This month, EdenFantasys is celebrating its 10-year anniversary. What began as a small retail company offering adult toys and novelties has grown into a sex-positive powerhouse, featuring an extensive product selection that includes a wide array of adult products, as well as lingerie and bodycare. However, EdenFantasys isn’t just a retail website. The company has spent 10 years developing an innovative brand foundation, complete with a social community, consumer product review program, as well as an e-magazine and blogger network. As the company reaches this anniversary milestone, founder Fred Petrenko reflects on past growth, future development, and the present achievements of EdenFantasys.
Discuss EdenFantasys as it is often compared to Amazon.com. What qualities and/or principles are similar to EdenFantasys?
On the eve of our 10-year anniversary, we are very excited about the upcoming release of Sexis Social, an open publishing platform for the community.
Besides the fact that I personally like [Amazon.com founder] Jeff Bezos’ ideas and I am a fan of his, there is just too big of a difference between us to make any major parallels, but there are some similarities along a few lines. We are both online marketers, service companies, we work with our market stakeholders, and we have long-term views.
As an online marketer, that means we are a data and technology-driven company. As a 100 percent online company, it is a known challenge to generate traffic, but a lesser known challenge to efficiently convert it. We collect, analyze and monitor a great deal of data.
We also understand the importance of working with all market stakeholders: manufacturers, distributors, other retailers, and of course, our customers. I believe that the formula for a successful business is not based on working as an individual company, thinking of it as us versus them, but rather, based on being part of a circular pattern of expertise, where our efforts together create value for each other. And with our customers, I don’t believe the story ends with a shipped order. I believe in creating and maintaining open communication with our customers, and developing different ways for many people to do many meaningful things on our website. This is why we started the EdenCommunity, EdenLink, Sexis magazine, the EdenReview program, and many more of the services now available on our website.
We are a service company. People who call a website a “shopping cart” do not realize how much value a website can add to the customer experience. Some may ask, “Why do you need so much functionality to sell a $30 toy?” The answer is simple: people love great service, they remember a fun experience, and that drives them to come back. We want people to know we are reliable, professional and trustworthy, but most of all, fun.
We have long-term views. The Internet is still a very young medium, and ecommerce in its virtual infancy. There is a great deal to invent and re-invent. It is exciting, full of opportunity, and a wonderful business venue that is here to stay. It will take some time, but online will have a significant impact on our industry as a whole, because it means that we are available to wider markets. EdenFantasys is also expanding our selection beyond traditional adult category products, and the results are impressive. By putting a rabbit and a body wash together on one page, and showing this combination 10 million times, we make an impact on the public perception of our industry. And this is how we understand the “going mainstream” adult agenda today. We believe in sex-positive. We believe in education and empowerment.
Discuss the early beginnings of EdenFantasys and the EdenCommunity.
EdenFantasys began as retail site. Once we figured out the ecommerce basics, the EdenCommunity was born. It soon became our primary focus, because the community is like a baby — it brings to us both daunting challenges and the greatest of joys. We try to make the community an integral part of Eden retail experience. The EdenCommunity helps our customers shop, helps us run a business, and enables manufacturers to get opinions and feedback on their products.
The EdenCommunity has introduced us to the tremendous complexity of operating a living, breathing social network. Social is a popular word today, but most of us happily experience social from the front end. For Eden, social means a lot of work! It comes with the ever-evolving complexity of a community that has made Eden a part of their daily lives. Running the community has become the real quest, surpassing the “regular” challenges of running an online ecommerce store.
Crowd collaboration has become one of the main features of modern marketing. We actively seek collaboration with our customers and are constantly building tools that allow our audience to voice their thoughts and create the experience they like.
Tell me about the significance of Eden’s community — does it take precedence over EdenFantasys’ retail functions?
The symbiotic relationship between Eden’s community and retail efforts is in reality, very complicated, but in the simplified model, the community supports our retail, and our retail supports the community. We don’t try to influence the choices of our community, but understand that what is good for them is good for us. Our community recently celebrated an impressive achievement with 1 million forum posts. Our community brings in new people, new ideas, and new opportunities for growth that benefit not only the community, but the retail side, and this relationship allows for mutually beneficial growth.
How many EdenFantasys reviewers currently are there in the program?
There are a number of levels in the EdenReview program, including descriptive reviews, blog reviews, video reviews, and more. People constantly come and go, but the base of our advanced reviewer program is currently over 20,000 strong. In January of this year, the review program reached 50,000 reviews. On average, the program produces and publishes 700 full reviews a week, including followup reviews and photo and video submissions.
What is the difference: EdenFantasys vs. EdenCafe vs. Sexis?
Sexis and EdenCafe are two channels of the overall EdenFantasys brand. Eden-Cafe is the company blog, where we showcase featured products, host contests, and publish posts regarding community events, site upgrades and changes, and more. Sexis is our e-magazine. This is where we host articles from writers in sexuality, health, humor, relationships and news.
While EdenCafe’s content is managed by EdenFantasys, Sexis content is all contributor based. People are free to send in submissions and posts about a wide variety of topics. We create monthly themes and pose thought-provoking questions and topics for contributors to tackle, but anyone with a story or a message to share is free to do so. Also, Sexis is getting a makeover, so stay tuned!
Please discuss the recent improvements to EdenFantasys.
EF is constantly in development. We release, on average, one major feature a month, and several smaller improvements a week. Our efforts are most visible on the front-end, but we are also developing our infrastructure. EdenFantasys just released a mobile-compatible website, resulting in many happy customers. We also just added an extensive catalog of lingerie, and launched a new category of bodycare products. These additions have been very well received by both customers and our reviewers.
Many of our recent improvements include our warehouse and fulfillment automation. We work on improving order delivery logistics in order to make inexpensive services available, and to reduce the minimum order amount for customers to qualify for free shipping. We also just introduced a new checkout option for Google wallet, and as always, we are upgrading our networks to keep in pace with increasing PCI compliance requirements.
Also in the works are private forums, which will facilitate the next level of community growth. On top of that, we are also launching a new generation of interactive product guides, and review apps for smart phones.
On the eve of our 10-year anniversary, we are very excited about the upcoming release of Sexis Social, an open publishing platform for the community. Now, contributors can write for Sexis directly from their EdenAccount, and we believe this update will further unify the growing community with our e-magazine.
Anything you’d like to say to EdenFantasys fans and colleagues?
We thank everyone who has been with us for these past 10 years and who helped us to find our niche. It’s been an exciting ride and we are looking forward to the future that we will help to shape.