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Dave Levine: E-Retail Maven

Kim Airs

In this wacky world of online sex toy sales, one company stands heads and vibrators above the rest. That company is SexToy.com, founded and owned by none other than “Sex Toy Dave,” aka Dave Levine.

Founded in the early days of the Internet and online sales, SexToy.com began humbly, and, like many other ideas that have started small, has grown to be a multi-million dollar company via its far-reaching affiliate program — but more on that later.

The main objectives for the new site are upgrading the navigation to adhere to current best practices on the Internet, making the site a ‘mobile first’ responsive design that works on all screen sizes. -Dave Levine

When asked the commonly asked question that so many of us in the adult industry get, “How did you get into this business?” Levine responded: “In 1994, I saw the web and thought ‘Wow! I need to figure out how to make money on this!’ So I started an online mall selling everything from watches to cakes to books, and many more products, but my best store, in regards to sales, profits and traffic, was my sex toy store. So when I saw competition increasing, I decided to drop the other stores and focus on sex toys.

“I also bought the domain SexToy.com for $70 ... but I didn’t buy SexToys.com because I didn’t want to risk another $70 on my crazy ideas.”

Shortly after the creation of SexToy.com, Levine said he thought it was time to create yet another revenue generating program, one that was created in 1996 as the first affiliate program for adult products. An affiliate program, for those who may not know, is one that an “owner” of a website or domain name, can direct traffic to SexToy.com through their site and gain a commission on each and every sale. The hard work of creating the sales website, as well as supporting it, is handled by Sex Toy Dave and his team of programmers, online support staff, and the many distributors who fulfill the thousands of orders processed daily. There are more than 40 warehouses who drop-ship orders for SexToy.com and in turn for all of its affiliates, with each warehouse and distributor shipping the products directly to the consumer in discreet, brown boxes with barely a recognizable name as the return address.

And there’s strength in those numbers. Unlike traditional retail stores who have to pay for their products to sit on shelves and wait to be sold, SexToy.com pays the distributors for the products when the sale to the consumer is made over the Internet. This basically eliminates the middle process of the distributor shipping to the store to wind up in the consumer’s hot little hands. It also significantly keeps the cost of the products down since the shipping expense to the stores does not have to be added to the price of the product one buys off the shelf of a traditional bricks and mortar store. That also means that SexToy.com has incredible buying power due to the sheer quantity they process every day, so it’s a win/win for SexToy.com, the distributor/warehouse, as well as the consumer. It also offers a smaller bricks and mortar store to have their own branded website and have another company handle all of their online sales (and oftentimes offer more products than a small retailer can carry).

SexToy.com offers an astounding quantity of more than 60,000 products ranging from almost every sex toy imaginable to lingerie, shoes and even VOD through the popular downloadable adult video site, HotMovies.com. For many affiliates, the VOD feature is a high monetary generator because it offers anonymous purchasing and downloading a huge variety of adult videos to be watched in the comfort of the consumer’s home. Although, according to Levine, “Sex toys are the majority of our business,” as they have since the days of his original online shopping mall.

Lingerie is also a part of the SexToy.com and affiliates success story. Levine said he found “it was easy to add the lingerie because many existing warehouses we work with carry it and we developed some relationships with lingerie-only distributors.” So now, any of the affiliates can truly make their website a “one-stop-shop” to get everything from a yummy DVD, to lubricants, sex toys and something sexy to wear after the box arrives.

But Levine isn’t one to just sit back through all these years and let the website do its work. Over the past 18 years, the number of affiliates has grown to about 5-10,000 fairly active websites, each creating its own identity while retaining a similar feel to the “parent” website, SexToy.com.

Another upcoming project for Sex Toy Dave and the affiliates is an updating of the website and back-end available to them.

According to Levine, “The existing design is five years old and we just got to a point where starting from scratch was easier than upgrading the existing site.”

He continued, “The main objectives for the new site are upgrading the navigation to adhere to current best practices on the Internet, making the site a ‘mobile first’ responsive design that works on all screen sizes, addressing the current trend to ordering from smart phones, and creating easy customization programs that will allow affiliates to create niche sites with custom content that Google will appreciate.”

Ah yes. Google. The most popular search engine which frequently throws website programmers into a tizzy by changing their protocols. It’s enough to drive one crazy, especially in the adult industry. Levine knows this and is always staying ahead of their latest search engine changes in order to keep his site and the affiliates, Google-friendly.

An additional feature that Sex Toy Dave wants you to know about is their wholesale “sister” site, SexToyClub.com where people can buy from them at wholesale prices and develop their own marketing. So if someone has the desire to create their own website, they still have the opportunity to have products drop shipped directly to their customers without having to inventory the products.

But Levine’s most important accomplishment hasn’t been created with clicks of a mouse. Within the past few years, he finally settled down and has added “Husband” and “Daddy” to his “Sex Toy Dave” moniker. “I’m actually proud of all three of those titles,” he chuckled. “I love ‘em all.”

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