How COVID Restrictions Are Unleashing New Retail Opportunities


One thing about COVID is that we have all gone through each phase of it together, whether we wanted to or not. Watching retail stores combat their way through existence during these tough times has been an eye-opening and awe-inspiring experience. Oh, the things I have learned …

We are much more agile than we think or claim to be. So many rules existed before COVID that just do not apply anymore. Like being able to take a credit card over the phone or skipping back pay upon employee exits. It feels different for all of us, but some of these are arbitrary rules that we put into place that in hindsight may have affected us more negatively than positively.

We always initially set rules with good intentions, to protect our business and our customers, but also ourselves. It has felt like the absence of these everyday little rules we have in place, the arbitrary boundaries, has freed us to grow and develop where we would have otherwise not explored. Watching businesses experience booming online growth while they remain closed is amazing. Employees are shifting into new or temporary roles to be fluid with business needs as we cope and strategize to get through more retail virus-life. Think about some of the rules or policies you have in your store that may not serve your culture or mission anymore. Giving up rules does not mean losing structure — look at it from a perspective that enables you to reallocate those resources.

Policing policies and enforcing rules takes time and energy and can often result in making people feel devalued. If you have a loss and prevention team leader, enable another employee to lead a team morale program. Try to balance things that feel restrictive with empowering, leadership-creating opportunities in your store or industry place of work. Think about if you were training for the first day as a new employee. If your day were spent learning what “not to do,” it would leave you in a much different mindset than a day spent talking about employee development and growth to achieve business goals. Both scenarios are technically seeking the same result — a better bottom line. How these different approaches improve that bottom line is up to the employees in either scenario. Be the positive change you can be while COVID allows us to spend the time and resources thinking outside the box!

It is a lot of work to convey to people that you are smiling under that mask. I visited a small store this past weekend that reminded me that it is the people and their energy that make the store. This store was clearly low on inventory and did not have any other customers. But the energy made me feel like I was hanging with friends. The music was up, they were so kind about mentioning the rules, and then they just swept you away into their world of good energy and the flow of some normal conversation.

Was it earth-shattering? Honestly a little bit, yes. It was the most familial, VIP-feeling shopping experience that I have experienced in eight months. I did not feel like we could not express our personalities or were restricted by hospital-grade rules. This store had managed to humanize what would have otherwise been an incredibly quiet, awkward shopping experience. I spent a lot of money in a store that did not have a lot of inventory because of the people, not the stuff. It is exhausting to be in sales right now, but just remember that you create your environment. Does it feel like a clinic in your store, or does it feel like a clean, re-organized version of your old favorite? Mandatory signage does not have to take away from store appeal, make it fun and think of it as additional branding opportunities. Try to think from the perspective of a first-time customer and let that guide you and your energy on the sales floor.

In the adult industry, we have so much potential to help people love themselves and their bodies. COVID has made self-love a front-and-center health topic. Our industry and its brick-and-mortar or online sites are better equipped than anyone to be the liaison between people and the tools they need to be the best version of themselves. We have the products and knowledge to create personal confidence, teach much-needed sex education and tips to spice up people’s lives, and finally the sales ability to gain a customer’s trust when it comes to vulnerable or sensitive topics. These are a trifecta of attributes for a super-sale and bringing a long-term customer to your store’s VIP list.

Essentially, I am suggesting a focus on creating a retail environment during COVID that reflects positive energy and brings some humanity to an otherwise sterile situation. Sound tough? Nothing is tough if you have the right people around you. That is the most important thing that I have learned during COVID — the right people mean everything. My customers, coworkers, colleagues, “my industry people” mean so much to me. Take some extra time to keep connected with your people; it’s worth the investment.

And finally in a COVID world where you can be anyone behind that mask, be kind.


How COVID Restrictions Are Unleashing New Retail Opportunities by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ.

Has Lockdown Helped to Ease Masturbation Stigma?


Lockdown loving has been a hot topic over the last few months, with articles about keeping your sex life alive when you’re stuck in close quarters, reports that visits to porn sites are skyrocketing, and individuals across the country realizing that “more time to relax” often equals “more time to masturbate and have sex.” Back in April, Business Insider reported that sales of sex toys had skyrocketed — no doubt due to people finding new ways to pass the time when they didn’t have work and commuting eating into so much of their day.
Of course, the broader picture could be a bit more complicated than that: the self-love-in caused by lockdown has been hampered by the fact that we’re locking down due to a pandemic. Grief, stress, anxiety, imminent recession: none of these things are particularly conducive to feeling sexy, and the nation (indeed, the world) will likely spend a long time recovering from this collective trauma even if we do manage to find that gold-dust vaccine soon.

