Toy manufacturers cut supply to marketplaces

BigJigs ToysAbout 18 months ago I found the perfect gift for my nephew, it was a BigJigs wooden railway train with alphabet letters so that I could purchase a train with the carriages spelling his name.

I’d have never found these toys on the high street – I found them on notonthehighstreet.com as I was online looking for a birthday present. No high street retailer lost out because I purchased them online, I’d have bought something else online if I hadn’t seen them.

They’re still available for sale on marketplace, but not for much longer, not because they don’t make a perfect gift but because the manufacturer BigJigs Toys Ltd has decided to cut off retailers who sell on marketplaces.

The company said “Bigjigs Toys have reiterated that they are no longer willing to allow their brand to be devalued by the price wars on these third-party websites and will continue to champion and support their High Street retailers“. The ban came into effect on the 1st of June.

Apparently the company is now monitoring marketplaces and any retailers found to be listing will have their accounts blocked from future purchases.

The Puppet CompanyNow the The Puppet Company has followed BigJigs lead and their ban will come into effect on the 1st of August.

A director of the company says “We have received numerous complaints from customers about our puppets being offered on third party websites such as Amazon and eBay, which is creating problems for many of our accounts both small and large. We also receive regular complaints from shops telling us that customers are checking prices online, standing in their shop using their smart phones and then buying puppets online when the shop cannot price match“.

The Puppet Company say that they’ve already closed Amazon Retail’s account so not even the mighty giant of online retailing will be able to supply their products. They added “Whilst we cannot prevent sales on third party websites such as Amazon, we can choose with whom we wish to trade“.

If more toy manufacturers follow suit it could be a tricky Christmas for parents this year. Whilst the high street might be the traditional place for shopping, for many it’s simply easier and simpler to do the bulk of their Christmas gift hunting online. Out of stocks and endless queues are simply not an attractive option.

What really surprises me is not that two major UK toy companies would cut off discounting retailers, but that neither of them have had the gumption to open their own eBay and Amazon stores and if it’s simply discounting that’s the problem they could sell their products direct to consumers on the marketplaces that their customers love to buy on.

Yes selling direct on marketplaces might still be a conflict and unwelcome competition for their high street retailer clients, but then both companies have websites on which consumers can buy their products at full retail anyway.

What do you think both as a consumer and as a retailer? Do you agree with manufacturers blocking marketplace sales or do you think it’s a mad decision?

Edited to add:

BigJigs have been in touch to tell the story from their side. They have some interesting points, so make sure you also read BigJigs respond to cutting Internet only supply