“What’s new?” That phrase keeps companies creating new products, new stimulators, new vibes, new things to stick in, new things to rub on, new, new, new. Every sex toy show has vendors displaying what’s new so they can be bought by distributors to bring them to their retailers to show them what’s new because a customer will always ask, “what’s new?”
New is always great but what about the tried and true products that may have been in your inventory that perhaps you’ve forgotten about? Remember the one gizmo that was a bestseller and then you sold the last one on the slat wall then forgot to reorder it because it wasn’t in front of you? Or the one that still remains in your computer system but wasn’t picked up by your automated ordering system? Remember those great toys you find yourself missing? Yes, products slipping through the reorder system happen all the time.
New is always great but what about the tried and true products that may have been in your inventory that perhaps you’ve forgotten about?
So how do you get them back?
One way is to rely on your staff to choose “staff picks.” Staff picks, past and current, can be highlighted in your store or online because, like when you’re in a restaurant and ask your server, “What do you recommend?” staff picks can guide a consumer towards a product that a staffer has known and loved and most of all, trusted. Keep track of staff picks over the years to revisit those products and perhaps add them to your shelves again so new customers can still enjoy these recommendations.
If you don’t already have an employee feedback notebook (either online or a good ol’ pad o’ paper), create one so staff can write down when the last of a product is sold. Make sure your store buyer stays on top of this list so the gap between being out of stock and having it on hand is small.
Another idea is to work closely with your distributors. Look at previous orders, going back from a few months to a few years. Perhaps the items you would like to restock are still available but perhaps they are discontinued. Your distributor is more than helpful in that area and if a distributor has told you a product is discontinued yet you still want to sell it, check the inventory at your secondary or tertiary distributor as sometimes they still have that product in stock.
But there is yet another layer in the supply chain when it comes to tracking down former bestsellers and that is the manufacturers themselves. One way to see if a product is still being made is simply by looking at the manufacturer’s website for the particular item. Often, if it is NOT there, there’s a good likelihood that the item has been discontinued, in which case, you’re S.O.L. and its time to fill in the slot on the slat with another product.
Then there’s another tricky area when it comes to manufacturers and it’s when they encounter their own problems with manufacturing.
About two decades ago, there was a fire at the Doc Johnson factory in California that all but decimated the availability of realistically shaped rubber vibrators and dildos. It took months to rebuild the facility in order to get back online to pour the much-demanded rubber toys and when they did, there were many happy retailers and consumers.
Topco also went through a supply chain issue in 2012 when they weren’t able to fulfill orders, again because of a supply chain issue. The company did a sharp pivot, dug in its heels, and is now regaining retail shelf space with not only their previous bestsellers but with many new products as well. Better check those previous staff picks from Topco and bring ‘em back in!
Previous bestsellers that haven’t been on the shelf for some time can still be thought of as “new” if staffers or customers haven’t seen them in a while. It’s like welcoming back an old friend you haven’t see in a while.
And then there’s the new. Pretty much every major manufacturer creates new products to keep things fresh and exciting and it’s up to buyers to seek them out. Ask your distributor what’s new and they are sure to give you a list for as long as you want to listen and learn. The majority of distributors also send out emails as to what they have that’s new and in stock. If a manufacturer has an email list available, jump right to the source and sign up for those emails, too, as learning what is new and exciting at the manufacturing level will keep your offerings stimulating and exciting for both your staff and your customer.
Check about new technologies being applied to popular items such as remote controlled rabbits, vibrators and cock rings. Or app controlled gizmos that seem to be gaining in market share and could be the next big seller in your store. Maybe the former bestsellers are being made in a different material that your customer will like (notice how many products these days are made without using those stinky phthalates?). Perhaps that line of staff pick toys has increased and there are a lot more favorites to be had.
The opportunities to add those “what’s new?” products will keep your store fresh and current, even with those classic staff favorites right up there with them. Time to revisit those top choices and create some new ones! You and your staff will be happy and your customer will always come back for more.
Kim Airs is the founder of sexuality boutique GrandOpening.com. She is a consultant for all aspects of the adult toy industry: training, sales, marketing, etc. She loves her job!