I’ve read many articles over the last couple of months about changes we’ve implemented during coronavirus that we could do with keeping in the long-term. More flexible working is definitely one of them, as well as increased cycling and walking provision to ease the strain on public transport. But what about the changes that have had an impact on our sex lives? Personally I think that the increased use of sex toys and porn, combined with more spare time to use to indulge them, could greatly improve both the physical and mental health of society.

I’m especially keen to understand whether lockdown has helped to ease masturbation stigma — encouraging more people to masturbate and be open about doing so. A fascinating survey back in June revealed that 40 percent of men say they’re masturbating more since the start of lockdown. Through my work, I know that masturbation stigma for men (predominantly — though not entirely — cisgender men) is a huge issue. While sex toys and masturbation for women are now regularly covered in mainstream media, there is still a huge taboo around discussing male masturbation. Particularly where it involves sex toys, and doubly so if those sex toys happen to be anal ones.

The fact that more men are masturbating during lockdown should be good news to everyone — not only does masturbation have some very specific physical and mental health benefits, the more people are willing to admit to doing it, the more likely it is that we’ll chip away at the masturbation stigma that has caused so much anguish over decades and centuries. The reasons cited in the poll were mainly because people weren’t located with their partners so were more likely to be enjoying solo sex, but many also cited simply having more time on their hands. Given this, should we perhaps be factoring “more time to masturbate” into our calculations about what a post-Covid world should look like? I think so.

There’s been plenty of talk of baking sourdough, nurturing plants, or taking up arts and crafts to pass the time during 2020, but self-care doesn’t always come wrapped in wholesome packaging. Sometimes self-care — or partner care — involves lube and vibrators and a great porn scene on the laptop. And if we’re working from home more, there’s lots of time to do exactly that.

Recently, the U.K. government has been all but begging people to return to work, and been met with deafening silence from commuters who are sick of jamming themselves into crowded train carriages. When we discuss the reasons for this, we usually focus on the ones that are suitable to be printed on the front page of newspapers: disease transmission (in offices or on public transport) is a huge risk, there are significant environmental factors involved in daily commuting, and the cost of it — both in time and money — takes a huge toll on people’s lives. But while it may still be a bit taboo to say, I think it’s worth mentioning that our sexual wellness takes a nosedive in these scenarios too. Who really wants to get sexy after two hours being intimate with a stranger’s armpit on a commuter train? Who has the energy to dedicate to an hour of self-love when you’ve spent all day in pointless meetings fueled only by a sandwich?

There’s a huge rush at the moment to “restart the economy” — those who own office buildings and city-center sandwich chains are champing at the bit to have us all trudging back into work. But those of us in the adult industry are probably much keener to see where this new world could take us. Not only could the parts of the economy in which we work grow significantly, we also recognize that the work we do has a hugely positive impact on people’s way of life.

When we talk about lockdown changing our lifestyle, it’s important to acknowledge that sex lives are part of our lifestyle too. So when the pandemic is over, and the anxiety and stress it brings starts to fade away, do we really want to go back to how things were? I think we’d be much happier embracing our change of pace, allowing for 40 percent more masturbation and a hell of a lot less stress.

Has Lockdown Helped to Ease Masturbation Stigma? By Julia Margo originally appeared in XBIZ


Top 4 Tips for Boosting Holiday Retail Sales

With the season of giving fast approaching comes the hectic scramble to find the perfect holiday gift. This annual ritual often translates to endless hours of pacing the mall, aimlessly browsing online, or, worse, falling prey to last-minute gift ideas that neither show nor tell the receiver you were thinking of them.

But what if you could help consumers ditch the holiday headache by finding the ideal gift of a pleasure product? With a little creativity, your business can help bring more pleasure and joy this holiday season with a fun, easy and strategic approach to gift-giving.

Here are a few ways to encourage sex toy gift-giving while boosting your holiday sales:

1. Draw shoppers in with a gift section they can’t resist!

Help make gift-giving easy by featuring a holiday gift section in your store or online. Get festive with your gift section and include options that cover all levels of heat. Whether it’s someone’s first time shopping for a sex toy or they’re your regular shopper, make gifting easy with the perfect variety to get their imagination going. Take this opportunity to highlight some of your bestselling items, sex toy essentials, trending toys for 2019, or toy predictions for 2020.

