Sex Shop Talk

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Exploring the Safety of Glass Sex Toys

Out of all the sex toy materials out there, glass sex toys are at the top of the list that makes people nervous. With misconceptions of something breaking into sharp pieces in one’s nether regions, it’s important to offer customers education about using this type of pleasure product.

Like medical-grade stainless steel, glass is non-porous and therefore very easy to clean and sterilize — making it a great material option. They’re also beautiful additions to any sex toy collection. They can be quite strong and, therefore, quite safe… if they’re made correctly. Poorly made glass sex toys are dangerous nightmares. Well-crafted ones are nothing to shy away from.

Simplifying Glass

The stuff in your car window isn’t the same as what’s in your flower vase. They’re entirely different beasts with entirely different processes. The same goes for sex toys.

And the best first step is to understand some of the terminology:

Soda Lime Glass — It’s the most common type of glass and can be found in anything from windowpanes to bottles or jars. It accounts for around 90 percent of all manufactured glass.

Borosilicate Glass — This glass is engineered to withstand harsher thermal and chemical conditions. It’s used in many applications including laboratory equipment and cookware (things you put in the freezer or oven).

Annealed — This is the process of slowly cooling a glass object to “relieve residual internal stresses” that can occur during manufacturing/creation. Small objects can be annealed naturally due to their size; however, large objects need a controlled environment to cool properly.

Tempering – Often confused with annealing, but it’s not the same. Tempering creates a stronger form of glass.

Stress — This is a complex idea. Some stress points in glass can make those parts weaker and more susceptible to breakage. However, there are some instances where glass stress can make things stronger.

Some makers say it’s impossible to have a piece of glass that’s 100 percent free of stress, while others say it is. There is also a certain amount you can have while being safe to use.

Interesting fact: Adding different colors of glass into your creation also adds stress.

Pyrex — Pyrex is not a kind of glass. It’s a brand. Like “Kleenex” is a brand, but it’s been mistakenly integrated into our language to mean the same as tissues.

Important note: Keep in mind that these descriptions are the watered-down versions that are easier to digest.

Glass Sex Toy Safety

Even a well-crafted toy should be retired if it gets dropped. There could be cracks or newly introduced stresses that you can’t see. The same goes for if it’s been chipped. Yes, you’ll hear of makers dropping their toys to test their strength, but still, better safe than sorry.

Weak points — this is where the real danger comes in. Toys with very thin parts/sections should be avoided because they have the high risk of breaking.

Soda-lime glass (even annealed) is not a good bedmate for temperature play. Yes, you can warm it or cool it slightly, but avoid anything else, lest you end up with cracking. Stainless steel is a better option if you want to get into this kink.

Checking for Stress

I have DangerousLily.com and one of my co-workers to thank for this next tip… There’s one way you can see the stress of your glass sex toy — keep in mind that it’s not the be-all-end-all method but it will at least give you a good idea in what direction the quality is headed.

  • Your toy needs to be clear glass — colored glass won’t work for this test
  • You need your computer monitor — a blank white screen
  • You need a polarizing camera lens — however, my design co-worker also said that a pair of 3D glasses will also yield similar results
  • Make sure the room is dark
  • Hold the toy between the lens and the monitor … and any stress points will show up as rainbows
  • Indigo or brown colors mean there’s stress, but it’s not something to worry about
  • A little bit of rainbow action isn’t the end of the world. Any significant rainbow action means the toy has lots of stress points and may eventually break.

So, in short … Well-made glass sex toys (annealed borosilicate or soda lime) are completely safe as long as they’re not dropped or put through extreme temperature changes.

 

Exploring the Safety of Glass Sex Toys by Robyn Hemington originally appeared in XBIZ

How to Boost Your Adult Retail Knowledge With Online Resources

In business, knowledge is key. The more you know, the more you can expand, increase your sales and push your business in the best direction to protect its future. We learn more about the industry each day and build up a great sense of understanding as our knowledge banks become full.

Whether it’s knowledge of brands, how products work, tips and techniques for getting the best out of your sex toys or sales predictions of what’s hot and what’s not, I honestly think I know everything about everything within our industry. But almost every day, I’m learning something new, shattering this vein theory of mine. I’m so pleased I’m always learning, because if you master a sector of the market, where do you go from there? But I digress.

Anyway, take this hypothetical scenario: You’re new to the adult pleasure products market and you’ve always wanted to open up your own store. It’s been a life-long passion of yours and it’s finally happening! You set up your website and design your branding and you’re thrilled and raring to go! But you’re suddenly met with the vast wall of pleasure products that forms the basis of the industry. You’re bombarded with bondage gear. Drowning in dildos. Showered in sex toys. Suddenly the task becomes overwhelming! Should it really be this hard?

In our industry, we’re blessed with a market that isn’t dominated by just one or two brands. We have a plethora of products that we can choose from, ranging from the sexy and sensual to full-on fetish. For those just starting out, it can be incredibly daunting and a little intimidating in some cases. With very little knowledge of these products or the industry as a whole, those new to the industry can feel a little naive. So, where is the best place to build their knowledge and help to ease them in?

Here are some great places to learn more about the adult industry (for both new and experienced industry folk!)

