It’s no secret that Halloween season is one of the largest retail events of the year, and adult stores of all sizes enjoy measurable upticks in sales as the summer ends and Halloween fans start brainstorming. As we all know, costumes and role-play accessories play a leading role this time of year, but it has become imperative to beef up way more than just apparel in anticipation for consumers’ curious, open-minded seasonal shopping habits.Here are some helpful tips stores can use – especially if they’re a little late to the game.
Ultimately, when it comes to successful Halloween prep, there are three key aspects to focus on: timeliness, merchandising and displays, and understanding (and anticipating) shoppers’ needs.
It’s no secret that Halloween season is one of the largest retail events of the year, and adult stores of all sizes enjoy measurable upticks in sales as the summer ends and Halloween fans start brainstorming.
Timeliness is next to Godliness when it comes to retail ordering, but we all know that delays happen and last-minute scrambling sometimes becomes part of the deal. If you know you are prone to prepping behind schedule, then plan ahead for being late! Distributors all have their own timelines so simply call them and find out the latest dates you can submit orders to receive them on time. At least then you know what your true drop-dead deadlines are.
We prefer customers place orders two to four weeks in advance – but we can ship as late as one week prior to Halloween. Our standard domestic shipping takes about five to seven business days and even our drop-ship customers can order down the wire with just a week’s notice.
International shipping is a different ballgame, of course, but we pride ourselves in our quick overseas shipping. We prefer to receive orders made a month in advance, but international stores – drop-ship customers included! – can order as late as two weeks before the holiday officially happens.
Communicating with distributors ahead of time is especially helpful to find out which products on your must-have list might be back-ordered or unavailable – especially items that don’t have comparable substitutes, like many of the latex and PVC apparel that our customers often display alongside traditional costumes.
Merchandising and Displays
Halloween is a big season for impulse buys and having eye-catching displays – especially ones that cross-merchandise – are essential for catching eyes and inspiring unplanned purchases. Utilize as many displays that manufacturers offer, especially those that take up a small footprint and can sit near or next to the point of sale. Nothing says, “Hey, try this today” like a TENGA 3D Store Display filled with 15 strokers right by the register, and anything affordably priced and easy to use can make for a perfect impulse sell for shoppers feeling the sexy, spooky Halloween vibe of your store.
But displays don’t always do the job. The way you present your various Halloween-centric wares is what will make or break a sale – whether it be through creative cross-promoting or using humor to catch attention – and it helps to get into the spirit and channel your inner Halloween party-goer.
• Make it easy. Before anything else, make sure that all the no-brainer essentials are front, center and easy to find. If you stock traditional costumes – and you know that’s your seasonal cash cow – dedicate primary space to racks and hooks that can hang as many as possible. End caps make for ideal displays of miscellaneous accessories, props, and makeup. Versatile accessories like fishnet stockings (you can find crotchless versions!) and the Luxoria Masquerade Mask by Greygasms can accessorize a wide variety of sexy costumes.
• Coordinate costume ideas. Many shoppers enter adult stores without a specific idea for a costume – what they DO know is how they want to feel that night. Think outside the box and anticipate the various components that each costume idea may entail, especially if they might require kinky props. For instance, if you have the Lambskin Leather Police Shirt or Pants by Strict Leather, you’d better have a baton (may we suggest the Stainless Steel Phallic Baton by Master Series?), chrome Professional Police Handcuffs, and aviator sunglasses displayed nearby.
• Pull from your year-round stock. Not every costume idea or accessory needs to specifically apply to the holiday – there are myriad bondage and kink items that make for perfect costumes and help shoppers get in the mischievous mindset that Halloween so often inspires. Cuffs, collars, and even animal-play accessories can turn a costume idea up a sexier notch and don’t be afraid to use mannequins to show off your ideas.
For instance, transform an ordinary (yet still sexy) Harley Quinn costume into something titillating by outfitting the usual fishnets, booty shorts, and half-tee with an Annihilator XXXL 18-inch dildo by Master Cock instead of the DC Comic character’s signature hammer. Not only have you upped the sexiness ante, but you’ve also added a little humor to the shopping experience.
Inspiration isn’t always easy to find when you’re super-busy, so our sales team is always available to assist with unique or enticing ways to showcase brands or product lines that feel Halloween-friendly. Whether it be suggestions for pairing merchandise or how to communicate features and benefits of a crossover item, communicating with your sales rep can help get the ball rolling.
Understanding (and Anticipating) Shoppers’ Needs
Knowing the consumer mindset and anticipating the season’s potential most-popular costumes is critical, and knowing what’s trending is an important part. If your store is located in a college town or attracts a more youthful crowd, keep in mind that costume ideas stemming from Internet culture – memes, avatars, social media images – may be as popular as the season’s signature “sexy doctor.” If your customer base is of a different demographic, keep in mind their potential shopping habits and what their scope of costume ideas might stem from. Focus primarily on when they will shop and how they might coordinate sexy items with regular costumes.
• Know your customer. We’ve found that there are two types of Halloween shoppers: the ones who wait until the last-minute and excited long-term planners. Both require special needs. Last-minute shoppers likely won’t have the best pick of costumes and they know this. They’re ready to find what they need – or have a staff member help them figure it out fast – and get out in time for their next party, but they also deserve to feel like they’ve scored a stellar costume. Advance planners, on the other hand, may be shopping well before you have even put out your Halloween stock, so be ready to suggest year-round adult accessories that can boost a costume, such as corsets, hosiery, masks. First-time customers can become long-time loyal shoppers if you go the extra mile and offer to special order items. Advance planners love that kind of personalized service and will get used to using you as a direct source for their needs.
• Sex it up. There’s a strong chance that consumers are doing their Halloween shopping in your adult store because they’re looking for something sexy, so give shoppers extra inspiration by showing them how to level-up the sex factor. For instance, transform the traditional “sexy kitten” costume into “sexy fetish kitten” with a Bad Kitty silicone anal plug tail from Tailz and a Bad Dog Leash and Spiked Collar Kit from Strict Leather. Or suggest using lingerie items in place of (or to amplify) a regular costume: try a waist cincher over a bodysuit for a fast Catwoman costume or suggest strapping a corset over a traditional police or firefighter costume with a Strict Leather riding crop and give the whole look a dominatrix-like edge.
• Show costumes in action. Give shoppers a first-hand look at their costume options by having store staff dress up throughout Halloween season. The best way to inspire a sale is to see the item up close, especially if it’s something to be worn, and witness how it looks on a living, breathing person.
Focus on time, customer knowledge, merchandising and lead by example – but don’t forget to have fun! Use this time to get creative, build your own hybrid adult/mainstream costume ideas, build a community within your store, and create a shopping destination that Halloween fans will use year after year. Just be sure to get your orders in before it’s too late!