2. Offer gift suggestions that are inclusive, fun and go beyond relationship status, sexual identity and sexual preference.

Be sure to include ideas at different price points, from low-cost to luxury finds. Consider highlighting bundled items like toys and lube, which look good together, and subtly upsell your products. Kits are also a great gift idea because they offer more bang for your buck, and they’re a fun introduction to sex toys for those looking to experiment or explore new sensations.

3. Go the extra mile for your customers.

Offer shoppers the option to have their item gift-wrapped in-store while they shop, which is a great way to help customers check off items on their holiday to-do list during the mad holiday rush. Cater to those last-minute shoppers by giving customers the gift of expedited shipping. With your help, customers can take advantage of last-minute shopping sprees online without worrying if their gifts will arrive on time. Want to get even more creative? Include a checkout option to add a special message for those looking to add a personal touch to their gift.

4. Join in the spirit of giving.

Express your gratitude with customer incentives. Gift your customers a coupon for their next visit, or include a small gift with each purchase, offer customers a gift card bonus when buying a gift card, or reward repeat customers with rewards points. These simple options can help build customer loyalty while also increasing your sales. Treat your VIPs extra special by offering unique incentives for customers who’ve recently shopped at your store, or who are part of your loyalty program.

While gifting a sex toy can be intimidating for some, the overall stigma of sex toy gift-giving has dramatically decreased over time. This decrease is thanks in part to the growing positivity toward sexual wellness and pleasure in Hollywood and mainstream media. According to a survey recently released by CalExotics, 88 percent of people said they would be open to receiving a sex toy as a gift from a romantic partner, with the vast majority saying they’d be “thrilled” or “intrigued” by it.

Sex toys can be a great way to rekindle relationships, strengthen friendships, and add some heat to the sex lives of consumers. So, this gift-giving season, we encourage you to find creative ways to showcase your product and help consumers struggling to find a meaningful gift. Remember, providing consumers with a unique and memorable shopping experience is key. If you do this right, you’ll be surprised by how many repeat customers you’ll gain.

Top 4 Tips for Boosting Holiday Retail Sales by Vanessa Boekenoogen originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at Sensation Play Essential Items

We have sex because we enjoy the physical sensations it evokes. So why isn’t all sex considered sensation play? Sensation play includes a wide variety of specific activities designed to put the body into erotic sensory overdrive. This type of play can be a great introduction to BDSM and can also be tailored to those that fall more on the vanilla end of the spectrum.

What is Sensation Play?

There is a bit of an art to successful sensation play. It involves exploration of the entire body as opposed to only the genitals. Awakening erogenous zones often passed over during lovemaking are key factors in achieving toe-curling results. It is crucial to concentrate on areas like the soft underside of the arms and thighs, the stomach, neck and feet.

Which tools you use and in what specific combination can also make or break a sensation play session. Opposing feelings like hot and cold, smooth and rough, or soft and sharp are best at awakening the senses. It’s also important to warm up the receiving partner as opposed to using something too harsh too soon. Carefully control your play so it raises your partner’s adrenaline and endorphins at a gradual pace.

Sensation play can stand alone or be incorporated into a scene with other kinks like bondage or sensory deprivation. In fact, these two complementary activities are recommended, as they also help ignite the senses.

Sensory Deprivation & Bondage

A simple eye cover can help you get the most out of sensation play. When the ability to see is removed, the remaining senses are magnified. It makes a simple touch, sound, smell, or taste feel new and unfamiliar as if it’s being experienced for the first time. This can bring about an explosion of unanticipated erotic reactions. Bondage can have this same effect. Having our hands and/or feet restrained with bondage tape or a basic cuff set interferes with our body’s reaction to stimuli. We may naturally respond to an unexpected touch by instinctively pulling away. When we’re not able to do that, it can kick arousal into high gear.

Sensual Sensation Play

Temperature manipulation is a great introduction to sensation play. It’s also ideal for those that aren’t particularly into kink but are curious to experiment. Glass insertables can double as temperature tools that can be used on any part of the body. Set a glass toy in warm water for five to 10 minutes. Rubbing and rolling it all over the body can feel like a hot stone massage.

Alternate the warm dildo with touches from a glass toy that has been sitting in the refrigerator. The quick switch from hot to cold is particularly intoxicating when used on nipples, inner thighs or stomach.

