Selling toys online isn’t all fun and games. While the expansion and evolution of technology makes it easier than ever for companies to get ecommerce sites up and running, this same IT evolution means increased competition across an already crowded space.

If toy brands can’t stand out from the crowd, they risk getting lost in the digital shuffle.

Learn about three of the top ecommerce trends for toy brands and how to make the best use of these trends to deliver consistent return on investment (ROI) and drive ongoing innovation.

State of Play

According to research, the online toy sales market in the U.S. is now worth more than $20 billion — and it’s growing faster than the U.S. economy overall.

Large brands such as Hasbro are seeing significant success in the ecommerce space. According to, the company managed to surpass $1 billion in ecommerce revenue for the first time in 2020.

While it’s easy to attribute some of this online shift to pandemic-related pressure, it’s more accurate to say that current conditions have simply increased the rate of change in this market. Forty-nine percent of parents now say they expect to shop more online after the pandemic.

As the online toy market becomes increasingly crowded, toy brands must recognize the following trends and not waste time before they shoot their shot.

Trend #1: The Social Solution

Toys and games are inherently social. Whether its kids playing with their newest toys or adults sitting down for board game night, sharing an experience and combining imaginations is a huge part of the fun. Therefore, online toy brands must leverage the power of social commerce to empower their sales.

Here’s why: Trust. Eighty-six percent of shoppers say they’re willing to pay more for something when it comes from a brand they trust. Ecommerce companies can boost conversions and create long-term relationships if they can create a connection with customers that’s based on trust — that is, trust in product quality, value, and enjoyment.

Social commerce makes this possible. In practice, this approach encompasses two broad categories:

  • The organic social interaction driven by customers on your social pages or across their personal social media accounts; and
  • The use of social sharing platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, or Facebook.

Consider the demographic user distribution for TikTok. According to recent data, nearly 75% of users are between 10 and 39 years old, covering both older toy users and parents who purchase toys for their children.

What Brands Should Do

Toy companies can become real players in the social space by adopting a multi-pronged approach.

Get Social and Be Accessible

Brands should start by creating social pages on popular platforms to feature new products or updates. Showing up in these spaces helps build trust with your customers by making your brand accessible. Plus, it’s an easy way for customers to reach out with questions or comments or even share with their networks.

Influence Organic Interest

Consider partnering with social influencers who are in your target demographic. Influencers can provide authentic demonstrations of your products and help drive organic interest.

Trend #2: Mobile Matters

To drive ecommerce success, toy brands must be mobile. As noted by eMarketer, the average U.S. user now spends more than four hours per day on their mobile device, with 88% of that time spent in applications.

In part, consumers are opting for mobile transactions to avoid cash payments and reduce COVID-19 risk. They’re also making use of mobile to easily compare prices, with 48% of shoppers doing so across multiple retailers before making a purchase.

What Your Brand Should Do

Adding or improving the mobile presence of your brand — through apps or websites — is crucial. This also plays into your omnichannel approach, which you may need to fine-tune.

Improve User Experience on Mobile

The move to mobile means that toy brands need applications and websites that meet user expectations. No matter what device a customer is using to connect with your brand, a responsive design approach ensures your site automatically adjusts layout, font sizes, and functionality accordingly.

Adopt an Omnichannel Approach

The adoption of an omnichannel customer experience platform makes it possible to connect with consumers and collect conversion data anytime, anywhere. It also necessitates an omnichannel retail strategy to continually evolve with this data as needed.

Trend #3: Sustainable Is Attainable

According to a recent IBM report, 40% of customers are now purpose-driven. They’re looking for brands that align with their personal values around functionality, sustainability, and social responsibility.

This focus on sustainability also extends to toys. According to The Toy Association, kids of all ages now point to the environment as one of their top concerns. Major brands like Lego are making the move to more eco-conscious manufacturing with an initiative to reduce carbon emissions by 37% over the next 10 years.

What Brands Should Do

For toy brands, this sustainable shift requires a few components.

Break Up With Waste

The first sustainable shift is to find a way to reduce current waste. This might include adjustments to packaging methods to minimize the amount of plastic used or sourcing specific toy components from a manufacturer with a reputation for eco-friendly practices.

Communicate New Eco-Friendships

Next, brands must clearly communicate these efforts on their ecommerce site. This can start on the homepage with a banner or sidebar indicating who they’ve partnered with and the result of this partnership. Opt for simple, direct language. For example, “In partnership with X, we’ve reduced Y by Z.”

Don’t Neglect Product Pages

It’s also worth highlighting sustainability on all relevant product pages. By integrating environmental data as part of the basic product description, it’s possible for brands to communicate this information to all prospective customers, even if they arrive on the product page via a sponsored link or social share.

Playing for Keeps

With consumers now opting for contact-free shopping that makes it possible to get what they want, when they want it, toy brands must tackle a few obstacles to stand out. However, their best bet is to lean into ecommerce trends — such as social sharing, mobile-first design, and sustainable approaches — to help drive digital revenue.

Gaining even better insight into consumer behavior and strategizing to meet their needs? That’s child’s play when you download our 2021 Consumer Research report.


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