concept of toy rental companies rising to prominence these days?

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