Advanced Sensation Play

A Wartenberg wheel should be in everyone’s naughty toolkit. One of the most common sensation play items, this spiky wheel can take you from playful to intense depending on how you use it. Place it in the refrigerator or cold water and run the flat end over your lover’s body for an icy, sexy chill. When you’re ready to turn up the heat, roll the prickly end along their skin for a sensually biting surprise.

Although sensation play is most often related to skin sensations, you don’t have to stop there. In addition to using touch tools, you might opt to add in taste. Sweet, decadent foods like strawberries, chocolate and honey can be alternated with bitter lemon. Similarly, soy massage candle not only provides a pleasant smell, it can be used for a hot oil massage or hot wax play, too.

Sensation play involves more than just using a few sexy toys. The goal is applying a number of tools with opposing effects in succession to gradually ignite the senses. Creatively thinking outside the box and finding alternate uses for toys is important, too. You want to leave your partner’s body and mind eagerly wondering what’s next. Done properly, sensation play will give your lover goosebumps and send them into an unforgettable erotic frenzy.


A Look at Sensation Play Essential Items by Rebecca Weinberg originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at How Medical Bias, Misrepresentation Blocks Sexual Wellness Innovation


Throughout the decades, when looking at the innovation that has taken place in the mainstream consumer tech industry, it is clear that (relatively speaking) the sex toy industry is stunted. In more recent history, the release of several sexual wellness products has changed the landscape and shown that thoughtful engineering and intentional design can elevate a product and create positive change within the industry. Even still, there remains a lot of room for technological improvement and innovation. In contrast to mainstream consumer tech spaces, specific barriers exist for manufacturers fostering innovation within the sex toy industry.

The main obstacle in developing innovative pleasure products lies in understanding the specifics of the user. Specifically, understanding the data of someone with a vagina. This is due to multiple factors, but primarily, there are two essential reasons: lack of reliable dimensional data recorded by medical professionals, and inaccurate representations of female genitalia of media.

It may come as no surprise to those working in the adult industry that female genitalia is not always accurately represented in mainstream or pornographic media. According to a study in women requesting labiaplasty, a disproportionately high amount of pornographic representations depict the appearance of the vulva as a smooth curve with no protruding labia minora. What many may not realize is this lack of accurate or complete representation is also perpetuated in medical textbooks. Despite dimensional data regarding male genitalia being available as early as 1899, there are shockingly few medically published anatomical recordings regarding female genital data.

The external form, as well as internal size, position and relationships to surrounding structures of the clitoris are all genital measurements which impact the fit of a sex toy for a user. To date, those measurements can be difficult to access, and unreliable to trust. So how do we get that information? Really, there is only one solution: user testing. Investing in thorough user testing can supplement the lack of dimensional data available on the front end, as well as provide insights into other aspects of product fit, form and function.

Conducting the user testing in a useful and practical manner is essential to sufficiently supplementing the lack of dimensional data. Several things should be considered based on the demographic of users included in the survey. One consideration that poses a potential issue, is that many people do not know their own anatomical information. Gathering useful data may largely depend on the brand’s ability to educate the user involved in testing on their own anatomy, as well as communicate the intended product use and the outcomes of interest they hope to better understand.

Another unique obstacle exists here in the sex toy realm unlike the mainstream consumer tech space. Designers may lack an understanding of anatomical data due to improper representation and availability of medical records, but from a user standpoint, this lack of representation can trigger feelings of shame, guilt or embarrassment if and when they feel that their genitals do not match an idealized version. This can lead to a hesitation to truthfully respond to surveys or questionnaires regarding their genital shape, size or form. One approach to mitigating this concern is by ensuring the users will remain anonymous, but it is also important to recognize realistically that this technique is not always effective due to the deeply rooted nature of sexual shame.

A product designer working in the sex toy industry must have the ability to understand the anonymous reports of product testers and translate them into solutions for product innovation. Recognizing the specific barriers present, and identifying methods of supplemental data collection and design solutions is essential to creating an innovative brand and product. Lack of dimensional data recorded through medical accounts, as well as biased representations in mainstream porn media, both contribute to the unique barriers present for designers innovating in the sex toy industry.

Through innovating in the field of sexual health and pleasure, we can actually help combat the barriers faced by designers in the field. High-level innovation in the field of sexual health and wellness has the power to destigmatize commonly inaccurate representations of human anatomy. By working alongside each other with this common goal, manufacturers have a huge opportunity to evolve existing representations of female genitalia — and ultimately — foster a new level of inclusivity for our consumers.


