How Adult Retailers' Expertise Outshines Mainstream

How Adult Retailers' Expertise Outshines Mainstream

Brick-and-mortar retailers are the very lifeblood of our industry, and their customers are its pulse. Pandemic lockdowns and curbside pickups got many folks accustomed to shopping online, but now the allure of shopping in person has begun to return, and brick-and-mortar retailers need to meet that demand.

Our customers are growing in both curiosity and knowledge, which is the perfect storm for deeper conversations and meaningful interactions to take place, whether in person, on the phone or — especially — on social media.

Normalizing conversation around all aspects of sexual health is the key to our continued growth, and the formula for a strong and vibrant future.

The one thing big-box stores and mass online selling platforms do not and cannot do is engage in conversations around products and the sexual needs of customers. They can’t meet their customers intimately and decipher whether that butt plug is actually what the customer is really looking for or needs. Of course, not every sale is a special, intimate conversation about surviving cervical or prostate disease and the emotional impact and physical implications, but every sale at a local pleasure products retailer can be a truly personalized experience.

I miss 2020 numbers. I have a feeling you do too. How can we get back there sooner rather than later? Well, if there is going to be a “great resurgence” toward that level of business, then educating retail staff is going to be vital. I don’t mean just product training. I mean having a deep understanding about how our products impact people’s bodies.

Let’s roll through an example. Glass. Glass dildos and butt plugs are great for temperature play, as you likely already know if you ever sat in on any training with any brand that crafts glass dils or dongs. It’s a great talking/selling point, but why? Why does the fact that glass can hold heat and cold matter?

Cramps, that’s why. Heat and cold can both help reduce inflammation in different kinds of tissues. In sports medicine, a common practice is “heat before, ice after.” Technically, the same thing applies to sex! Suggest to your vagina-owning customers that they heat up glass and insert as deeply as is comfortable. Masturbating with it isn’t necessary but it could help because as the cervix flutters, it will essentially suck in the heat from the source and help to calm the intensity of pain.

So, your customer is in your store, gazing at the glass wall, waiting for the wand to choose the wizard. Sure, there are a lot of brands, shapes and sizes to choose from, but what would they get the most benefit out of? Walking up to that customer and delivering the right nugget of information — not just that glass can be heated or cooled, but why that matters and how it could really help them personally — can make a hell of a difference. Plus, you can cross-sell them the perfect lube!

Have you ever been in Target, looking at pillowcases, and had an associate come up to you and explain that while the silk may be more expensive, it also helps eliminate creases on the skin and is far gentler on the face than cotton? Me neither. Granted, I use Olay Regenerist for that, but I digress. The point is, sales associates in those places are not going to explain why something may work for me in particular.

It’s different in your store. When you or your staff swoop in and save the day with a little knowledge, that gives customers permission to ask more questions. It opens up the ever-important dialogue that is imperative for keeping every customer as a repeat customer.

Education, saying #screwtaboo and normalizing conversation around all aspects of sexual health is the key to our continued growth, and the formula for a strong and vibrant future.

Josh Ortiz is a sex educator and brand ambassador for XR Brands. As a transgender man, his experience spans gender and sexuality, affording him the privilege of connecting with humanity on a deep and intimate level.


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