Tech Advantage: e-tique.org
E-tique.org offers a growing library of QR coded product demo videos, which can be viewed by brick-and-mortar retail shoppers on their smart phones or E-tique’s QR code reader kiosks to possibly save sales on out of- stock items.
“E-tique.org is an online presence built around the idea of shopping at an actual store — it’s shopping instore, online,” E-tique.org President Donovan Green told XBIZ, noting that all of the items listed on the site are priced as they would be sitting on a store’s shelf.
Orders placed online — or at an E-tique kiosk — are drop-shipped nationwide and delivered to homes or at local adult stores for shoppers to pick up.
For more than a decade, Green also is the president and CEO of Santa Barbara Books, Inc., operating nine adult retail locations in California and Arizona. He took over the company in 1990, following the death of his father, who owned a chain of Le Sex Shoppe stores — many of which later became Romantix locations.
The existing store locations are listed on Santa Barbara Books, Inc.’s corporate website, with links to each location’s Facebook profile page. According to Green, the stores — though named differently from one another — all fall under the jurisdiction of the same staff and therefore share the same principles, and to a certain extent, layout. “Every location has adult DVD viewing booths — ‘shag shacks’”
Adult arcades are good business,” Green said. “There’s a lot of females that are not very excited over our arcades, so we try to make them not too noticeable to our customers.”
The key to running a successful arcade in an adult retail store is to treat them like two separate businesses sharing a space, he added.
“The business has changed dramatically since I became involved,” Green said. “The product packaging and the products themselves have evolved. Right now our stores’ inventory of smoking accessories and lingerie is expanding.”
The Internet brought on another major change, Green said.
“What I noticed when the Internet came out is that it exposed people to new sexual experiences and made them comfortable to come into our stores,” he said. “It got their curiosity peaking. The Internet originally helped — but now it’s cutting into a big chunk of our profits. I’ve seen my average ticket decrease by $6–7.”
With retail locations in a variety of neighborhoods, Green said he was afforded the luxury of comparing the impact technology was having on his stores in economically depressed areas, as well as others in more affluent neighborhoods, such as in Los Angeles’ Ventura County and Santa Barbara that are more affluent.
“I got to see the impact in all neighborhoods,” Green said, “and it was time to sharpen our pencils.”
And so E-tique was born inside his brick-and-mortar locations while attempting to use QR technology to scan bar codes for better deals on adult products, and Green saw it as a way to increase revenue at his retail locations.
“We’re now using the QR codes that display demos of products to sell them from our locations, even though they’re not in stock,” Green said. “With the kiosk, it’s virtual shopping inside the stores.
“The kiosk gives stores the ability to not lose a sale based on not having a product. You sign up as an E-tique retailer, train staff to use the online platform in stores to drop-ship customer orders — profits are retained by the stores.”
E-tique provides each store with a unique code that allows it to track its sales through E-tique, and will even pay commission to sales associates, Green said.
The basic kiosk features a QR code scanner and an all-in-one Dell computer. E-tique’s product demo video library can be accessed through the kiosk, and alternatively are offered singularly as QR codes that can be affixed to product packaging for store shelving for retailers that maintain an iPad or other video-enabled mobile device as a sales tool.
“We’ve installed kiosks at all of our locations and I’m noticing that the younger people are very receptive and not at all intimidated,” Green said.
While several manufacturers offer ready-made product demos, including CalExotics, Sportsheets and Liberator, Green said he is looking to partner up with manufacturers to collaborate on product demos made for in-store marketing. He is currently working with BeaMonstar Products to create a promotional video for the company’s SexVoltz male enhancer.
“There are a lot of products in the novelty industry that simply cannot be thoroughly explained on a box,” Green said. “It could help a manufacturer show the many different ways to use their products, and expose shoppers to methods they would never have imagined on their own at home.”
According to Green, Etique also serves manufacturers with analytic tools that communicate at which locations their QR codes where scanned.