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Mechanics of Success

Ariana Rodriguez

SexToyDistributing.com was first established in 2006. Following a merger in 2008 that introduced a combined catalog of close to 1,000 products, SexToyDistributing stayed true to its objective of harnessing the Internet’s power to expand its reach and functionality and has since evolved into a robust platform for Internet retailers and brick-and-mortar stores with a product lineup of more than 3,000 products.

Prior to co-founding SexToyDistributing.com, Ari Suss majored in accounting at Bryant College in Rhode Island, received an MBA in Marketing from Loyola College in Maryland, and worked at Coca-Cola, Black & Decker, St. Paul’s Insurance and Mercantile Bank. Now as company president, Suss is developing the company’s long-term goals and working with his team to meet them.

Our initial goal was to take advantage of the web’s powerful ability to showcase our vast selection of products to an international market.

According to Suss, technology is still at the core of the company’s principles and consequential success.

“Our initial goal was to take advantage of the web’s powerful ability to showcase our vast selection of products to an international market,” Suss said. “We have stayed focused on this goal by dedicating thousands of man hours writing product descriptions by hand to provide customers accurate and descriptive information about each product we offer. Many more hours have gone into the photography of our selection of 3,000-plus items. We continue to upgrade our photographs on a weekly basis to give consumers the best, clearest images to help assure they make the best purchasing decisions.”

Suss is credited for his contribution to the recent upgrade of SexToyDistributing.com’s back-end, with new features including an advanced search algorithm that makes finding products on the website much easier, a fast reorder platform and improved speed of the website.

“Our technology has evolved over the years improving the usability of the site,” he said. “In 2009 we implemented a quick re-order process where repeat customers can access their previous shopping carts and simply adjust the quantities so they don’t have to key in their orders over and over. In 2011 we implemented a powerful search engine to help customers find items according to UPC code, manufacturer SKU, color, size, price, packaging and brand. We have received positive feedback on these improvements. We recently partnered with a unique inventory maintenance program to help our Internet retailers utilize our data feed to quickly and automatically update our entire inventory on their websites.”

Sex Toy Distributing’s expansion to a 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art warehouse has expanded its product offerings, as well as streamlining order fulfillment, with a 97 percent fill-rate.

“We have invested heavily in Mas500 to help bring our all our systems together into one finetuned machine,” Suss said. “The result is real-time order processing, accurate inventory management, and streamlined shipping. Our location in California is crucial to the fill rate success, allowing us to receive back orders from the major adult toy manufacturers in days.”

In addition to implementing cutting-edge technology that can be passed down to its clientele, Sex Toy Distributing also keeps focused on the needs of its clients via data analysis and customer service.

“We work hard to keep our key metrics up,” Suss said. “These include 24-hour email response, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. phone support, one- to two-day order processing speed, and 100 percent order accuracy. Customers come to us because they like what we have to offer, and we keep them happy by consistently monitoring our metrics and offer assistance when needed.”

Additionally, part of Suss’ duties as president — and Sex Toy Distributing’s formula for success is — maintaining relationships with manufacturers.

“I foster relationships and with suppliers to help them get the most exposure possible on SexToyDistributing.com to maintain our goal of optimal sales for each brand we carry,” Suss said. “We have a great relationship with the leading manufacturer of our industry. We meet with them a few times a year to learn about their new products and they help us determine what items will be the best fit for our audience. These meetings give us all the information we need to keep our fingers on the pulse of the market and provide our customers with the very best selection. Our goal isn’t to carry everything on the market, but to promote what we do carry effectively and professionally.”

Suss continued, “Feedback is crucial to every business and we prioritize our clients’ feedback and work on responding to their needs — and in many cases implementing change for — each one.”

Specialized attention to key niche products along with competitive pricing on major brand names has set Sex Toy Distributing apart from the masses. The one-stop-shop offers everything from unique fetish gear, sex machines and lingerie, down to the staple items such as the Pocket Rocket. Doc Johnson, California Exotic Novelties, Topco Sales, Pipedream Products, Leg Avenue and Sportsheets are a few of the brands offered by SexToyDistributing.

“It’s a combination of offering a unique inventory of hard-to-find items, competitive pricing to help retailers squeeze out extra profits in this tough economy, our advanced website features, and our stellar customer service team dedicated to ensuring that customers’ orders and questions get taken care of promptly,” Suss said.

During the “Retail Success” panel at January’s XBIZ Retail 2012, Suss discussed the unfair competition presented by major online retail giants, and enlightened attendees with plausible solutions.

“It is a challenge to compete against low-price giants such as Amazon,” Suss said. “Yet, I believe that small companies can carve out a niche and compete very effectively. We have recommended that stores create a ‘boutique’ section where they can display products in glass cases. They should be displayed without packaging so customers can’t scan the UPC code to price shop.

“SexToyDistributing offers up to 1,000 adult products in bulk at great values to help Internet retailers and stores establish their own white label brands. Stores and websites can provide a higher level of customer service than Amazon with phone and email support. And brick-andmortar stores offer instant gratification that online retailers will never be able to achieve. Make your store a place that customers want to interact with and visit in person.”

With the pleasure products industry booming, Suss notes the budding trend of specialty companies carving out unique categories for themselves.

“We are seeing more niche manufacturing than ever before targeting micro sections of the market,” Suss said. “These have been successful and I see the trend continuing. Distribution is becoming more competitive as more distributors enter the market.

“Our vision is to continue to improve our shopping experience to make it easy and fast, while still providing great product value. In addition, we will continue to improve content to help the brands we carry better communicate their products features, benefits and value to the end user.”

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