In Shopify Support, we of course encounter great stores and shopkeepers on a daily basis. But even in this abundance of fantastic businesses, we occasionally meet shopkeepers who stand out because of their enthusiasm, unique stores, and the impressive results they manage to achieve with the Shopify platform.
Menno and Simone, from 2TToys, are such shopkeepers, who, with their entrepreneurship and enthusiasm have managed to get the very best out of our platform and have experienced remarkable growth in a short time since launching on Shopify.
We had the pleasure of having a conversation with Menno and Simone about their experiences with Shopify.
Can you give me a brief overview of 2TToys?
2TTOYS was founded in 2002. Some toy sets were ordered from abroad and sold via Marktplaats and Speurders (Dutch classified advertising sites like Craigslist or eBay).
The company started from the kitchen table at home, but soon 2TTOYS became a well-established name in the LEGO world. By 2023, it is one of the largest LEGO buyers in the Netherlands, with various webshops and a "real" store in Den Bosch. 2TTOYS is active in Europe and has partners all over the world.
How did you come to sell your toys via Shopify, and how has that decision influenced your work?
The 2TTOYS webshop started simply, pages were created in Word, saved as HTML and uploaded with an FTP program. But soon the range became so large that it was decided in 2004 to purchase a software program. The first few years after the start of using that software, the results were decent, but there was no significant growth.
Our son started a Shopify business as a school project and pointed out the benefits of a MYSQL-based webshop. After several discussions with the then software supplier, we decided in a fit of pique to switch to a new webshop in Shopify. A completely empty and blank shop, as it turned out not to be easy to transfer the data from the old website to the new site.
We hired a company to help us with the transition. Of course, we initially saw a drop in sales because not all products were on the new site from day one, but soon we had added all items and since then we have seen a huge growth in the number of visitors. Not only in the Netherlands, but all over the world.
We should have made the switch earlier. Shopify makes our work easier, the apps are great and it saves us time and mistakes. The speed at which changes can be implemented - with the phone as a barcode scanner - is great. With the app on the phone, it is possible to change prices in real time, post messages on Social Media and scan and adjust the stock.
During the transition period, we set ambitious targets concerning visitor numbers, conversion ratio, customer retention, daily order count, and average daily revenue. Despite some skepticism within our team about these ambitious goals, we managed to meet all but the financial goal. This shortfall, we believe, was due to the economic uncertainty prevalent at that time, which resulted in our order size nearly halving in the second half of 2022. Had the average order size remained consistent, we would certainly have met our financial target as well.
We did achieve the other KPIs, and we even exceeded our expectation of the number of visitors to the site by 20%. This is due to the way the site is built by Shopify (URLs, sitemaps), the links with Google, Facebook, Instagram, and other socials. With SEO Ranking, Analytics, and Search Console, we can quickly and easily adjust the site, which has resulted in a huge increase in SEO ranking for all relevant search terms.
Where does the name of your store come from?
The founders of 2TTOYS, Simone and Menno, have two sons named Thygo and Thymen. In 2002, they decided to name the company in their honor. At that time, unbeknownst to us,, the name provided an unexpected advantage - it helped us rank high in search engines quickly, as Google's algorithm was simpler and more easily influenced back then.
Apart from 2TTOYS, we also operate 2TTOYS4KIDS, ROLJO, Lion&Steel, and Happytoys. We have a sister site, 2TTOYS.INFO, specifically targeting Dubai and the rest of the UAE. This site is seamlessly integrated into 2TTOYS.NL via Shopify Markets and an app that assists us in creating geolocation-based differentiated pages, offers, and prices. It's ideal that Shopify Markets provides such a powerful tool for this purpose.
How does Shopify help your team or company achieve its goals?
Our largest supplier has a discount structure which is composed of different variables. If you meet the requirements, you build up the discount. If we hadn't switched to Shopify, we wouldn't have been able to meet all the requirements in terms of usability, reports and insight into how our site is used.
In addition, Shopify makes it possible to set goals for visitor numbers and turnover. We can create better reports and have linked with our other, external sales channels/markets. This gives us real-time insight into our sales and inventory. The tools that are standard in Shopify make it easy for us to meet the conditions we set for our growing business as well as the accounting reports.