A Look at How Medical Bias, Misrepresentation Blocks Sexual Wellness Innovation By Avery Smith originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at the Relationship Between Self-Care, Pleasure

Once upon a time … we all dreamed of what we would do for ourselves if we just had a little bit more time, or a little bit more money, or a little bit more of something we didn’t even know we needed. The dream to improve our physical and emotional wellbeing created a well-known trend we can all get behind — #selfcare.

Social media may have brought selfcare to the masses, but the adult industry has thrived in the concept. Regardless of your store or business size, you can participate and pay forward the idea of embracing positive self-care. Below are some ideas to think about regarding your approach to incorporating this mega trend into your business.

What self-care means to you and someone else is going to be totally different. Making sure to keep an open mind as to what self-care means for everyone is going to be important. I use vacation as an example when trying to illustrate this point. There are so, so many ways people like to vacation or spend their leisure time. I personally love a quiet beach with endless piña coladas and some good books. To someone else (like my entire family), this is a ridiculous way to spend your free time when you could be jumping into volcanoes or taming wild crocodiles. Our industry retailers are the perfect way for people to actualize their idea of enhancing their current wellness routine.

Most people deviate to the simplest objective — meaning, the thought of prioritizing your own emotional and physical wellbeing with items and actions is foreign to most of us. We have been taught to do the opposite of prioritizing the little things, making it difficult to create an act of joy or experience for ourselves rather difficult. As retailers, you can help illustrate different forms or journeys that fulfill the idea of optimizing our intimate wellbeing. Your displays or wellness centers should incorporate both inexpensive consumables and high-end luxury items. Teach your customers to dream big! We gravitate to low-hanging fruit … a bubble bath, a piece of cake, a new outfit, a few highlights when we get our hair cut etc. — typically singular items or actions because we haven’t discovered how gratifying putting your needs first can be. Talk to your customers about investing in themselves. Talk to them about spending the extra money on a nice vibrator. Help them visualize how this item is a necessary tool in their wellness caboodle. We are worth the investment! Teach customers and staff that the vibrator is just the first step. Your store is filled with so many options for customers to treat themselves; you just need to show them the possibilities. Do not limit yourself or your customer to impulse items targeted at the self-care market. Create a destination in your store that allows people to envision what a better version of themselves looks like through intention.

Finally, if you are going to “talk the talk, you gotta walk the walk.” At the end of the day, self-care must be important to you. Do not get lost in a movement you do not feel like you are part of. Remember self-care is not about making the sale; it is about making us a better version of ourselves.

5 Self-Care Tips for Fall to Practice in the Store:

Energize your body on breaks. Step outside the store from some fresh air and a quick walk. It sounds silly but setting aside 15 minutes to literally step away can be harder than we think. Find some grass to ground your toes in before you head back indoors.

Dance it out when the sales floor is slow. Create energy, move your body. It helps pass time and customers can pick up on when it is slow. Create some good Corona Tik-toks and help gain new social media followers!

De-clutter. Take a serious look at your cash wrap or other non-customer areas in the store — organized clutter is still clutter. Try to create more room for sellable product at or near the cash wrap. Let old paperwork and homemade signs go. The dollar store has amazing tools to help you organize on a budget. Start the fall season fresh with new workspaces in the store that are clean and organized.

Unplug. You are connected to your work phone, your cell phone, your home phone, the computer, smart watch and other devices that consume your time and attention throughout the day. Set aside 15-30 minutes of unplugged time where you are away from your devices and force yourself to get comfortable with your own company. We all wish for quiet time, but then get anxiety and guilt when we have it. By setting aside dedicated time, it makes it easier for yourself and others to respect boundaries for your solo time.

Practice gratitude. Customer service or other types of work that require you to deal directly with customers can be thankless and emotionally tolling. Find one thing every day that makes you grateful about your job or position in our industry. It does not have to be monumental, just one single thought per day. It will help give you perspective about the things you enjoy, so you know what to practice more of!

Self-care is not something you have; it’s something you claim. I hope this article helps empower you all to treat yourself with more kindness and the self-empathy you deserve!


