CalExotics Institute: Practical Advice for Retailers

Megan Swartz

CalExotics is now offering online education courses to further assist your team and help drive sales. The CalExotics Institute not only offers information on 250-plus CalExotics and Jopen top sellers but also offers courses on merchandising and sexual health and wellness. This is especially huge for the retailers that may not do the necessary volume that would afford manufacturers the ability to send out a representative for training. This is also great for companies with relatively high turnover. Even if you are fortunate enough to be offered annual trainings there will always be new members of the team coming on board. While in-store trainings are great and a tremendous help to retailers like myself, it is awesome to allow your staff to learn at a pace suitable for them. Every course offers a training video with a follow-up test to familiarize our associates with the newest products and also the latest sales techniques. They are constantly adding to and refreshing their content.

The most valuable lesson that can be learned here, in my opinion, is the content found in merchandising. Sometimes I see stores that are visually appealing but the set-up does not follow the pursuit of maximizing gross sales. Most team members are terrified to merchandise and maybe 1 in 30 do it well. It’s like playing Tetris by price, which is explained in this course.

Taking the time and initiative to absorb whatever knowledge you can is not only good for your business but expands your abilities in your field.

Here are some of the most useful tips offered:

1 Create product segmentation to have a device for every price point and sell from the top down. The easy sale is the “cheaper” item. For some reason this technique is hard to shake with your associates. They sometimes don’t realize the guests are looking for quality as well as value. They may pitch an item and say “This is only $9.95.” Stop it please. Do not assume everyone is looking for the blue light special. Invest in the guests and educate them on the items with continued value that will, in the long run, stretch your money much further. Guests like that. They Yelp about it, tell their friends, come back to thank you after and truly appreciate the time you have dedicated to their sexual well-being.

2 Another point well made here is that the clearance section should be in the back — where customers have to pass through all of your full-priced, full mark-up products to get to it. Too often when the sale is at the front door, the guests will commit to a discount item. Yes, it is important to burn through the slower moving product but don’t jeopardize your ability to make a higher sale to do so. Let that be the last resort for customers.

3 The use of collections as a guide to create visual separation in your store is a key factor that can easily be done with all product lines. Plan-o-grams are great. Not only do they look great, they help the customer ease from one category to the next. This is especially helpful when you have guests that have never, or rarely, frequent specialty stores like ours. Due to the fact that these particular customers are often nervous and embarrassed to allow our amazing sales associates to assist, you have to display things in a way that is very self-help oriented. Many stores that we purchase from every day use this tactic when they are trying to keep their payroll extremely low, like Walmart. I don’t know about you but I have never actually seen a sales associate at Walmart. Yet I still find more than I’m looking for to throw in my basket because the store is so easy to maneuver through.

4 Organization and progression are a vital part of merchandising your store. Let’s not scare our newcomers away before they have both feet in the door. This segment explains how you should start with your softer, less threatening, beginner items in the front and move on to the products for the more experienced customers towards the back. This allows your customers to shop at their comfort level.

5 The most effective way to lay out the store is by department. We have nice, bold signs overhead to give a description of what can be found in each department. This helps guests differentiate items for things like anal play and what not. We often see guests make their way to the register with an item that they intend to use for clitoral play that might actually be a beaded probe. It’s new so they just don’t know.

Taking the time and initiative to absorb whatever knowledge you can is not only good for your business but expands your abilities in your field. I try and learn what I can when I can. I also allow my associates to take every opportunity to grow. I try and teach them what I know and continuously learn from them as well. In the end, our industry is molded around helping people with an aspect of their life that is crucial to happiness and health. We are the bedroom therapists; let’s gear up with as much ammo as we can. CalExotics has provided us with the highest level of support that can be given and specifically Austin Ferdinand has been a large part of my growth as a merchandiser.

With more than 10 years working with Deja Vu’s various branches, Megan Swartz — Deja Vu’s general manager and buyer — has made a name for herself as a dedicated and savvy, merchandising and operations-managing dynamo.