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  Category: Articles » Shopping » Article

Children's DVDs and Toys - An Online Shopping Guide

By Michael S. Carpenter

As the world moves increasingly towards shopping on the Internet, the multitude of choices available can quickly overcome even the most experienced shopper. Whereas in the past, your selection was limited to a few stores in a local geographical area, today hundreds of e-shops compete for your money. How can you choose intelligently? Let's examine a few strategies.

Purchasing any item, including dvds and toys for children, can be reduced to that well-worn maxim, Supply and Demand. Before your mouse even ventures out onto the information highway leading to the online mall, we need to figure out the demand, or in this case, need or want. Then we can take a look at the best way(s) to supply this demand.

What is needed/wanted: In this specific instance, we are trying to determine what items can be obtained to satisfy the need or want. Children may want certain toys or shows, and parents want their children to have such items. Sometimes the item in question may differ between child and parent, but in general both agree. Where did the original idea come from? That is, why is toy A wanted, but not toy B? The answer is quite simple: The child and the parent have seen it on television. Savy advertisers have created demand by showing it to targeted segments of the population. Children who clamor for the new item, and parents who have the money to purchase it.

The smartest advertisers offer items based on shows kids enjoy watching. In the UK, programs aimed at children such as milkshake, cbeebies and citv create a ready-made market for consumers of DVDs and toys based on the animated and live-action shows they broadcast daily. The child watches the show and wants the toy or video; the parent either in informed by the child, or sees the show themselves while in the company of the child. The crucial point is that while other toys or movies may be offered through commercials, they tend to have a 'flavour-of-the-month' quality to them. Eventually they are replaced by other ads for other items. But anything connected to a show a child may watch over and over again for possibly years will almost always have a higher demand, and for a longer period of time.

So we have identified that shopping for toys and DVDs themed to popular children's television will have a sustained interest from both the initial audience (children), and their parents, who actually purchase the items. This is the source of our demand. But now we're faced with our initial question - How do we supply this demand?

Supplying the need/want: While there are literally hundreds of sites devoted to selling everything imaginable, how do you make informed choices? What do you look for, and what do you need to know? Sticking with children's DVDs and toys, most online retailers can be broken down into just two types - a Marketer or an affiliate.

Marketers are stocked from suppliers (who may or may not have their own stores on the web). They tend to be small operators who do not have much leeway on prices, since their profit margin can be very thin. While most are reputable dealers, in the event of a problem, you deal with them directly. It can be difficult to get a satisfactory resolution in case of a dispute.

Affiliates are also stocked from suppliers, but generally the supplier is a large company, who almost always have their own online outlets. The affiliate operates a storefront; when you order from them, the items are sent via the supplier directly. Prices tend to be fairly uniform, but since the affiliate is paid a commission, the overall markup may be less than shopping through a marketer. Also in case of a problem, you deal with the supplier, who may have a better reputation and process for resolving disputes than most marketers.

Why not shop at the supplier's outlets directly, then? And bypass the affiliate; the answer is usually one of savings in time and ease of shopping. Affiliate stores are usually set up to specialize on certain product lines, or by offering an easier layout to navigate. If you're looking for toys based on the Thunderbirds, you don't want to be distracted by search results that include motorcycles or WWII aircraft.

As a shopper then, you can identify some things to help you decide which store (Marketer or Affiliate) to use:

1. Is the layout easy to use? Can I find what I want quickly?

2. In case of a problem, do I deal with a well-known company or an unknown?

3. Is the price fair?

In conclusion, by basing your shopping requirements on what your children are watching, and knowing what to look for in an online retailer, you may find you're saving yourself a lot of headaches down the road.
About the Author
Michael S. Carpenter currently lives in the UK. His favourite online shop for children's DVDs and toys is

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