Facebook

Ok, if you’re not on Facebook (why not?), get on Facebook! You’ll probably not only need a social media presence for your new company, but you’ll need to network with others in the industry who can help and support new businesses. There are a number of private groups whose sole purpose is to help each other, generate business and advertise, and demonstrate new products and brands. It’s a really useful resource to stay up-to-date with the latest news in the industry and you can gain a great deal of useful knowledge and contacts from these groups.

Adult Industry Media

There are adult industry magazines and media companies (e.g. XBIZ) who share news, stories and product information and press releases. Being subscribed to at least one of these media companies is pretty essential to keep you on top of things in the adult industry and having that magazine pop through the letterbox every now and again can inspire you, and help make those important decisions (like “what brands should I buy?”) easier. Check your locale’s main source and get yourself signed up.

The Human Touch

It’s important to make connections with other people. Whether you know someone within the industry already or you’ve just added them to Facebook, chat with them and find out about what they do. Most people are happy to help and share their knowledge with those lacking in it and you may even hear some news from a sales rep or brand before it’s officially announced …

Emails and phone calls are a great way of communication, so make sure you use them!

Social/Networking Events

Who doesn’t love a good industry party? (And in our industry, things can get pretty wild!) As above, show yourself around and network with others face-to-face. Explain your business and what your future plans are. Talk with brand ambassadors, suck up all the knowledge you can and even make business deals, all while sipping a cocktail in your best formalware. And then jump on the mechanical bull, try your hand at dildo darts and wake up not remembering any of it. Surreal!

Google Is Your Friend

Please, please, please use the internet! I don’t feel I should have to say this these days, but I fear that some still don’t do their own research and then base things like buying decisions on what a sales rep said. Yes, it may be their bestseller, but it’s their bestseller! It doesn’t mean it will be your bestseller! Does it fit your customer base? Do you even like it? If not, it’s probably best to avoid. If you’re not sure, search for it online. Read reviews, experiences and blogs on the product. Research the demand for the product, the reputation of the brand and whether customers even like it.

Use the internet as an extension of your own mind. All the information is already in there, you just need to find it.

Experience and knowledge will grow in time. As I said earlier, I’m still learning almost every day, but the knowledge I’ve gained over the last decade has helped shape the future of my business and the direction I am moving in. You need to be passionate about the product you are selling, and with this passion comes a great thirst for knowledge. Soak it all up, no matter where you get the information from. Whether you store it in your mind, digitally or even on paper, you never know when it may become useful.

How to Boost Your Adult Retail Knowledge With Online Resources by Daniel Miller originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look At Choosing Toys

Choosing a toy, whether your first or 50th toy can be exceptionally overwhelming. There are so many choices, styles, colors, promises of the best orgasms of your life!

It can be extremely daunting to get a new toy, be so excited to open it up and then look at is as if it is a foreign object from outer space!

Things to ask yourself:

Do I want internal or external or both?  This can really help you narrow down. Given that most women need external stimulation, often something for your clitoris is great option. If however you love the feeling of fullness inside, then something internal may be more suitable. Keep in mind that many internal toys can be used to stimulate your clitoris as well!

Is it just for me or my partner as well? If it is just for you, then think about which areas you prefer. If however it is for use with your partner, then it is important to consider how they will feel. Some folks are comfortable with their partners using toys and actually find it erotic. However, for a first time, perhaps a more benign looking toy could be more fun? Try and chat to your partner about this. Many people love using toys on their partners so you may be surprised!

How obvious do I want my toy to be?

In our dream world, buying or talking or owning sex toys will be as common and well accepted as condoms. However, if you are concerned about your toy, feel free to choose a toy that is a little more subtle. Perhaps something like Aphrodite (link to Aphrodite product here)

Where are you using your toy?

This may sound strange, however if you want something to take away with you, or even out on a date with your partner then choosing a toy that allows you to do that may be helpful. All our toys are USB rechargeable so you can pop them in your bag and take them wherever your heart desires

Comfort

Last but certainly not least, how comfortable are you with your toy and do you love the way it looks and makes you feel. Our self image and consciousness is a completely internal feeling. Making sure you are excited and curious and ready for fun will always help make the process more enjoyable.

Choosing  Toys by Lara Pack originally appeared on Elixir Play

Opinion: Why Larry Flynt Was Crucial in the Fight for Free Expression

 
Almost all the Larry Flynt obituaries this past week emphasized his dual role as a successful businessman who built a massive, multi-sector adult industry empire from scratch, and also as a First Amendment warrior and ceaseless fighter in the seemingly endless struggle for the right to have open, free sexual expression in America.

The obits also pointed out — quite correctly — that Flynt’s reputation with the general public is tinted by the 1996 biopic “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” an award-winning, big Hollywood production that crystallized the image of the Hustler publisher as a colorful, profane anti-censorship warrior.

Though the film was very much an “authorized biography” — it derived much of its narrative from Flynt’s mid-1990s memoir “An Unseemly Man: My Life as Pornographer, Pundit, and Social Outcast” and its subject readily participated in its promotion — the Milos Forman-directed movie did simplify the multitude of Flynt’s legal battles against the forces of sexual repression and hypocrisy.

If the answer to the question “why was Larry Flynt so crucial in the fight for free expression?” is less tidy than what a Hollywood screenplay demands, it’s no less crucial to understand the unique impact of this headstrong Kentucky-by-way-of-Ohio troublemaker on American jurisprudence and cultural life.

