opinion

Adult Retail Biz Thrives With Online Community

Adult Retail Biz Thrives With Online Community

I struggled this month with deciding on a topic for my XBIZ article. Often, it’s easy to choose what to talk about based on current feedback I’m hearing in stores or from fellow road reps. I search for topics that not only resonate with me, but hopefully are also important to our industry family. I love when I read something from a favorite editor, and it feels like it was written just for me. That is the experience I hope to impart with some of you that choose to spend time with me through my articles.

But life has been different lately. Those conversations and topics that usually organically appear have changed, and I want to change with them. So I looked at some of the things that I would want to talk with you about if we were sitting in person — as a manufacturer, I want to hear about what is happening in your store.

I love that we have been able to see a bit more of the humanity in each other than we did before.

The pandemic has forced all of us to be more adaptable and solution-oriented. A lot of old “rules” and barriers are no longer there, and as sales reps, we are empowered to work with you. I don’t just want to talk to you about my brand — I want to know about how your store’s employees are holding up and what we can do to boost their morale. Store associates have been through a lot and are on our frontlines, which must be more challenging now than before. How can I, as a manufacturer, help you take care of your employees?

I know social distancing rules have made shopping more challenging. What can manufacturers do to ease some of the burden? Our teams are ready to support you. Don’t think of us as your manufacturers or sales reps; we are your family and are here to take care of you. You help take care of us when we need it.

How has the Black Lives Matter movement impacted you and your team? This is tough. There are some hard conversations being had right now and it impacts all of us. Our industry has recently been called out for its shortcomings when it comes to race, and we are all striving to make positive changes to do better. Packaging, graphics, imagery and verbiage are all things that have gone overlooked and are going to take time to change, but the important thing is recognizing where we can improve and act on those issues. I look forward to a more inclusive industry that is forever growing and connecting. I love the diversity I see while visiting stores, and I would love to talk to you about how we can do more, together.

While we may be physically separated, most of us have become closer through online contact. It’s a new virtual world that we live in and are learning to thrive in. I want to connect with retailers to discuss training and product education that store associates can access from home. There are employees that sometimes spend two or three hours traveling to a store for a 45-minute product training. I hear you — let’s make these easier. I understand that it’s hard to take people off the sales floor or extend hours for training. How can I be more accessible to you and your employees? I’ve turned my webinar trainings into a “Netflix and chill”-style session, so that people can tune in from the store or home. We do mornings and evenings, weekdays and weekends. Let me know how this is helpful or how we manufacturers can make product education easier to access. Let’s get out of our comfort zones together and laugh about online trainings gone awry.

One of the fun byproducts of at-home trainings is getting to see our colleagues at home, in their natural habitat. I love that we have been able to see a bit more of the humanity in each other than we did before. Also, sending a friendly scratch and pet to all of your fur babies I’ve seen at home with you!

Finally, let’s discuss how hard it is to do all the things I mentioned above at once. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the things you are “supposed” to be doing in your stores. As part of your online resources to check out during social distancing, I would recommend the following online groups for retailers or manufacturers to stay connected.

On Facebook, check out the “Retail Peeps” group. It is perfect for all industry news, at every level. Trade show information is posted here as well, and is a great place to “meet” other industry people.

The P3 (Pleasure Professionals Place) Facebook group, moderated by industry vets Paul Reutershan, Steve Sav and Tamara Bell, is great for manufacturers to post product information, brand updates, and other industry-related news. It is a great group for anyone — from manufacturer to store associate. It is well-moderated and offers a broad range of content.

SPAM (Sex Professionals and Manufacturers), a Facebook Group moderated by Deja Vu’s Megan Swartz, is focused on product education. Live trainings are typically held on Thursdays at 11 a.m., Central Time. It is great for retailers wanting to connect with each other and learn about product. It is also good for retailers seeking to connect over shared product questions, or to find out what distributors may carry items you are interested in.

These are conversations that many of us are accustomed to having in person. However, I encourage you to reach out and start having them in our new virtual world.

Danielle Seerley, aka “America’s Sex Toy Sweetheart,” is the senior sales executive for Shibari Wands and Voodoo Toys.

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