opinion

E-Commerce and Adult Video Sales

Q. Boyer

I’ll never forget the first system through which I performed order fulfillment for adult videos that had been sold online — mostly because it was a ludicrously tedious and inefficient exercise that drove me absolutely nuts. This was long before off-the-shelf e-commerce solutions were available, and for that matter, long before most people had used the Internet at all, much less used it to make a purchase of some kind.

When a customer filled out our rudimentary online form and hit ‘submit,’ the order would arrive as an email filled with tabular data. This information covered everything from the price and title of the video ordered to the customer’s location and payment info. Some poor bastard at the company (often a poor bastard named “Quentin”) would then have to re-enter that data into a local inventory system that wasn’t tied to our online form in any way. It was the very definition of inefficiency: Retyping virtually everything that a customer had just typed himself, because our system was too unsophisticated to support reliable automated importation of the information.

One of the main advantages of e-commerce from the perspective of a company selling videos online is its ability to “process the many tasks that are automated in a fast, efficient way. -David Peskin, Third World Media.

As luck would have it, the owner of our company was also a very capable programmer, so we didn’t have to live with this painful inefficiency for very long. Soon we had a simple but functional e-commerce solution in place — although I’m not sure anybody was calling it “e-commerce” back then. Being a nerd who didn’t have a marketing-savvy bone in his body, our boss verbosely referred to it as our “online order procurement and fulfillment automation system.” (Catchy, right?)

These days, there’s simply no reason for any company to live with an ordering, fulfillment or inventory management system that does anything less than meet their needs completely. Online shopping cart systems ranging from the incredibly simple to the stunningly feature-rich are available for purchase at reasonable prices, and there’s no shortage of programmers out there capable of coding a custom system to your specifications, should your needs require a custom job.

One of the main advantages of e-commerce from the perspective of a company selling videos online is its ability to “process the many tasks that are automated in a fast, efficient way,” notes David Peskin, the sales manager for Third World Media. Having a single system that combines ordering, inventory maintenance and order fulfillment in the same, streamlined system is a must for any company that sells hard products online, Peskin added, regardless of whether you’re selling porn DVDs or widgets.

While the initial establishment of your e-commerce solution will require some measure of effort and expense (those off-the-shelf solutions don’t come with all of your product data already entered in, after all), the cost is minimal when you stack it up against the benefits of getting with the times and incorporating an effective e-commerce system. With almost no barrier to entry for setting up an online store, third-party e-commerce solutions are ideal for small companies and “mom and pop” operations.

By contrast, establishing a presence in brick-and mortar video sales is far more time-consuming, even if you aren’t opening a physical store of your own. Establishing and growing distribution relationships with retailers and wholesalers is time-consuming, and these relationships often require significantly more maintenance than does an online store, which to a certain extent runs itself once you have completed the initial setup. To wit, all of the e-commerce solutions used by Third World XXX were created by third-party developers, and Peskin said the company has no plans to develop proprietary systems to replace their current solution, because the current approach suited their needs, right off the shelf.

Another advantage to e-commerce and online shopping cart systems is that they offer an incredible degree of marketing flexibility, including the means to promote your videos in ways that simply aren’t practical in the brick and mortar environment. In addition to providing customers with the same box covers and casting information that’s available to offline adult video shoppers, in the online environment you can add a host of context and teaser content, by cross-referencing performer names with other titles they appear in, providing sample clips and screen grabs from the video, and offering a glimpse at behind-the-scenes content and other supplemental marketing materials that encourage purchase in a way that the physical retail environment just can’t duplicate.

While it has been widely reported that sales of DVDs and other hard-product formats for adult content has dropped off significantly in recent years, it’s still a viable revenue stream for those who commit to it and take care to fully optimize their approach to the market. The important thing is that you establish visibility for your video products, and a means of delivering them to purchasers that’s efficient, user-friendly and effective for getting your brand and name out there on the consumer market. E-commerce offers all of the above in a way that opting for offline distribution only simply cannot deliver.

This isn’t to say that you should set up an online store and forget about selling at brick-and-mortar stores — that approach denies you revenue just as surely as neglecting the web does —just that in positioning yourself to sell videos in the modern market, if you don’t take advantage of the power of e-commerce, you’re missing an opportunity that could very well be the difference between long-running success and rapid failure.

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