How to sell adult toys
We mentioned selling adult toys in our recent post, and we know there is a huge amount of customer interest – and with customer interest comes a significant number of sales opportunities, so we thought we’d take a look at how to tackle it. Online shopping has meant that customers can browse for, and purchase more items that they would even consider looking at in a retail store, which means retailers can increase their potential sales by selling adult toys.
What are adult toys?
‘Adult toys’ is a euphemism really – wherever there is a reference to adult toys, what is being implied is actually sex toys. We’re not going to get into details in this post (since the category is so broad and there are hundreds of products that can be referred to) but typical products include vibrators and dildos, as well as products for foreplay and anal play. Usually items such as lubricants, massage oils and toy cleaning products tend to be included in inventory for this type of store, as well as lingerie and some types of clothing (fetish wear).
Challenges of selling adult toys
On the face of it, selling adult toys is pretty similar to selling anything else – you simply need to buy at a lower price than the recommended retail price so that you can sell them for a profit. But it isn’t all that easy, because what is really being discussed is sex toys, and in some cases, how to use them. In many countries worldwide (even in many communities within the UK), any mention of sex being fun or even sexual activity at all is incredibly taboo still, and so even a word hinting at it can lead to people being offended, complaints, and posts being censored.
- On marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, this category is a restricted and so you will need to be able to justify your source, and how you are selling this type of item – therefore it is preferable to sell on your own website
- Customers that might be offended may complain on your social media and on review websites
- Loyal customers who are more conservative may choose not to shop with you again
- Social media platforms may censor some types of images on your posts
- Photos of products that are phallic in nature may be reported or removed by search engines – and may not be seen where users have ‘safe search’ options switched on
- Social media policies may prohibit wording that promotes sexual pleasure
- There are already some high profile businesses selling products at low cost (although competition may not deter you from selling in other categories, it is a challenge you’ll need to consider)
Whether you decide to launch a separate business selling sex toys, or to simply add a category on your sales channels, it needs to be handled carefully. Although for a lot of people, sex toys are a normal part of life, for others, the subject is completely off-limits. These aren’t the only problems you might face, but they are some of the main ones that you need to be aware of before you start selling in the adult toy category.
Reasons to sell sex toys
So if there are significant problems with selling sex toys, is it really worth your time selling them? Well, globally the sex toys market is expected to reach more than $56.58 billion by 2027 – which has undoubtedly (in part, at least) been helped along by the COVID-19 pandemic, with people spending more time with their partners.
Although there is still a taboo around sex and sexuality, the use of sex toys isn’t a new thing, whether they are for solo use or as part of a romantic relationship. And with easier access to the internet and online retailers that sell sex toys, there are more people than ever making the decision to explore their sexuality further and are making use of toys to do so – which means more opportunities for retailers. eCommerce completely removes the embarrassment factor of shopping in-store, and allows customers to research the best type of product for them, especially where customers leave feedback in the form of reviews and so on.
Marketing sex toys
When it comes to working on marketing and selling sex toys, there are a few things you’ll need to think about that are different to selling products from other categories.
Before you start buying stock, or DropShipping sex toys, look to businesses leading this industry – LoveHoney, Bondara and Ann Summers have all been around and trading successfully online for years. Their social media are all pretty different in style, but they have all built pretty impressive followings, and are using advertising successfully. While we’re not suggesting that you copy their style directly, there is much to be inspired by while you’re doing your research.
When it comes to the tone of your marketing content and your graphical assets, you’ll need to decide the styling and the type of language that you’re going to use. As with almost everything, different types of marketing holds different appeal, which is why having a clear understanding of your target customer is essential.
When it comes to images for marketing adult toys, you’ll need to decide on colour schemes. Are you going to use colours that are traditionally associated with love, romance, and sex – so, blacks, reds, purples, and pinks – or are you going to avoid those colours because of their stereotypical association with tawdry boudoirs? You’ll need product images, of course, but you’ll need to think about what types of backgrounds, or other graphical assets are right for your business, and consider how you can promote your sex toy inventory on social media and so on.
Similarly, you’ll need to think about the type of language that you’re going to use. Some customers will love innuendo and will enjoy smutty euphemisms as entertainment as they’re browsing your website. Other people will find no-nonsense, direct (perhaps even borderline clinical) discussion of the products and how to use them more appealing, while or prefer more discreet marketing.
Depending on where you are writing about your products, or the customer you are trying to reach, you may need to use creative language to describe what it is that you’re talking about. If your customers might balk at the words ‘sex toy’, then you could try using ‘sexual wellness’ or ‘sexual health discovery’ (which may also be accepted on some marketplaces. If you need to avoid the words ‘vibrator’ or ‘dildo’, then using the word ‘massager’ is acceptable on most platforms.
When you’re talking about the products, be sure to focus on the feelings that the product bring about. Does it create a tingling sensation, produce heat, relieve pressure? You won’t need to actually try the products out (unless you want to, of course) because there is already so much relevant information available online.
