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"We want to work with the online store as we would do with any other shop"

Javier Tenor, Marketing Manager, Tío Sam


Javier Tenor is Marketing Manager for Tío Sam, a company that owns six toy stores in Barcelona. In October they will open their seventh, this one on the internet. The company's goal is to treat the online shop as if it was one of their brick and mortar stores, but of course selling first in all Spain and later to all Europe.

What are the goals of the online shop?

We have a website since 2006 and we opened it with the final idea of having an online store. The goal is to sell toys worldwide and 24 hours a day without any extra effort or with a minimal effort.

Of course, we will start in Spain at the moment, but hopefully we will end up selling toys on the European market, once we have secured all the logistics.

At the moment we do not have sales forecasts beyond the conversion ratio: we expect that 1% or 2% of the visitors will make a purchase. We also hope that the number of visitors will grow once we launch the online store. In any case, we want to start slow, aiming to consistent sales over time. We want to work with the online store as we would do with any other shop.

Do you think that some lines of products could sell more online?

We have noted that among the most viewed items on the website and apart from the most popular of every season, there are some that deviate from the usual, such as wood kitchens, for example. We believe that we can offer a wider range of products not found in other larger competitors and that these can show good results in online sales.

For example, we could sell a piece or two a year of these wood kitchens in one of our local shops, but the outlook changes if these products are available throughout Spain. We may find some surprises like these, and this is why we plan a dynamic store that adapts its offer to the demand.

Do you plan any promotions or loyalty programmes?
Prices will be the same as in physical stores, but we will probably include promotional codes. We do not want to have a strong arrival to the market that ends up vanishing; on the contrary, we aim to a consistent evolution, so the online store falls easily within the structure of the company.

How do you see the toy business in Spain?

It continues influenced by the crisis, but there are positives aspects. Toys are necessary products, so sales remain more or less consistent although many parents opt for cheaper toys.

The main problem is that toys serve as a come-on product during the Christmas season, as some big distributors offer discounts in order to attract customers. This means that specialised retailers lose profitability. The fact that during the time of greatest demand prices are lower contradicts the law of supply and demand, one of the axioms of economics. This is an endemic and difficult problem to solve, as the market is very fragmented and it is complicated to organise all distributors.

Demand is also very seasonal, and the weight of licenses is a risk, as these products have a shorter life cycle. This means that the stock must be sold as soon as possible, before it becomes obsolete.

There are positive aspects, of course. For example, I think that eventually toys will be recognised as a key element in children development, and eventually will be recognised as a Cultural Interest Good by the Spanish government. This should lead to a VAT of 4% (current VAT is 18%), like other products with these characteristics.


tío sam, juguetes, Barcelona, online

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