Kim Rompilla, Executive Vice President of Global Marketing Development and Enablement at Crayola, talks about the company’s solutions to supply shortages the toy bookannual Q&A on the state of the industry.
The Toy Book: How has your company mitigated the effects of supply chain disruptions? Did your products arrive on time?
KR: As a brand, Crayola has a heritage of innovation. It has been amazing to watch our teams galvanize the entire business and innovate in entirely new ways to deal with supply chain disruptions and logistical challenges throughout 2021. At the start of the pandemic, the collaboration and transparent communication have become cornerstones of risk mitigation. Not all products were on time, but as the NPD Group’s category momentum shows, Crayola largely delivered the market. Category, buyer and consumer insights were used to frame anticipated shifts in consumer demand.
The partnerships with major retailers have been incredible, with priorities clearly aligned from the start guiding plans to deliver a strong holiday season. Strong relationships across the supply chain enabled us to mitigate risk in unprecedented ways, even as consumer demand continued to climb throughout the disruptions during the year. Close partnerships with retailers and suppliers have always been key to our pace of operation, and these relationships have fueled strong collaboration, which ultimately resulted in minimal disruption to products arriving on time.
Leveraging Crayola’s diverse supply base to achieve near-market responsiveness and rapid replenishment of high-demand products worldwide were core elements of Crayola’s operating model. Research and development teams worked with supply and manufacturing for contingency options on disputed materials. Merchandising and operations teams have developed alternative approaches to run displays for retail partners. Sales worked tirelessly with retail partners to identify products that needed to meet deadlines and explore substitute products as alternatives. Early planning was the catalyst for so much great work, starting with a comprehensive approach in 2020. As labor shortages worsened, salaried office staff stepped in for a brief period to help fabrication work for US based operations. . This dynamic approach was continued in 2021 with collaboration between sales, operations, marketing and finance to continuously assess changing priorities and deliver products.
TB: What are your predictions for the state of toy retail in 2022?
KR: Toy retail has been impacted by the pandemic for two years now. Although it is difficult to make predictions, it is hoped that there will be some stabilization in 2022. Some impacts of the pandemic will linger under the new normal. Life amid the pandemic has pushed many families to get creative with how they live their lives, with a need for more games at home, family time and creativity; this will all continue. Innovations will be needed to keep families creative and connected.
This article originally appeared in the February 2022 edition of The Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!