Issues with censorship
When you know you have great products, it can be infuriating to have your listings or your posts censored. Unfortunately, with anything to do with sex, very often there are rules that need to be adhered to – especially when it comes to the promotion of enjoyment of sex (which, of course, sex toys are designed to do). There are ways around some of the policies though – you just have to do so creatively.
- Read reviews of your items for video posts on social media – you don’t need to show the item, how it works or even use text
- Use paid search engine ads – they may be easier to work with than social media as guidelines are different
- Work with influencers – again, they will need to work within the guidelines of the social media platform that they are posting to, but they take the risk, and you’ll be able to increase brand awareness this way
- Affiliate marketing can help to take the hassle out of selling sex toys, since your affiliates are responsible for marketing your products
Google will allow PPC ads in countries that allow such content. You’re not allowed to be obscene, discuss aspects of sex, self-pleasure and so on. You are allowed, however, to talk about sex toys, lubricants, aphrodisiacs and sexual enhancers like Viagra and Cialis.
Bing is a little more specific in what is allowed, so head for their policy to find out more about different categories. If some of your inventory is designed with more extreme activity in mind, you’ll need to avoid using any kind of language that implies any kind of brutality or violence – even if that is intended to be used consensually.
Alternatively, if you’re comfortable discussing aspects of sex that might be relevant for your customers, then you could use social media marketing to help drive traffic to your website – and of course, your listings. By providing answers to questions that customers may have, and sharing information about different techniques as part of blog, podcast, or video content, you’ll become an authority in the field, which may present further opportunities.
Marketing dates for sex toys
Since sex toys should ideally be replaced if there is a change in partners, and people in intimate relationships may wish to buy whenever they fancy a change, there is demand from customers for adult toys year-round. But key marketing dates, where sex toys could be given as gifts include:
- Valentine’s Day – as a holiday celebrating romance, it makes sense to sell items linked to intimacy
- During wedding season (May to October) – as gifts for stag and hen dos, rather than as a wedding gift!
What to sell sex toys alongside
Since there is huge demand for sex toys year round, you’ll want sex toys in your inventory alongside other items that may be given as gifts or as an aid to intimacy. Such items include:
- Everyday lingerie
- Specialist lingerie such as basques, bustiers and teddies
- Fetish wear (which provides a huge scope to make additional sales!)
- Products to help promote better sex, such as lubricants
- Massage oils
- Personal grooming goods such as hair removal tools
- Batteries (although rechargeable items are becoming more popular, in many cases batteries are still required – so having them available to purchase at the same time can increase the cost of overall orders)
These aren’t the only opportunities available for diversifying your inventory – although they do make for a well-rounded adult toy store. If you already have a business selling, then adult toys can be a great addition, and of course if this is the case, the number of products you can add to your inventory is limitless.
Selling sex toys without upfront investment
If you’re not sure whether your existing customers will want to buy adult toys from you – even once you’ve referred to your customer research, and done further research – then you might be reluctant to invest in stock. It makes sense to be cautious, since you don’t want to be left with items that you need to sell with a lower profit margin to free up that cash.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t add sex toys to your inventory. You can do so without investing in stock by DropShipping sex toys and other related items from approved suppliers who dispatch to customers on your behalf. While some eCommerce retailers have been reluctant to use the DropShipping model due to the perception of it being linked to scams, there are better ways to make use of the model. Working with local, in-country suppliers that can assure the quality of the products and ensure prompt delivery is a much better way to implement the model than DropShipping from suppliers in China, and means that you’re less likely to encounter complaints.
Using a DropShipping platform such as Avasam can help you to find reliable suppliers with a wide range of sex toys, and to automate your connections to them and your sales channels. That means inventory and order information can flow between you, the suppliers you source from, and your sales channels effortlessly.
If this all sounds good, then sign up for Avasam to take a look at our range of quality sex toys that are available from UK-based suppliers. If you’re short on time and want to start selling sex toys right away, then book a call with a member of our team and we’ll help you to get set up with your existing systems.
While selling sex toys doesn’t mean that you are responsible for the behaviour of your customers, you should still act ethically in your marketing, and encourage people to be sexually responsible. Promote gaining consent from partners before any activity takes place, and of course (it should go without saying!) encourage safe sex.
While some sex toys are designed with more extreme activities in mind, as a seller it is a wise idea to remind customers that they should use their purchases safely, and always consensually. There is a huge community of people who enjoy BDSM activities, or have kinks that are outside of what is considered ‘the norm’. While some of the activities in those types of relationships may appear extreme and unpleasant to outsiders, most people who take part in these activities discuss their actions and get complete consent before anything takes place. If you are selling items that are designed to inflict pain, or that could cause injury if used inappropriately, then ensure you have a disclaimer, and remind customers to keep their activity safe, sane, and consensual.
Selling sex toys isn’t for everyone. An open mind and acceptance of different sexualities is essential to be able to market adult toys well, as well as being confident and comfortable in discussing sexual matters – although you don’t have to be salacious or sensationalist about what you’re selling. With a methodical approach to keyword research, and a detailed knowledge of your customer, if you have the knowledge of how to sell, you’ll be able to sell sex toys and increase your profits.