opinion

Is the Art of Shibari the Next Hot Trend in Adult Retail?

Is the Art of Shibari the Next Hot Trend in Adult Retail?

We see them when we walk into adult stores, usually in their own little sections — bundles and bundles of beautiful rope. Some rope comes in a hemp material with varying degrees of roughness and length; other rope is designed to be silky-soft for either the pro or beginner. Cotton rope can easily be dyed beautiful colors, allowing for works of art to be created with knots in vivid shades. The possibilities are endless, but it seems that we have a bit of a pleasure gap when it comes to connecting rope with other adult pleasure products.

There are several ways to approach the rope section in your store, but the best way to start is to consider who your rope customer is. This does not mean narrowing it down to one type of customer, but rather gathering data for planning a strategy. For example, your store may be close to a large BDSM community and rope is a staple for you. Or, your store could have more of a couples-orientated audience, and light or vanilla bondage would be more appealing to your customer base. Either way, creating a beautiful rope section is necessary to complement other items in your store.

I love to see niche companies connect with retailers and offer something unique in adult stores that mainstream retail does not have.

There are different kinds of rope customers to think about — such as bondage play first-timers. This customer isn’t looking for a complicated novelty. They want rope or bondage products that are pre-tied, easy to get in and out of, and soft on the skin. Essentially, you need rope products that come tied as handcuffs, harnesses, ankle restraints, and other classic-style “ties.” The price points on these items should also make them ideal as add-ons. Rope can be an awesome upsell on various products, such as classic metal cuffs or more expensive items. You should always recommend traditional add-ons like lube and toy cleaner, but also try suggesting some wrist cuffs where you might normally add on a pocket-sized item. Couples that are looking to add something fun to their toy purchase are great customers to convert into sales. Rope becomes a perfect option. It’s one of the most overlooked categories in a store, but it has huge potential for revenue.

There are also more experienced rope fans, including both those that enjoy being tied, and those that like doing the tying. “Rope bunny” is a term used to describe people who enjoy being tied up and invest in having a good variety of rope options — like toy fans that buy the latest and greatest vibrators as they come out. Rope bunnies, in my experience, buy most of their rope online, partly for purchasing custom colors or rope types, but also out of a lack of purchasing options in retail stores. This would be a great customer to convert to in-store purchasing by expanding your rope section to include beginners and professional riggers. Riggers are the people who enjoy tying others up. Riggers, much like rope bunnies, buy most of their rope online. This customer would need non-novelty rope and more industrial type gear. This provides stores an excellent opportunity to source new vendors or manufacturers. I love to see niche companies connect with retailers and offer something unique in adult stores that mainstream retail does not have. Again, having a strong rope category can create and generate additional revenue streams.

Pinterest and Etsy are two places you can find some cool rope, and neat rope art ideas. See what you can implement in your stores with what you already have. Do you have some extra mannequins that you could use as a display for rope? Have your associates practice some simple knots in their downtime that they can teach to customers. There is an overall lack of this type of product represented in adult stores, so this is an opportunity to learn and grow within our own four walls. Work with your manufacturers and create some signage that easily demonstrates fun and playful ties. Clear up some common misconceptions among customers, like that rope is too “hardcore,” or that they need a select set of skills to enjoy indulging in this type of bondage.

Rope also tends to be gender-friendly and body-positive. I was in a store working with some wrist cuffs, and a gentleman mentioned that rope cuffs were the only ones that fit him. It was such a simple moment but it reminded me of how important products like this are for accommodating our customer base in wider spaces.

Hopefully, something in this article resonated with you regarding how you display rope in your bondage areas. Use this opportunity to come up with some fun new store displays, layer rope on top of lingerie, reach out to potential new vendors, and finally, learn some new skills we can pass on to continue enhancing customers’ overall pleasure. Rope to me is one of the simplest and shortest ways to connect with someone; it does not require conversation or effort — just trust and an open mind.

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

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