A Look at the Relationship Between Self-Care, Pleasure by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

Magic Wand, Cosmopolitan Talk Counterfeit Pleasure Products

Magic Wand, Cosmopolitan Talk Counterfeit Pleasure Products

 Magic Wand VP Shay Martin discussed counterfeit pleasure products, and how to identify fakes in the marketplace, for the September issue of Cosmopolitan.

Martin’s interview, “How to Spot a Counterfeit in the Wild,” is part of a larger piece titled “How to Navigate the New Landscape of Everyone’s-Doing-It Sex Toylandia” by Carina Hsieh and Taylor Andrews.

“Counterfeit pleasure products impact far more than a manufacturer’s bottom line. From health risks to negative press, counterfeit products are a significant issue impacting the industry — and virtually unknown to consumers,” a rep explained.

“Vibratex is the exclusive North American distributor of the Magic Wand brand — one of a handful of sex toy lines consumers ask for by name,” continued the rep. “This demand makes Magic Wand a big target for counterfeiters, rendering Martin an expert on this specific issue.”

In her full interview, Martin said that the “scariest aspect” of counterfeit sex toys is that “anything’s possible.”

“We hear from consumers who are dissatisfied with purchases and completely unaware that sex toy fakes are even possible,” Martin explained. “We were happy to share some insights with Cosmopolitan in the hopes of helping people avoid disappointment — and even danger.”

“We’ve seen everything from unsafe electrical components that overheat to silicone and rubber materials that literally smell harmful. The unpredictable nature is what worries us most,” Martin continued.

Martin offered a list of “key checkpoints to consider” if consumers are unsure about a product, and noted they are unlikely to find fakes in brick-and-mortar locations as reputable retailers are notably thorough about vetting their product in advance.

Her reference points include “asking the relevant salesperson what they know about the toy and brand, inspecting the product box and packaging and — smell it.”

“Does the product smell like chemicals? If so, put it down and move on,” Martin quipped. She also discussed “the allure of large online marketplaces,” and advised consumers to stick with authorized sellers and “avert your eyes from the sites with the super-low prices”

Find the complete article here.

Magic Wand, Cosmopolitan Talk Counterfeit Pleasure Products by JC Adams originally appeared in XBIZ

A Look at Adult Retailers’ Role as Sex Educators

It is no secret that sex education is completely lacking in our culture and society today. No matter what generation someone was born into, chances are the sex education they received was either completely false, misguided, judgmental, or harmful — and that’s if they even received a formal “sexual education” in the first place. So, given this tumultuous and highly variable landscape, where exactly do retailers fit into the mix?
One might argue that pleasure product retailers are the new wave of sex-ed teachers for adults. It is their duty to help adults unlearn and then relearn what sex is and what sex could be. And that’s an important job to pursue because according to a recent survey conducted by CalExotics, 62 percent of pleasure product retailers believe that their customers have been negatively affected by their sex-ed experiences. That’s a massive percentage, especially given the fact that these are folks who are already shopping for pleasure products.

How do retailers show up as sex-ed teachers already? At its most basic level, retailers make themselves available to answer questions. This is key in a world where people often feel judged or uncomfortable voicing their questions aloud. What’s really interesting, from an educational perspective, is that the questions retailers are getting from customers go far beyond product recommendation or specs. In fact, according to the survey, the most common questions retailers are getting include:

  • How can I please my partner? — 77 percent of retailers surveyed
  • How can I spice up my relationship? — 77 percent of retailers surveyed
  • Is __________ normal? — 73 percent of retailers surveyed
  • How can I introduce __________to my partner/ask my partner for __________? — 69 percent of retailers surveyed
  • How can I have an orgasm during intercourse? — 69 percent of retailers surveyed
  • How can I increase my partner’s libido? — 65 percent of retailers surveyed
  • What is __________ (terminology they read online)? — 58 percent of retailers surveyed
  • How long should sex last? — 31 percent of retailers surveyed

As anyone in the industry would conclude, the answers to these questions involve comprehensive, in-depth responses that can have a major impact on a person’s knowledge, perception, confidence and actions. In other words, these are major questions, folks; and that can certainly feel like a big undertaking until you recognize one very important factor: unlike some sex-ed teachers of the past, you get to be the compassionate teacher.

What does being a “compassionate teacher” mean? It means that just by being receptive, understanding, non-judgmental and open, you are already providing people with an incredibly important lesson in sex education. Just remember that your own sex-ed background may be shaping the way you view or react to their questions, which adds another layer of complexity. It’s important to lead with compassion and approach each customer with acceptance. By doing so, you are impacting them in a positive way and more than you even realize.

