When Green Piñata Toys Founder Shiva Kashalkar’s daughter was about eight months old, the new parent was excited to buy toys for her. However, she noticed her child would soon grow bored with them. With 85 percent of a child’s brain developing within the first five years, Kashalkar noted, they tire of their toys quickly. At the same time, she found some of her daughter’s toys were not age-appropriate, so she was not playing with them.
“I was looking for a way to rent toys” instead of buying them, Kashalkar told PYMNTS in an interview. However, there wasn’t an existing toy rental service at the time, so she was inspired to start her company. Today, Green Piñata offers “a curated selection of educational, high-quality wooden toys.” For a monthly fee, customers can receive up to four toys in every box. Kids can play with the toys for as long as they want, and customers send them back to the Green Piñata when the children are finished playing with them, at which point the company sends the next batch of toys.
During the process of selecting toys, customers see expert recommendations based on a child’s age. The system also keeps track of the items customers have rented in the past, using that information to personalize future selections. Parents can approve whatever recommendation the site gives, or can make their own choices. “Every parent knows their child the best,” Kashalkar pointed out. For payments, the company accepts credit and debit cards.
The Business Model
Green Piñata offers a selection of more than 250 toys, according to its website, and carries brands ranging from HABA to PlanToys to Crocodile Creek. Kashalkar said the company employs strict methodologies to source its toys, following all American, European and Australian safety standards. She also noted that the wood is sustainably sourced and the paint is non-toxic. The toys are also educational and “extremely high-quality,” she added.
If customers decide to keep the toys, they can buy them for a discount, usually 10 percent off of the Amazon Prime price. Moreover, Green Piñata takes care of the transaction, as they already have the customer’s payment information. “It’s much easier for them,” Kashalkar said. In essence, customers can try out four toys and buy as many as they want, “because they know for sure that their child is interested.”
All toys that are sent back to the company undergo a thorough cleaning process. First, they are cleaned using vinegar and soap, then are air-dried before another round of sanitizing and air-drying. Next, the toys are checked to make sure they are clean and that the wood is not chipped.
In addition to parents, Kashalkar said grandparents and other family members also love Green Piñata’s service. Relatives can gift three-month or six-month subscriptions for holidays and birthdays, or can choose their own amount. Heading into the future, the company’s five-year plan is to grow and capture market share as it is “revolutionizing the toy industry.”
The Children’s Market
Beyond Green Piñata with wooden toys, other eCommerce innovators have brought subscription offerings for children to the market. Earlier this month, news surfaced that Rent the Runway plans to debut a kids’ apparel collection. The clothing subscription company’s new offering was reported to initially offer girls’ sizes ranging from 3Y to 12Y. It is also reportedly collaborating with designers such as Little Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Stella McCartney, Milly Minis and LoveShackFancy Kids, among others.
Additionally, Walmart is partnering with KIDBOX to offer curated apparel styleboxes for children that customers can receive on a seasonal basis. The offerings include styles from brands such as C&C California, Butter Super Soft, Puma and BCBG.
From clothing to toys, digital disruptors are changing the way parents, grandparents and relatives access products for children with the help of the subscription business model.