The Real Deal

“He was the real deal. I’ve represented a lot of people who used the First Amendment to try to gain some sort of economic advantage. Flynt wasn’t that way at all and every case we filed on his behalf was because he was trying to move the needle,” Paul Cambria — his longtime attorney and free speech expert — told the Buffalo, N.Y. NPR affiliate as he reflected on his famous client’s passing.

When I interviewed Larry Flynt, then 77 years old, in his Beverly Hills office for the special January 2020 issue of XBIZ World — which turned out to be one of the last career-spanning interviews he would agree to do — he spoke about the core of his philosophy, which would end up putting him on a collision course against the professional moralists.

I asked him about what made Hustler — which he decided to start in 1974 as a third major adult magazine to compete against the already-established Playboy and Penthouse — unique.

“People were saying, ‘Well, how is Hustler gonna be different from Penthouse or Playboy?’” he explained, pointing out that, unlike him, the other publications were building sex into an aspirational lifestyle item to go along expensive stereos, martini recipes and Mercedes ads.

“I said, Hustler readers aren’t that way,” he continued, his original pitch readily flowing from his lips. “They like their sex straight and raw. No pretension. No wrapping our girls in sophisticated editorial content to give them ‘socially redeeming value.’”

And then he stated, “Sex in itself is socially redeeming.”

A Surprisingly Revolutionary Concept

That sex in itself does not need to make apologies for existing was in 1974 — and perhaps even more so, and surprisingly, still is in 2021 — a revolutionary concept for many.

The Ohio-based Hustler magazine took off within a year of its creation, becoming a booming business that prompted the Wall Street Journal to call it “not only the fastest-growing men’s magazine around, but one of the fastest-growing ever.”

As always, it was Hustler and Flynt’s financial success and growing mainstream acceptance that predictably attracted the attention of the religiously inspired moralists of the time. Flynt was unapologetic as a pornographer and adult club owner, and this rankled the guardians of morality.

Instead of hiding what he did or being discreet with his lifestyle, Flynt purchased a palatial home in the extremely conservative Columbus neighborhood of Bexley. He was taunting the establishment, and, in true Flynt style, he did not care.

Flynt’s first serious encounter with the War On Porn warriors occurred during the 1976 bicentennial, when Cincinnati prosecutors were prompted by a religious lobby called Citizens for Decency Through Law. The group was funded by a local Catholic businessman named Charles Keating.

Years later, in the early 1990s, Keating would be famously convicted on federal and state charges of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy for his role in the infamous Savings & Loan scandal, which provoked a financial crisis.

“Before he fucked the savings and loan industry,” Flynt wrote in his memoir a few years later, “Keating tried to prevent the portrayal of fucking in magazines.”

Becoming a First Amendment Warrior

Flynt fought Keating’s moralists hard from the get-go. He organized a grassroots group called Ohioans for a Free Press and held a rally. “We’re talking about the censorship of a magazine with three-million circulation, sold in 25 different countries with an estimated 15 million readers,” he harangued the crowd Kentucky-preacher style. “That’s 15 million voices that have a right to be heard. Now, either we have a free press or we don’t.”

“One of the greatest things that we have as American citizens, goddammit, is the right to be left alone,” Flynt sentenced, once again, establishing another unmovable principle on his lifelong Free Speech credo. “And me and my readers deserve that right.”

For the first of what would become many, many future media appearances, Flynt preached Free Speech and the glories of the First Amendment in an impromptu press conference in front of a throng of mainstream reporters wielding microphones and tape recorders.

Fighting corrupt, hypocritical Charles Keating in 1977 Cincinnati, the 34-year-old pornographer and businessman had encountered the second part of what would end up being his legacy: anti-censorship fighter.

Flynt lost many battles along the way, including that first one. He was a consumate gambler, but in this case the deck was stacked. Keating’s Citizens for Decency Through Law was operating in tandem with the prosecutor.

Summing up the case against Hustler, the prosecutor told the jury, “Sex is a beautiful thing — there’s no question about it — but only in the proper environment.”

Then, producing a piece of chalk out of his pocket, he drew a line across the courtroom floor and literally said “It’s time to draw the line against obscenity.”

Flynt was convicted by a stern judge named Morrisey. In the movie “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” he playfully agreed to play Morrisey, his first adverse judge, sentencing Woody Harrelson-as-Flynt to “11,000 in fines and 7-to-25, no bond!”

Ohio conservatives would continue to periodically pester Flynt and Hustler businesses for decades, always under moralistic excuses.

More Stacked Decks

The Ohio prosecution — and his unapologetic Free Speech antics — made Flynt a national figure. Talk shows and newspapers spoke of the case, even if the gatekeepers of morality ensured that Flynt could never be portrayed as a hero.

“I think Hustler is tawdry,” America’s most influential talk show host and nightly monologist Johnny Carson told the New Yorker in 1977, “but I also think the First Amendment means what it says, then it protects Flynt as much as anyone else.”

“As far as I’m concerned,” Carson continued, “people should be allowed to read and see whatever they like, provided it doesn’t injure others. If they want to read pornography until it comes out of their ears, the let them. But if I go on the ‘Tonight Show’ and defend Hustler, the viewers are going to tag me as that guy who’s into pornography. And that’s gonna hurt me as an entertainer, which is what I am.”

