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Mattel Pixar Diecast CARS: The Retail Behind the Scenes Peek

Why can’t we find CARS on the shelf?

We have covered this in the broad scope but let’s drill down a bit more to the store level.

The bottom line is that while the big retailers (Walmart, Target and obviously Toys R Us) use toys to drive us to the store, once we’re there – they don’t really care that much. Because toys are annoying in many senses, people only want certain ones, margins are not particularly high and when they don’t sell, they REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don’t sell.

It’s not like toothpaste or laundry detergent or even DVD’s where if you’re set on buying one, you’ll just buy another one on sale so it’s money in their pocket. Not always with toys. If you want the High Musical 3 Sharpay figure wearing the silver dress, you might not settle for the red dress version or in CARS parlance, Green Ramone is not Retro Ramone … but Colgate with whitening crystals not on sale or Crest with brightening crystals for $2.69 is close enough …

But toothpaste – while a solid moneymaker is dull, dull, dull … toys makes them look hip and cool – even if you’re not shopping for toys … so now, who is to blame for not enough CARS on the shelf.

It’s different at different stores. At Wal-Mart, it starts with the store designation. While I don’t know the actual code that WM uses to code their stores, most retailers just go with A, B, C or more designations.

Basically, it’s the size of the store, its sales, its neighborhood composition, and its competitors – each store is broken and ranked by groups.

And in the case of our interest, it’s also the size of the toy department – you’ll notice some are huge and others and just 6 half aisles …

So, if there’s a Super Target or a massive Toys R Us closer to the freeway, WM adjusts what toys that particular store gets.

And while you think of them as on the ball, last year, one of the large retailers finally gave permission for their Florida stores to stop carrying snow tires … or as Home Depot discovered, Arizona & New Mexico stores didn’t sell as many lawnmowers as other states – humm, let me guess why?

The bottom line is not every store got the endcap but there’s no way for us on the outside to really say which store falls into that designation – strangely, more stores seems to have goten the pallet last year but a pallet doesn’t really require much work – drag it out, unwrap it, it’s done.

So, that’s the starting point of whether you will find the endcap, the pallet or even any new CARS.

Now, we get to next part of the toy manager. Just as with any retail store or any business, you have employees/managers you want to praise and maybe even hug or so I’ve heard and there are others you’d like to revise the age old tradition of having them drawn and quartered (if you’re unsure how that is dealt out, think rope and four horses going in 4 directions …). This is the case with a store such as Wal Mart. You have managers on the ball, checking their stock and YES, they can actually order things from their warehouse/distribution center.

But the nitty gritty is that some managers just don’t pay that much attention – to them, they have 20 or 40 or 60 CARS on the shelf, how much more do they need? Of course, a look would show that they have 20 Bug Mouth McQueens, 10 Lightning Ramones and 10 Docs … but the system won’t send them any more CARS because they have enough to stock the pegs and the manager doesn’t care enough to look all that closely. Because unlike SPEED RACER or another dog line like THE HULK, they are not going to get a systemwide markdown notice – so it slips under the radar … and as CARS sales slows in that particular store, the computer might send them less or none at all … but it does go beyond that. As insiders have told me, they can see stock in the stores in their area and they can see other stores that have it in the back room somewhere. So, sometimes, it’s there – it’s just not out there.

So, sometimes you have to ask, do you have this UPC?

Dinoco Helicopter 0-27084-69712-4
Mack 0-27084-76049-1
Marco 0-27084-76048-4

Maybe they do have it.

So, what’s the final verdict on WM? If you find the right manager (usually there in the morning until 4 PM), you can convince them to re-stock, or to order from the warehouse (well, not for you specifically but for everyone 🙂 ) but other managers are not going to care or their store is not on the list so you might be better off skipping that store … but then again, that manager could be replaced with another so don’t stop going forever :-\ …

At Target, the problem is their odd commitment to pegs in the stores for CARS but yet, they seem unwilling to buy stock to keep the pegs remotely stocked … and of course, without the DCPI number, Target can’t look up things by UPC … odd … in the case of Target, we have to also add in the blame of the Mattel sales rep(s) to Target … for not tracking the sell-through rate of CARS and not making them order enough CARS … but already covered here.

At Toys R Us …

The overstock bin headers actually have the CARS logo so we know it has a (relative) sense of permanance but then again, they seem willing to stock EVERYTHING except the mainline singles …

And yes, Mattel has sales reps but there are over 7,000 WM’s, Targets & TRU’s – nevermind the thousands of other stores … so they are going to be at every store even every few weeks and like the quality of the managers, it will vary and of course, they have to cover EVERYTHING Mattel sells … and even in the case of CARS, if the get a call and go to a specific store to swap stock, it will ALL depend on when they get the approval … so if just happens to be a an “un-interesting” CASE … then yea, sometimes a Green Ramone gets swapped for, you guessed it – another Green Ramone …

So, will complaining help? Not sure but it can’t hurt.

Here was our original post on where to complain and remember, Target & TRU often does those receipt surveys so win thousands and help us to get more freakin’ CARS on the shelf.

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