How else are retailers showing up as sex education teachers now? They are using sex-positive marketing (72 percent), offering sexual health merchandise (68 percent), providing ongoing training (60 percent), incorporating sex-positive corporate culture (56 percent), and using sex-positive displays (52 percent). These percentages are on the rise, but there’s always room to grow. In fact, many retailers say that they’d like to start incorporating things like showcasing books and resources, doing more community work and offering classes.

Some retailers may be skeptical about these tactics. If the goal is to sell sex toys, why do we need to bother with putting educational materials out into the world, particularly if they don’t correlate with a specific SKU? The answer is simple: the more we can collectively educate the population on sex, sexuality, gender, pleasure and more, the more these topics become comfortable, mainstream and part of normal, everyday discussion versus being shameful or hush-hush.

Just imagine a world where anal beads are so widely accepted that every single person, no matter their sexual orientation or gender, had some in their nightstand. Think about a future where all women — all women — felt empowered to masturbate without the shame. What if kegel weights were celebrated publicly as though they were Peloton bikes? What if butt plugs were so commonplace and widespread, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t own a few?

The point is that the more retailers put themselves out there as teachers, rather than just sales people, the more customers they will ultimately reach. And listen, none of this will happen overnight — but it will happen the more retailers jump into this very much-needed role and present themselves as the compassionate leaders and educators they are. More compassion and education leads to a reduction of stigma and shame, which leads to a whole new world of sexual understanding, which ultimately leads to more sales.

So where can you start? Take a surveillance of what you have done so far to position your business as an educational tool. Do you offer classes? Do you post on social media about a variety of sexual education topics instead of just about toys? Is the language you use on your in-store signage sex-positive and judgment-free? Find a baseline for where you are today and then find ways to do more (and ultimately be more) for your customers. If 62 percent of customers are still negatively impacted by their sex-ed upbringing, there is an obligation to help massively reduce that number for future generations to come.


A Look at Adult Retailers’ Role as Sex Educators By Nichole Grossman originally appeared in XBIZ

How to Make Retail Events a Reality — In-Store or Online

In-store events are an important part of brick-and-mortar culture. They help businesses connect with their customers in a more intimate setting that can serve both the retailer and customers in a variety of ways. We know sales is about relationships, and stores need these sales activities that give customers and staff ways to connect, other than at the cash register.

Revenue. Events are great for generating both long-term and short-term revenue. They give you a gauge of your audience size, as well as levels of customer loyalty. They teach you what type of incentive your customers need to come in the store outside their normal visits. Do your customers need extra discounts to make their purchase feel special? Does a gift with purchase motivate them to spend more on items they would not normally buy? Do clearance items seem to fly out during larger store gatherings, etc.? This type of sales data can be invaluable for both everyday business and the store events that you host over the year. They give you the information you need to have the right products on-hand, at the right times.

Events also give you a way to measure your customers’ interest level in non-sales floor activity. Meaning, do you have customers that show a higher interest in sex-ed type classes, or do they seem more interested in manufacturer-attended events? Ladies nights, VIP events or educational in-store activities seem to drive the most business in our industry from my perspective.

Outside sales activities give your customers more ways to spend money with you. Bring in items for events you may not normally carry. Try adding some additional types of giftables, specialty boxed sets, or other merchandise you may want to test in the store without committing to a permanent space. Make sure your customers know these are limited items for events only and were brought in specifically for them!

Store celebrations do not need to cost a lot to be successful. Leverage your resources. Invite a local retailer that has a similar customer base to set up a space. Mixing up your customer base with another local business is a great way to increase your store awareness and spread the word about your retail location. Creating partnerships with other local business also helps create community. Small businesses can do far more to help each other than they think. If you have a business, you can do events with other companies that you can borrow or share resources with to help keep costs down. Ask your manufacturers for help, we live for these types of things, I promise! We often have small gift-with-purchase or sample-size items that we can send to entice customers. Our teams can help with social media promotion or provide other content at no cost for you. Start slow as you build your event “inventory” so you can keep your spending in balance with what you are making.