Another deck, this time of mainstream media and public opinion, was stacked against Flynt. Again, he didn’t care.

While he was fighting the Cincinnati conviction, Flynt very publicly and briefly converted — and the magazine — to evangelical Christianity. It was during this period that another obscenity case popped up in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Flynt had recently decided to challenge the Georgia morality police by opening a pop-up Hustler shop in Atlanta and selling the magazine himself.

It was during a subsequent 1978 Lawrenceville trial fighting local obscenity legislation that Flynt was shot by a white supremacist serial killer, who was reportedly indignant at Hustler’s depiction of an interracial couple.

Following the assassination attempt, the Lawrenceville judge declared a mistrial. Flynt, in unimaginable pain, returned to Georgia a year after the shooting to face off against his enemies.

In a 1984 interview he said that before the shooting he used to spend 20 percent of his time fucking with “them” (the Man, the establishment, the hypocrites, etc.) and 80 percent having sex.

“Now that I can’t fuck,” he continued, “I spend 100 percent of my time fucking with ‘them.’ See, I’m paralyzed from the waist down, but I ain’t paralyzed from the waist up.”

“That’s why I’m their worst nightmare come true,” he added.

Fighting Through Personal Chaos

After he moved his business operation to Los Angeles in 1979, comes a chaotic period that those who know the man’s story only through “The People vs. Larry Flynt” tend to find confusing. And that makes sense: between 1979 and 1983, the L.A.-based Flynt was going through the painful aftermath of the shooting, erratic medical treatments, mental health misdiagnoses and lifestyle-related turmoil.

Still, he managed to propel himself into the national conversation, in a series of legal appearances and stunts that culminated in his 1983 campaign for the Republican nomination for President, challenging one of his main targets of vitriol, Ronald Reagan.

Here’s where understanding his free speech legacy gets tricky for many people: the iconic images of Flynt in his trademark gold wheelchair wearing a diaper, or a T-shirt saying “Fuck This Court,” or American flags as apparel, or telling off the Supreme Court — all of which were recreated in the Hollywood biopic — don’t directly relate to Flynt’s work as a pornographer and as a publisher of sex images.

A lot of his legal troubles in the early 1980s — including the time he described the Supreme Court with an incredibly obscene quip — stem from a lawsuit over a lewd cartoon mocking Penthouse founder Bob Guccione and his then-girlfriend that Hustler published in 1976. Others escalated from Flynt’s involvement in a bizarre, convoluted incident surrounding the criminal drugs case against car manufacturer John DeLorean.

Both major Flynt-related cases cited in free speech jurisprudence do not involve his publishing of sex photos: they’re both about comedy material, as he understood it, aimed at personal foes.

Perhaps the most famous case stems from Flynt’s publication of a Mad Magazine-style parody of a Campari ad that implied Rev. Jerry Falwell — the nation’s most famous religious moralist and War on Porn crusader — had sex with his own mother.

The Falwell legal battle is what eventually enshrined Flynt as a First Amendment warrior and it also provided the rousing anti-censorship climax to “The People vs. Larry Flynt.”

It’s important to stress that Flynt was indeed being targeted by the forces of morality because he was an unrepentant pornographer. But his major battles were fought over the right to publish raunchy comedy bits he personally enjoyed — outhouse humor of the kind a pre-joining-the Navy teenage Flynt would have enjoyed with a rolled cigarette and a swig of moonshine.

The Right to Fight ‘a Religious Phony’

Falwell’s lawsuit came at a time when Flynt had been jailed over one of the many contempt of court incidents he had become embroiled in. His state of mind was dark, but he knew what he had to do: keep fighting.

“As far as I was concerned,” he later wrote about the period, “there was no justice, no God, no rationality left in the world. The government had done nothing to find or arrest to man who had shot me, the medical profession had done nothing to alleviate my pain and the legal profession was persecuting me for expressing my passionately held opinion that Jerry Falwell was a religious phony.”

During the Falwell trial, Flynt continued stating his beliefs. “Free expression is absolute,” he told the opposing counsel, “as long as no one is hurt.”

“I feel you have a right to say whatever you want to,” he continued.

“No matter how somebody’s feelings may be affected?” asked Falwell’s lawyer.

“Ah, you’re talking about matters of taste. What I’m trying to say is that no one should be imprisoned for what they say! If you don’t like what is being said on television, turn it off. If you don’t like what’s in Hustler, don’t buy it.”

The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, where Flynt’s attorney Alan Isaacson (played in the movie by Edward Norton) delivered a lasting argument in favor of free expression in 1987.

“There is public interest in having Hustler express its view that what Jerry Falwell says, as the ad parody indicates — is B.S.”

“And,” he added, “Hustler has every right to say that somebody who’s out there campaigning against it, saying, ‘Don’t read [their] magazine and [they] are poison on the minds of America and don’t fornicate and don’t drink liquor’ — Hustler has every right to say that man is full of B.S.”

“And that is what this ad parody says,” Isaacman concluded. “It put him in a ridiculous setting. Instead of Jerry Falwell speaking from the television with a beatific look on his face and a Bible in his hand, Hustler is saying, ‘Let’s deflate this stuffed shirt; let’s bring him down to our level.'”

