As this year winds down, SE polled store owners and buyers countrywide to find out how 2017 treated the industry. What sold, what didn’t, and perhaps most importantly, what’s in store for 2018?
The new year is nearly upon us. And as the last fleeting weeks of 2017 pass by, we have our eyes focused on 2018. But before we wave good-bye to the 17th year of the 21st century, let’s not be as quick to forget what it brought the adult retail sector.
And what better way to jog that memory than by consulting with the industry itself? So we knocked on the doors of all levels of the adult retail industry to inquire how 2017 treated you and get in the spirit of the new year.
The following pages offer charts and store owner quotes related to the following questions:
• Overall, how would you rate your 2017 sales?
• How did 2017 compare to 2016 in terms of overall sales?
• What was your best-selling product in 2017?
• Do you expect your 2018 sales to be stronger than 2017?
• What product categories do you expect to experience a surge in popularity in 2018?
• As the Halloween season has passed, how would you rate Halloween sales in your store this year?
• With Valentine’s Day approaching, what product category are you expecting to thrive?
Additionally, in a long-form question separate from the survey, we also asked vendors what advice they would give to retailers in 2018. You’ll see the vendors’ responses throughout this Retailer Report.
Special thanks to all of the store owners and buyers who took the time to either fill out our email questionnaire or answer our multiple choice survey (or both!). It’s because of your efforts that we’re able to present our SE “Retailer Report,” and we greatly appreciate your responses!
“Successful retailers focus strongly on their business model and keeping the best employees. They maintain a beautiful and inviting store. And most importantly they focus on their customers. I believe there is room for brick-and-mortar and Amazon.”
—Ken Sahn, Holiday Products
“Go healthy! It’s what your customers are demanding.’
—Rebecca Powley, Intimate Earth
“The biggest challenge that most retailers tell us they have is the competition from internet sales. We’d advise that retailers support the brands that support them.”
—Glenn Leboeuf, Nalpac
“As far as staff, communication and motivation is everything. And as far as the internet vs. brick and mortar, make your site or store unique. Customer service is everything. People come back to shop at the happy place. Think outside the box!”
—Kathryn Hartman, Nasstoys
“The advice I have for retailers in 2018 is to pay attention to the trends. The consumer is always evolving but in today’s society it happens so much quicker and you have to stay on top it, if you want to succeed at the retail level.”
—Marla Lee, Kama Sutra
“Never forget to focus on your core products and mission statement.”
—Chris Kalev, LA Pump
“Keep your selection fresh but don’t lose sight of best-sellers that warrant stock year-round. Plan early and be creative with your merchandising.”
—Jeff Baker, Magic Silk
“Look at what is trending and what the appeal is and match your assortments to this. The ranges, materials and styles coming we have coming through are really amazing.”
—Sue Walsh, Rocks-Off
“Consumers have become a lot more savvy with their purchasing decisions. They want quality products that are safe and won’t break the bank. Being able to offer these types of options to them is more important than ever. Working with manufacturers who have built that trust and share that dedication to thoughtful design will pay dividends both in the short and long term.”
—Conde Aumann, The Screaming O
“Never stop researching. Research your sales—or lack of them—to previous days and even years. Research your inventory sell-through and vendor sell-through. Research your competition and research their customers. Research your customers and the customers you want to gain. Research your employees before hiring, and research selling techniques and customer service care to help them succeed. The list goes on and on ... never stop researching.”
—Ruben Deitz, Shots America
“If you want to have a store for many years, be sure that your store offers experience, quality, training, knowledge and great service. When customers enter your store, they mostly know what they want (because they went on the internet), they have money and are ready to spend now, or else they would be in front of their computer shopping.”
—Jean-Pierre Hamelin, Shunga
“Competition will absolutely start to heat up in 2018—Amazon is a beast that is aggressively targeting our industry. Don’t let your customers buy their next item off Amazon. It is critical that retailers build partnerships with brands that will hold their products to MSRP on Amazon. System Jo has shown its commitment to the adult channel by managing Amazon so we are supporting retailers by protecting the value of our brand, because a race to the bottom dollar doesn’t benefit anyone.”
—Ryan McCrobie, System JO
“For 2018 I suggest romancing your customers. Woo them in and make them feel welcome and comfortable so that they stay longer, purchase and come back for more. Loyalty is key to a repeat customer. Offer loyalty incentives such as coupons or loyalty cards with an obtainable bonus.”
—Rebecca Weinberg, XR Brands
“Focus on your competitive advantage. Be more relevant to your customers. Make sure that your customers have an experience in your store—nicely positioned/displayed products, cohesive displays and extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff. They’ve got to compete with online sellers and appeal to those who still want to shop around, touch and feel and ask questions.”
—Tom Stewart, Sportsheets
“Retailers must invest in human capital, and by that, I mean well-trained employees. At the retail level, store employees are essential in providing excellent customer service and turning everyday shoppers into repeat customers.”
—Susan Colvin, CalExotics
“Retailers should be targeting couples and making their sales environments more enjoyable and inviting. The industry is no longer the taboo subject it once was, with pleasure products being featured in mainstream more and more. Not that most retailers aren’t already progressive and open, but ensuring that their stores are not the seedy back-alley locations seen on TV in the ‘70s is key. Holding ladies’ nights, couples events, giveaways, etc. can all help attract the right customer, and keep them coming back.”
—Lynda Mort, East Coast News (ECN)
“Take advantage of the marketing and POS materials that you’re offered by brands or distributors. It really does make a massive difference to your sales if a product is displayed in a clear way that defines it from other brands. Other than that, don’t be afraid to try new things alongside your tried-and-true sales/marketing efforts—you might be surprised what could turn out to be a winning formula.”
—Claire Blakeborough, ElectraStim
“I think one of the most important things, is to train your employees on product knowledge and how to cross-sell products. For example, sex games are a great way to have a sales person add on edibles, vibrators, massage oils, etc.Each game has several activity cards that need different toys and fun stuff to play the game.”
—Dawn Phillips, Ball and Chain
“For the lingerie market, retailers really need to really build the fantasy with their customer that lingerie can be more than just special occasion. Lingerie can be for many reasons such as, role play, date night, club wear, advent theme nights and “‘just for you.’”
—Marcus Horea, Coquette
“We understand how important a robust and compelling suite of visual materials is in the buying process for the end consumer. Consumers in this industry still tend to be confused and overwhelmed by all of the product categories and mixed messaging out there—and I think anything we can do to help our partners create a more intuitive and shopper-friendly environment for their customers goes a long way in boosting their sales and customer satisfaction rates.”
—Chad Braverman, Doc Johnson