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Toy seller Joyin’s 2020 boom offers lessons in agility

Convoy’s shipping platform helped with shifting inventory and rapid growth

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While COVID-19 brought doom for some retailers, it was a boon for others. Forced lockdowns drove consumers to buy less apparel and more home decor, gym equipment and, believe it or not, toys for kids. 

By September, toy industry revenue surged 19%, a figure excluding peak holiday season, which usually accounts for 40% of the toy industry’s revenue. Parents seem to be assuaging the world’s uncertainty and school closures by filling their children’s daily lives with colorful and educational distractions. Because of that, toy manufacturers like Joyin are seeing revenues more than double. 

“Our bestselling Klever Kits (arts and crafts brand) item, surprisingly, is sidewalk chalk,” said Phoebe Chang, national sales manager at Joyin. “People just have nothing to do, so they have looked to us to provide some entertainment for them. We have a lot of seasonal and nonseasonal arts and crafts kits — everything from how to make your own soap or paint your own unicorn set. We launch a new product every day.”

In 2019, Joyin ⁠— a North American third-party seller to major retailers ⁠— brought in $60 million in revenue, and in 2020, it more than doubled that, bringing in $140 million. Since April, Joyin has added 1,000 items to its catalog, making its current inventory 3,000 items. While the bulk of its sales move through Amazon, Joyin products are also available on Wayfair.com, Target.com, Kroger.com, Bedbathandbeyond.com, Walmart.com and Etsy. In 2021, Joyin hopes to expand its product lines and distributions from predominantly e-commerce to in-store retail. 

But for Joyin, the story of its 2020 growth is more nuanced than being at the right place at the right time. 

In 2018, Joyin’s shipping platform couldn’t keep up with its shifting inventory and rapid growth. So it partnered with Convoy, which provides a shipping platform offering shippers real-time 24/7 visibility into the status of each shipment and ensures 94.9% on-time pickup with Convoy’s carrier network. The facility ratings Convoy provides drive the operational feedback loop for carriers, and Joyin rates highly at 4.9 out of 5. 

“Tracking each shipment from start to finish is what we value the most with Convoy, since a lot of our product is seasonal,” said Chang. “Having an on-time shipment and enough trucks for Amazon, especially with COVID, is super important right now. If we miss one week or even one or two days, we might miss out on Amazon’s whole peak selling season. We have warehouses in so many different places, so we’ve got to make sure we’re able to track all that with GPS data.” 

Approaching the Easter holiday in 2020, Amazon temporarily prohibited third-party sellers from shipping and storing nonessential goods at its warehouses, but the data from Convoy’s platform allowed Joyin to analyze the previous year’s shipments and make efficient decisions in light of these new limitations. 

The partnership with Convoy has provided Joyin a convenient and user-friendly online one-stop-shop experience to quote, book, manage bills and track shipments. That supports ⁠— rather than hinders ⁠— the company’s growth. The visibility that 24/7 tracking provides and the privilege online-only retailers enjoy of immediate real-time sales analytics allow Joyin to pivot quickly ⁠— no matter the disruption. 

“Our design cycle is very, very quick,” said Chang. “Our turnaround time is two months. So two months before whatever holiday it is, we can still design something for it. We know exactly what we did wrong right after the season ends, and we just have to do better next year, essentially.”

With the help of Convoy’s data and analytics, Joyin was able to pivot its strategy away from bulk party goods in 2020 and adapt its strategy for Halloween. The designers for Joyin’s Halloween line, Spooktacular Creations, decided to expand the inflatable costume Puff-Me-Up Collection geared toward socially distanced trick-or-treaters: prepackaged Halloween goody bags to leave at the front door for safe sharing with friends and neighbors. 

Just as arts-and-crafts kits took off in sales, Joyin’s premium home decor brand, Joiedomi, also grew a lot in the last year as homeowners are investing more time and money in decorating their homes. 

Besides the visibility that Convoy’s centralized platform provides, another secret to this lightning-speed turnaround is keeping everything in house. Joyin has its own designers, product managers and even an office in China that helps with sourcing, purchasing and acquiring container capacity. Joyin still relies on a third party to manage its four warehouses, but COVID-19 has left those warehouses short-staffed. Chang hopes that in 2021 Joyin will take ownership of that aspect of its supply chain as well. 

“Logistics is definitely our key concern right now,” said Chang. “After last year’s company review, we realized that we can actually sell more if we were to be more efficient in terms of transportation and logistics planning. As we try to expand into stores, Convoy will come in handy because that’s when we have to deliver a lot of tight on-time shipments. It’s good that we’re using Convoy right now to learn all of its features that we can potentially use in the future.”

This article is published jointly with our partners at Convoy. To view more Future of Freight content, click here.

Corrie White

Corrie is fascinated how the supply chain is simultaneously ubiquitous and invisible. She covers freight technology, cross-border freight and the effects of consumer behavior on the freight industry. Alongside writing about transportation, her poetry has been published widely in literary magazines. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing from UNC Chapel Hill and UNC Greensboro.

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