The Supreme Court published its decision in 1988 and they ruled unanimously in favor of Flynt and Hustler, with the Chief Justice writing, “The fact that society might find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it.”

‘Fuck You If You Can’t Take a Joke’

In his Hustler editorial celebrating the decision, Flynt wrote another summation of his Free Speech and free sexual expression philosophy:

I sincerely hope that this victory over censorship signals the swing of the pendulum back toward a more open society, where sexual communication can be conducted freely and with an accompanying honesty.

“hose traits have been sorely lacking in our initial approaches to the AIDS crisis and sex education, and their absence hinders people’s ability to make informed decisions about disease prevention, contraception and abortion.

Hustler has always promoted the concept that sexual openness requires sexual responsibility, just as maintaining our civil freedoms requires the responsible effort to vote, pay taxes and obey the laws and legal precedents of the land.

I am very happy to have helped ensure that one of those precedents guarantees every American the right to make fun, particularly of those people who try to hold themselves above the rest of the world.

The title of the editorial is “Fuck You If You Can’t Take a Joke.”

‘I Think We Gotta Be Free’

Nearing the end of his life and many tribulations, Flynt retained the boyish hellraiser glint in his eye that one can see in countless pictures from throughout his more than five decades in the limelight.

Back in December 2019, I asked Flynt if he considered himself idealistic about the prospects of holding power to scrutiny and fighting the good fight against the self-appointed moralists and hypocrites.

“This country is pretty corrupt…” he told me, before trailing off into one of his elder statesmanlike reflective moods, followed by a few seconds of silence.

“This country is pretty corrupt,” he then repeated, now with more intent. And then he fixed his probing eyes on me, chuckling, “I guess at heart, I’m an anarchist.”

Later, when I asked him about what in his opinion drove the War on Porn moralists that continue fighting against sexual expression — his old enemies from Morality in Media have rebranded as NCOSE (National Center on Sexual Exploitation) and are funding most major attempts to restrict access to porn — Flynt offered a wise summation that reflected a lifetime of fighting the good fight.

“I think we gotta be free,” he said. “We can’t be afraid to be free. Freedom is defending the thought that we hate rather than the thought that we love the most, you know.”

“A lot of people are afraid to be free.”

Main Image: Larry Flynt photographed in his office, December 2019 (Photo: Gustavo Turner)

Opinion: Why Larry Flynt Was Crucial in the Fight for Free Expression by Gustavo Turner originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at the Lessons COVID-19 Has Taught Adult Retailers

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash 

Life as we know it has changed dramatically over the last year. Never did we realize that 2020 would bring such disruption to modern times.

But here we are. We’ve changed our routine and adapted to the new normal. Welcome to the future!

Things may eventually return to what we previously classed as “normal,” although this is probably a long way off. COVID-19 has forced businesses to adapt their working methods and changed the way they generate sales, connect with clients and build working relationships. However, these changes may have already been in progress. Has COVID-19 accelerated the natural change in business and forced us to adapt sooner than we anticipated?

Let’s think about this. It’s easier than ever to connect with others through a wide range of different methods. Gone are the days where we could only participate in business meetings in-person and could only communicate via letters, phone calls or that dreaded fax machine (thankfully I’m just young enough to have missed out on using these at work, but I’ve heard they were a real nightmare!) No longer are we reliant on an internet connection that made noises like a breakdancing robot and took hours to download an MP3 track (unfortunately I am young enough to remember dial-up internet!).

So that leaves us in a position where we have the means, the ability and the technology to diversify and change the way in which we conduct business. We’ve had this for a number of years, yet something was keeping us from breaking out of our comfort zone and exploring these new opportunities. Maybe COVID-19 was the push businesses needed to catch up to where we should be…

So what are the advantages of embracing this technology and leaving tradition behind? Let’s take an international business meeting for example. For big corporate companies, these meetings often involved the coming together of several of your company representatives with others from potential trading partners. They may involve traveling halfway around the world, requiring transport (usually in the form of flights) and accommodation for all representatives involved. Then there is food, drinks and other expenses … It can all get hugely expensive, not to mention the pollution caused by transport and travel (and presently also putting your colleagues and friends at greater risk of contracting COVID-19).

During the last year or so, businesses have realized that these meetings can be done virtually, greatly reducing the enormous costs that they can rack up and also being much greener for the planet.

Yes, we still get that dreaded “how do we end the call” moment, and sometimes run into poor connections resulting in only being able to hear half of what is said, but there are always ways around these small issues.

Video calling is a powerful tool, allowing us to work from anywhere that has an internet connection (which in this age, is almost everywhere!) And what can be better than getting up and out of bed, jumping in the shower, getting half-dressed and plonking yourself in your virtual office (making sure that the camera doesn’t show that you’re only wearing your boxer shorts on your lower half)?

Virtual trade shows are another phenomenon that have burst onto the scene over the last six months, and just work so, so well. You may not get quite as much socializing at the bar or sightseeing around the local area as you would do in-person, but you can still meet with suppliers and trading partners easily, and it makes these shows much more accessible to those that may not have necessarily been able to visit in-person (due to things like distance, costs or personal circumstances). Having recently participated in two of them, I have made a huge number of new contacts and signed deals with partners I never ever knew before these shows. They are an important part of the industry and having access to them in such a convenient way has helped the industry to thrive in these crazy times.