COVID-19 may be an obstacle for hosting in-store occasions until at least early 2021. Do not be afraid to go virtual! Even when retail life goes back to normal, it will be important to keep virtual access available for customers. Going virtual does not have to be intimidating or complicated. Zoom is a great platform and it is easy to use for both the host and the guest. Do not get overwhelmed and try to use your entire sales floor for online presentations. Create a small space around 8 to 10 square feet that you can use to make a small version of your store. This size is easy to fit on camera and keep a polished presentation. Look at your 20 top-selling items and use this list to populate your “virtual” store. Hosting themed events will help make it easy to merchandise and display in fun ways. Let your manufacturers help you with branded images that you can use for a background if you need it. One advantage of a virtual platform is removing the geography that may keep us apart.

Every store has such a different customer base — it is one of the things I appreciate most about my job. I get to meet and learn not only about your teams, but the customers you work with. This diversity of clientele helps give me insight on ways I can help other retailers working with similar customer bases.

Please lean on your manufacturers during this challenging time and let us help you stay connected to the people that matter most in retail, our loyal customer fam.

How to Make Retail Events a Reality — In-Store or Online by Danielle Seerley originally appeared in XBIZ

An Inside Look at the Home Party Business in a Pandemic

Since the beginning of the pandemic, independent home party companies have tried to determine how they were going to continue their businesses. Some manufacturers were concerned about the survival of our sector because we actually go into people’s homes.

Necessity is the mother of invention and the independent home party sector knew that in order to survive we had to evolve, which led us to explore the idea of conducting virtual pleasure parties.

There’s no question that the introduction of the Zoom platform made transitioning to virtual parties easier. Everyone in the industry is using it for everything from company meetings to product training sessions and even trade shows. Zoom is easily acquired and accessed, which helps to streamline the process. Although the virtual platform is readily available, conducting the virtual party itself brought a whole new set of challenges that did not exist in a live, face-to-face party.

Here are a few challenges we face when converting from in-home, face-to-face parties to virtual on-screen parties. We have to change our set-up process to best communicate with our guests. There are several things we need to take into consideration, such as camera placement, lighting, sound, answering questions, showing product, purchasing, time management and finally, preparation.

Camera placement and good sound is extremely important so the viewer can clearly see the functionality and design of the products and the presenter. Also, make sure there is sufficient lighting for the viewer. It can be hard to see both the presenter and the product if it is too dark. Investing in a ring light can ensure proper illumination for a better outcome. Also, having a space that does not have echoing background sounds and investing in a good microphone would be helpful.

Most party plan owners are a one-person show or may not have a helper present when it comes to answering live inquiries during the presentation. This can cause the interruption of flow by having to read the questions from chat. To streamline the process, hiring a helper — either live or on the virtual platform — would make the process more efficient and effective.

In a live party, we pre-select items for showing and demonstrating. Those products can be changed on a dime depending on the flow of the guests’ conversations about sex and toy usage. A virtual party does not allow for that flexibility. The presenter is only showing and demonstrating products that are pre-selected. In addition, it is more effective for the presenter to assign numbers to each pre-selected item. This will streamline the purchases.

The onus is on the presenter/party plan owner to create a purchasing system that works well for them. Keep in mind that the process is completely different from the purchasing process at a live party. In a live party, guests are taken in a private area to complete their purchases; whereas in a virtual party, it is hard to develop a discreet and confidential space to have them place their order. In a virtual situation, a private chatroom could be used to place an order; or if using Facebook Live, the guest could be directed to FB messenger to place orders. These are just a couple of suggestions. Time management is very important when preparing and conducting an in-home pleasure party. It starts from packing a demonstration kit to closing out from the last order. It takes time to determine what order to show items and how they will be discussed. Fielding questions is also included in the time management process. When conducting a virtual party, the same things are included, however, the prep time may be shorter, but knowing what will be shown and having an idea of what may be asked by the guests takes time and patience. The preparation of both setups is crucial for a great virtual party.

The preparation process includes selecting the right mix of products to appeal to a majority of the viewers. It is imperative that the presenter be very familiar with the functionality of each product prior to the virtual party. Make sure that the items are fully charged, loaded with fresh batteries, everything is easily accessed and ready to work. There is not much difference in preparing for an in-home party or a virtual party when it comes to prep.

The pleasure products industry, as a whole, is resilient and ever-evolving. The independent home party sector has always taken its cues from the industry at large and modified the rules to make them work for their customers. The independent home party owner is resourceful and creative in developing our parties to fit the current situation. We will continue to shape-shift as the market requires, where there’s a will there’s always a way.

An Inside Look at the Home Party Business in a Pandemic by Tamara Payton Bell & Kim Varner originally appeared in XBIZ

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