What is your advice to others who would consider Shopify?
DO IT! The Shopify platform is extremely user-friendly. You don't have to be an HTML expert to build a beautiful webshop. The integration of apps is great. It's so easy to install and use useful apps. Also, the links with Google, Facebook, and other Social Media channels work flawlessly. I have never been able to catch Shopify making a mistake, everything runs smoothly and quickly.
Do you think the investment in our product was worth it? Why?
The investment in Shopify is something we should have done much earlier. Because the pages, products, and blogs are SEO friendly, we have seen a growth in the number of visitors that has multiplied tenfold compared to the previous site. The amount that Shopify asks is low, the Return On Investment is very good. Of course, you do have to keep working on the site to keep it attractive. Now that we have been working with Shopify for almost two years, we actually wished we had made the switch earlier. The growth that our online part has achieved is purely and only due to the functionalities that Shopify offers us.
What is the most popular type of item for 2TToys?
For the past year, we've been offering new LEGO sets for pre-order. A month before these sets hit the physical stores, we already start selling them. All upcoming sets tend to sell well, particularly the more expensive ones from collections like Icons, Creator Expert, Technic, and StarWars.
While regular sets don't sell as much on our site, despite our consistent pricing being 15% below the LEGO retail price, we have a unique offering of older sets. We specialize in LEGO sets that are no longer available in regular stores. We've implemented an app that allows customers to express their interest in a specific LEGO set that we list on our site but no longer have in stock. If we subsequently acquire a batch of those specific sets, interested customers automatically receive an email enabling them to place an order directly.
Recently, we've also begun to offer LEGO sets for rent. Customers can conveniently book their rental period through our online reservation system. We also purchase used LEGO sets, which we then inspect and resell.
Playmobil sets don't sell as well. In addition to LEGO, we also stock brands like COBI and Funko Pop! The latter falls into the impulse purchase category, often attracting people to our physical store. Our website also serves as an online showcase for our Funko Pop! collection at our physical store.
Which item or items were you most excited to add to your business, and why?
Since we started renting out LEGO sets, the demand for them has grown nicely. During a holiday, people like to rent an expensive LEGO set to build it in a week. This way you have the building experience without having to actually buy the set. It also gets people enthusiastic about the product and after a rental period they often end up buying a LEGO set from our stock.
Do you have a specific type of person in mind - an imaginary customer - that you think of when you purchase new products? If so, what do they look like?
We define different types of customers: children (with parents), and adults (Adult Fans Of LEGO). We adjust our marketing policy accordingly.
For example, we post content on social media in the morning for children and in the evening for adults. We also adjust our landing pages to the target group, this is based on content that LEGO provides us.
We also adapt our communication to the customer's orders with the help of Shopify Mail. Someone who has ordered Technic gets a DM about Technic and related sets like Ideas, StarWars, and Icons.
We also have a loyalty program, which allows customers to save for a discount at our store. We are going to do more with that. Finally, we have different distribution channels: the physical store, the webshops, and the platforms. Our site is also a virtual showroom for the store. In our store, we sell impulse products, small LEGO gifts, and Funko Pop!’s.
What have been some of the most exciting or exhilarating moments in the life of 2TToys?
When we first started, our house was filled to the brim with LEGO sets. Eventually, we decided to move to a small external warehouse. The cost was relatively high for a small 2-meter by 2-meter space. By the time we moved out of that building, we were occupying almost the entire first floor.
Following an intermediary step of having our own warehouse building, we transitioned to a storefront on a busy thoroughfare in Den Bosch about ten years ago. We view ourselves as specialists, not just a retail store. Therefore, we chose a location that is easily accessible by car, offers free parking in front, and has a spacious layout.
We operate a warehouse attached to the store, but our largest inventory is managed externally at two different locations. This transition from being solely an online entity to a multi-distribution entity with a physical store has significantly contributed to our growth and evolution as a company.
What are your plans or goals for the future of 2TToys?
The two biggest goals are integrating the POS cash register with Shopify and adjusting the webshop with special content for various geographical areas, so that no matter what country you are in, you see relevant information. Only products that are in stock at that location at the prices and shipping methods applicable to that area.