Another thing that COVID-19 has railroaded adult retailers into is building an online presence. Many retailers had previously only relied on their own bricks-and- mortar store, and although no one could predict the devastation and disruption COVID-19 has caused, they hadn’t built a virtual presence for times when their business is forced to close to walk-in customers.

In modern life, having an online presence for a business is essential! More shoppers shop online than in-store in the U.K., and although this is unfortunate as it becomes less personal, it’s just fact. Customers enjoy the convenience of being able to order on their phone, tablet or computer and have a courier drop it off the next day. Some still do enjoy shopping in-store, but it’s important to have a balance of both physical and online retail. When one must close, the other becomes your lifeline and carries your business through these tough times.

When you have an online presence, the customer then has an option to shop online or in-store, potentially increasing your sales. You effectively open a new virtual store, and if you have just one physical store, it can double your brand and retail presence.

Most retailers that have physical stores tend to find that their online store is their biggest moneymaker (when done correctly), and their physical store acts more like a walk-in warehouse — so if their walk-in warehouse needs to close because of things like COVID-19, their business doesn’t have to close and their online sales pull them through until they can reopen again.

In times like these, we have to think smart. Rather than finding ways around cheating the rules and regulations (such as trying to find loop-holes), come up with alternative ways to trade. Embrace modern technology and figure out better ways of doing what you currently do. Diversify, adapt and future-proof your business.

After all, you never know what’s just around the corner…

 

A Look at the Lessons COVID-19 Has Taught Adult Retailers by Daniel Miller originally appeared in XBIZ

Lovehoney’s Curated Set of Social Media Tips for Retailers

Social media has proven itself to be a valuable channel for adult product marketers, allowing us to reach and convert customers to the world of pleasure tools.

Renowned for an agile approach, social media marketing requires an ability to keep up to date with the latest social media trends and developments, to make sure all opportunities are being explored.

To that end, Lovehoney’s team of in-house social media experts have curated up to the minute B2B Social Media Guidelines..

Sales Executive Jade Bawa, rounds up her favorite tips from the directions to help retailers spread the word of sexual happiness effectively with their own social media marketing campaigns.

Getting the most from captions

Visuals are often known as the most important aspect of popular social media sites such as Instagram. However, a snappy caption will go the extra mile with enticing your followers into engaging with your post. They also help to give valuable context, whilst allowing the audience to get to know your brand a little better.

When it comes to writing captions, having a clear Tone of Voice (TOV) is important and understanding the brand personality helps to establish this. For example, Lovehoney are fun and flirty, never crude or patronizing.

Hashtag hints

Hashtags allow non-followers to find your content, and if they like what they see, they may decide to hit the follow button. Plus, they’re incredibly useful for jumping onto current trends and joining a much wider conversation.

Make sure hashtags are relevant to the post and are terms that people are searching for. If you are posting about Fifty Shades of Grey for example, it’s helpful to use hashtags that are popular, but ones that aren’t oversaturated with content. For example, you could use #shadesofgrey which has over 300K posts, rather than #fiftyshadesofgrey which has over 2 million posts. This should help your content be seen by lots of different accounts.

Images and Videos

Your images and videos should be clear and interesting so that your audience can engage with it.

When using imagery, you should avoid using anything that is too text heavy or with too many images in a carousel, as this has proven to not be very engaging.

Videos should be entertaining or informative and never boring! So make sure that your video content gets straight to the point and is able to capture your audience’s attention straight away.

Lovehoney’s Curated Set of Social Media Tips for Retailers originally appeared on XBIZ

6 Ideas for Practicing Self Love

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

 

It’s that time of year. The time when everything comes out in heart shapes, where we are bombarded with love themes and told that we should be so excited for this single, random day which is the love of love day that is Valentine’s Day.

Some of us will be super excited, others dreading the day and some just wont care either way. Regardless of how you feel about it, it’s next to impossible to miss being reminded of it. So, this blog is not about Valentine’s Day. But something far more important, self-love. I think we like to talk about this a lot. We say love your body, body positive, be kind to yourself, me time. All these amazing buzz words that make our hearts swoon with desire at the thought of them. But in practice, its just not that easy.

Between our busy schedules, competing interests, social media highlights reels and societal images; loving ourselves becomes much harder to do in practice than we may think. So how can we change this?

I think it starts with changing our expectations. Sometimes the idea of having “me time” or feeling good about ourselves seems so far removed from our reality that we give up. If we just focused instead on tiny steps, it may be more achievable. So here are some ideas.

Do one thing every day just for you.

Maybe it’s a bath, an uninterrupted coffee, watching your favourite TV show, calling a friend or meditating. Whatever it is. Just one thing. Every. Single. Day.

Wear an outfit that makes you feel good.

It doesn’t have to be stock-standard sexual. Doesn’t need to be everyone else’s cup of tea. But just something that makes you feel good about you. And wear it consciously

Surround yourself with people who lift you up.

That is both in real life and on social media. Social media can be a rabbit hole. We all put our best foot forward and often don’t acknowledge all the trials and tribulations that make up our everyday life. How often do you see someone who posts the amazing upright bikini shot, and then sits down and it’s a different story? We are all human. Most of us get that Sharpei looking skin after a while. It’s okay! It’s normal!

Find something about your body you love.

