The pleasure products industry is slated to continue to thrive in the New Year. However, where there is growth there are challenges. It’s vital to any business to stay competitive and on point. As we head into 2019, the industry faces competition from ecommerce giants like Amazon and advertising restrictions. Specific products, steadfast business practices, and cutting-edge technology will help retailers flourish while vendors and distributors retain customer loyalty. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect in 2019.
More CBD Products
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is an element of cannabis with known medical benefits. CBD allows a consumer the benefit of therapeutic advantages without the “stoned” feeling. At press time, hemp had been legalized through the newly passed Farm Bill and was expected to be signed by President Trump. The full legalization could only mean a surge in revenue for the CBD industry. According to the Hemp Business Journal, the CBD industry generated a billion dollars in sales in 2017.
“CBD is a new category within the adult segment,” said Deanna Kirby, vendor liaison for Williams Trading Co. “We recently expanded with Green Roads Brand and Experience Brand in the CBD category. This new expanding category within the adult channel includes edibles, oils, vape products and daily doses. Our primary focus is on 100 percent pharmacist-formulated CBD without THC.”
Holiday Products President Ken Sahn said he also sees the potential of products in the CBD category.
“Literally anything CBD is a very strong category,” said Sahn. “We have a semi-exclusive with High on Love and it will be huge in 2019.”
Other categories that have seen consistent and projected growth include novelty, lubricants, lingerie, male toys and enhancement products.
“Within the novelty segment we see strong growth with sex machines from Pipedream, Kink by Doc Johnson and the Cloud 9 Sex Machine Pro,” said Kirby.
“One of the biggest frustrations for store owners is the ability to quickly search and find items for inventory replenishment,” says Kirby.
To address the need for ease of ordering, Williams Trading recently launched a new predictive smart search-capable wholesale ordering website.
“This streamlines the search process for new items, new order placement and submits recommendations based on recent purchases and search behavior,” Kirby said. “The buyer engine uses a predictive search analytic model to decipher dates and correctly suggest what our customers are most likely to buy now.”
Williams Trading Co. is implementing online shopping features that are popular with consumers to serve its retail clientele.
“We will have the ability to offer cross-sell and upsell item recommendations like an Amazon shopping experience,” Kirby said. “To further enhance our search capabilities, we worked with our vendor partners to update content and launch the first distributor Smart Search Sex Toy Finder. This custom filter allows customers to drill down their product choice by color, size, manufacturer, material, price, features and more. For our customers, this assists with complex product searches through our 19,000 SKU warehouse. Product search happens in seconds and the website ‘learns’ shopping habits and inventory replenishing needs.”
Holiday Products also is bolstering its online retailer support, Sahn said, adding:
“This was Holiday’s strongest year ever; and we will continue to build on this success. We will be improving our already robust website with some great enhancements.”
Knowledge & Education
When it comes to objectives for the 2019 new year, distributors agree retailer product education and strong vendor relationships hold ground.
“Retailers face various types of consumers,” Eldorado Marketing Director Patrick Lyons said. “From novice to advance — retailers need to be able to educate the consumer and answer questions. For these reasons, we are using technology to convey the message directly from the manufacturer to the retailer to ensure the message is consistent and complete.”
Calling education a key pillar in Eldorado’s 2019 strategy, Lyons said that the company is developing new ways to share knowledge.
“From the next phase of the award-winning program, Elevate U that will provide more enhanced and specific training to the use of social media, Eldorado will continue to be the leader in education. With the new strategy comes an entire new set of marketing tactics for retailers. Eldorado will be leveraging web-based tools to enhance the messaging from manufacturer to retailer and from retailer to end consumer as well as tools that allow us to be more nimble. Speed and consistency is important at reducing clutter and message fatigue in the marketplace and with these tactics we will not only be able to be more prompt, but we will also be able to tell a more complete story.”
Sahn proudly boasts about the veteran distribution company’s experienced sales team.
“The greatest support we have for our retailers is our veteran sales team,” he says of Holiday Products’ sales force. “Our account managers have an average 14-plus years’ experience in our industry and they know their sh**! Our retailers vary from mom-and-pop stores to retail chains, home party planners, proprietary websites and third-party resellers. All their needs are different, and our team and resources are always there for them.”
Competing With Amazon
While Amazon may be taking some business away from brick-and-mortar retailers, distributors are confident that by offering a superior, more personal experience, store operators will continue to thrive.
“A clean, beautiful, inviting store with a knowledgeable, friendly and discreet staff is the key,” says Kirby. “Quite simply, I think brick-and-mortar stores just need to be the best they can be. Amazon has changed the face of retail, but the Amazon shopper is different than those that want the tactile, visceral experience of feeling, touching and experiencing. It has to be the retailer’s mission to make the customer experience so special they will pay a little bit more for that experience.”
Amazon offers more than 40,000 products in the health and wellness categories today, combined with increasing manufacturers selling directly in this open marketplace.
“We provide several digital marketing tools to allow a brick-and-mortar adult retailer to compete with this channel,” Kirby said, noting that Williams Trading’s e-learning platform, WTU University, has been operating for more than five years to help certify store associates to have a competitive edge.
“Our digital marketing support comes in the form of several unique marketing programs including the Williams Trading University free e-learning modules, WTU Store Builder, Williams Trading’s new release weekly digital flip catalogs, WTU in-market road shows and partnership with inventory source to allow data feed integration for drop-shippers.”
As always, the sex industry continues to rise to the occasion to keep up with market demand.