It could be your eyes, your mouth, your breasts, your legs. Just one thing. And compliment yourself. We are all so quick to complain. We have a bad experience and ask to speak to the manager. How often do you ask to speak to the manager to say how amazing your service was? We do the same with our bodies. We complain about how it looks to us and feels. But do you ever tell yourself how good you look? And if you don’t love it all yet, start small with just that one thing.

Look after your health. Mental and physical.

Feeling good in your mind is as important as physical health. It’s okay to not be okay and reach out for help if you feel you need it.

Explore your body

One of the reasons I am so passionate about this business is the way I try to encourage women to explore their bodies. It may seem silly, but most of us are not used to it. As women, we are often raised to be isolated in our pleasure and very few resources existed to help us. This is starting to change but is still extremely limited.

When we explore, we allow ourselves to get comfortable with all parts of our body. The way our skin feels, the grooves, the scars, the marks, the reminders of who we are and how we go there. And if we do this in a positive way, sometimes it can help us learn to appreciate these things. That C-Section scar that used to bother me, becomes my tiger stripe for the 2 beautiful girls I have. The stretch marks – well they show me how amazing my body was to grow the 2 humans. And those 4 scars from my laparoscopy show me how my body recovered from endometriosis which I no longer have.

Changing the way we look at these things makes all the difference in the world. Using pleasure products along with this, enhances the ability for us to love our bodies. When we get to experience pleasure in our own way, on our own terms and just for ourselves, there really is no better expression of loving our body. Taking the time to see what feels good and knowing you have full control is empowering. The ability to use with or without a partner means that you get the choice. It is liberating.

So, whether you choose to use a product or simply take one of these tips for yourself today, I hope when Valentine’s Day comes around that you find something about you to love. Something about you to celebrate. You deserve it.

Self Love by Lara Pack originally appeared on Elixir Play

What Can Retailers Do for a Successful Start to 2021?

2020 was a roller coaster of a year! Retailers faced a unique blend of challenges with the pandemic, lockdowns, anxious shoppers focused on safety, and a struggling economy that officially entered into a recession in February 2020.

2021 may feel uncertain. But there are things retailers, both online and brick-and-mortar, can do to prepare for a successful year. Allow me to share some options to consider in order to increase your sales.

Retailer Reservations

People are becoming used to booking reservations online and feeling the need for a more private shopping experience. Brick-and-mortar stores can create a reservation system to provide shoppers who are reluctant to wait in lines with a more private and casual shopping experience.

Online retailers can go one step further than utilizing customized chatbots to make consumer product suggestions. Shoppers can sign up for one-on-one shopping calls with store employees. Safety-conscious consumers can make appointments to speak with educated store employees to find the products they need, which can be conveniently delivered right to their door.

Curated Collections

Consumers are becoming more educated about intimate matters and want to give new sexual experiences a try. Many consumers have no idea where to start when it comes to choosing products to match their needs.

Offering specifically curated collections can not only be helpful to shoppers, but it can also appeal to the emotional side of people looking to make personal purchases and needing guidance. Being able to offer this level of shopping experience with strategic recommendations can allow your customers to purchase exactly what they need for Kegel exercises, prostate play or expanding sexual horizons.

Perhaps your curated collections can be seasonal according to shopping patterns. Retailers can create a section of their store to spotlight a certain sexual topic, while online shops can create a microsite within their site dedicated to a specific product category. Gucci created its own site-within-a-site for their 2018 Spring/Summer collection and Aesop’s Taxonomy of Design allows shoppers to browse materials, colors and texture collections according to their preferences.

These steps can create better connection between you as a retailer and your customers, who could really use your advice and guidance in the upcoming year.

Immersive Customization

You’ve helped your customers choose the perfect products and then — you just usher them out the door. I suggest maintaining that customer connection and building loyalty by taking things a step further and providing your customers with additional tools to fully immerse them in their experiences.

This means creating custom downloadable playlists, providing information on how to set the stage for date night, and offering a discount on a companion product to something they’ve bought. Consider downloadable coloring pages that depict a sexy scene or an educational anatomy lesson. Supply them with a video link on how a beginner can wrap bondage tape.

Use your imagination and ingenuity to provide a little something extra for your shoppers that can give them a more immersive experience and allow them to better enjoy the products they’ve purchased from you.

Partner Projects

Have you considered partnering with a bridal shop or venue to provide discounts for the bridal party and information on what products can make the happy couple’s honeymoon an incredible event? Or partnering with a yoga studio by offering discounts on Kegel exercisers that can be worn during pelvic floor classes?

It’s time to look to your own community and see how you can partner with other businesses to better serve shoppers, which can increase your bottom line in return. Consider trying a pop-up partnership with another business to gauge how this may work for you and your store. Join your community’s “shop local” program team.

Find your community connection and partners whom you can band together with to make 2021 a better year for shopping experiences.

Subscription Economy

We’ve all seen subscription services go from pharmaceuticals to beauty products to snack boxes to about anything under the sun, including bacon. According to the McKinsey & Company consulting firm, 49 percent of shoppers are currently using a subscription service of some sort.

Subscription services thrive because consumers see the vital need for a particular product and want to make sure they don’t run out of it. The great part about subscription services are that they can be counted on for long-term income. Being able to charge shoppers’ credit cards on a regular basis can help give retailers peace of mind.

Consider setting up a subscription service for your customers. Start with essential necessities like condoms, lubricants, toy cleaners and enhancement products. Listen to subscriber feedback and add or remove items to make your offerings match your shoppers’ goals. Services could be expanded into seasonal sex toy shipments as well.

Easy to Locate

Research from Statista shows that in-store conversion rates are higher than online conversions (20 percent versus 3 percent). Their research finds that stores are making it easier for shoppers to find what they need and receive the in-person assistance they’re looking for.

Both in-store and online, retailers can benefit by making products easy to locate. Consider grouping product types together and educating store staff (or supplying online content), which can make it simple for consumers to finalize purchasing decisions.

2021 Successful Start Recap:

  • Retailer Reservations
  • Curated Collections
  • Immersive Customization
  • Partner Projects
  • Subscription Economy
  • Easy to Locate

Be Flexible in 2021

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we all need to be more flexible. Make your retail operation a priority in early 2021 by trying a few new ways to increase sales and modernize your business. Seek ways to provide better customer interactions and build loyalty. Be open to partnering with others that can provide your business with a stronger base.

Retailers are important not only for the economy, but for the health of communities everywhere. Make 2021 your year to think outside the box and create unique shopping experiences to connect with your customers. Make things personal this January and take steps to jumpstart your retail success.

What Can Retailers Do for a Successful Start to 2021? by Dr. Sunny Rodgers originally appeared in XBIZ

Why Wand Massagers Are the Go-To for Retail Sales

 

It has been a minute since I have talked about one of my personal favorite toys, the wand. With a significant boost of both customer interest and dollar sales in this category, it seems like a good time to bring them up again.

Wands, to me, are the “little black dress” of sex toys. They are a staple of every store and what I believe to be a favorite in most customers’ toy collections. Why are wands among the biggest must-haves for stores right now?

They are a bigger part of the overall wellness movement in retail, rather than just being another sex toy or vibrator option. They provide therapy for a large range of body issues, making them a highly dual-purposed item for customers to consider. With so many brick-and-mortar stores looking to transition from a sex toy store to a wellness boutique, products like wands matter. Being able to host non-sexual sections such as sports therapy or general wellness items, can often provide a soft spot to land for customers who do not quite know what they are looking for, or where to start.

“Wands are the ‘little black dress’ of sex toys.”

Wands have so much variety to choose from. Before you say “OMG, not another wand,” hear me out. There are wands of all shapes and sizes, and while it is not realistic to carry every brand, you should have a small variety of core wand shapes and sizes, as well as different price points. Carrying one brand of wand can be a disservice to both your store and your customer, while carrying too many wands can be overwhelming and leave someone at a loss on where to even start. We are fortunate that our industry is well versed in this category and you can truly find something for your store and still have it feel unique for your customers.

Something else to consider is how far wands have come in the last few years. We are all familiar with the classic two-speed style, but what about some of the new features that wands now offer that make them highly competitive with the rest of the items in your store? One of my favorite features is the new digital interface available with some wands that let you customize your experience. Via customer feedback, I’ve long heard about how challenging it can be for customers to scroll through speeds and settings so these new digital interfaces can be the solution that customers have been looking for. I also love the waterproofing and sound reduction feature on most wands. More power is bound to have a bit more sound, but for what we ask of wands regarding performance, sound is minimal in comparison. I also love that silicone has found its way beyond plush wand heads and now covers the arm or handle of the wand. Being fully covered in silicone makes wands feel and look more luxurious, allowing for those higher price tags along with added comfort for long-term use.

Do not be fooled into thinking that some of these smaller compact wands can’t compete with the patterns and power of their larger counterparts. Small and mighty is my favorite go-to if I get the opportunity to help someone on the sales floor while out visiting a store. Having a small powerful wand that is wireless to go with you anywhere, waterproof to take in the shower, and compact enough to throw in your purse or bag hits all major bonus points for me. The price point on these smaller wands is also a big perk — lots of power without the price tag.

Attachments! I think we get so focused on building the sale in retail, we forget what a cool add-on attachments can really be and often overlook them. I think of adding on an attachment as doubling the value of your wand. For example, if you add on a stroker, you now potentially have something for him and her. These types of wand add-ons make the wand multi-use for a small additional purchase. No other toy section has an attachment concept like wands do; use it to your advantage. Have a customer who is not sure what they want? Suggest a wand and a G-spot attachment to offer internal and external stimulation. Let your customer experiment and play a bit without investing a ton of money so they can come back and buy what they really want!

My last bit of advice on how to help people choose a wand: Show them just the head and explain the type of vibration each wand has. Having the handles with all the buttons and cords can over-complicate a sale that does not need it. Let the customer feel the vibration while the wands are all lined up together so they can see what you mean about deep and rumbly, versus fine and pinpointed. Show them how the attachment can help change the feel of the vibration, building the sale from the very beginning.

Wands can be your best friends on the sales floor if you let them! Try picking out a favorite wand in the $50, $100 and $150 categories to help keep your opinion open to more than just one brand or option. These are great price points to group together and keep a wider audience for your wand customer base.

I hope you all have a little black dress in the toy world you go to and maybe after reading this article, wands will be it!

 

Why Wand Massagers Are the Go-To for Retail Sales by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

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