LOS ANGELES — Adult industry veteran Scott Stein connects retailers with some of the leading manufacturers in porn using his innovative new company The S.T.O.R.E. Program.
S.T.O.R.E., an acronym for Supporting the Onsite Retail Establishment, is designed to streamline communication between the brick-and-mortar retail professional and the industry executive in a fashion that has not previously been implemented in the adult world. It accomplishes that through its team of manufacturer’s reps that has visited almost one thousand retail locations nationwide since it launched during the second quarter of 2010.
The S.T.O.R.E. Program (TSP) currently represents Zero Tolerance Entertainment, New Sensations and Wicked Pictures on the DVD production side; and Pipedream Products, Evolved Novelties and System Jo on the toy & novelty side.
“The S.T.O.R.E. Program is my company. I have my clients and we have five reps currently traveling throughout the country. They each have different territories and they are visiting stores that sell adult products,” Stein tells XBIZ.
A native of New York, Stein is a marketing and public relations specialist with 15 years of industry experience working to build the brands of companies such as Zero Tolerance, Evolved, California Exotic Novelties, Red Light District and Sin City.
He said The S.T.O.R.E. Program is similar to what companies in the pharmaceutical industry and other major corporations such as Pepsi Cola, Frito Lay and Procter & Gamble have been doing for decades.
“They all employ people to visit stores and educate and merchandise on the behalf of the manufacturer,” Stein notes.
TSP territories encompass the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, the Texas area and the Northwest. S.T.O.R.E. reps utilize CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software — the same technology also used by Fortune 500 companies, banks and financial institutions — to enter data while they are on site.
And the S.T.O.R.E. rep’s objective is multi-faceted.
“They’re there to educate and they’re there to disseminate information about all of the brands,” Stein explains. “They’re not out there saying this brand is better than this brand and you should only carry this brand. They’re educating the clerks, the managers and the store personnel on the qualities, characteristics and virtues of the manufacturers they represent.
“That’s the big part. With the consumer being more and more educated, it’s really important for store personnel to have an understanding of the products and everything that goes with them if they’re going to sell it.”
Stein adds, “I think it’s human nature that the more comfortable and knowledgeable someone is about a product, the more likely they are to talk about it.”
The reps also offer point-of-purchase and point-of-sale support, such as supplying retailers with materials such as promotional signs and shelf talkers.
“We’re also there to offer merchandising tips,” Stein says. “Our reps have come from the mainstream, so they’re applying the same sensibility they used for mainstream companies for years. And we’re also serving as a direct conduit between the manufacturer and the store. So if the store has suggestions or concerns, we’re there to relay those directly to the manufacturer.”
Stein jokes that The S.T.O.R.E. Program does not discriminate. He wants his reps to visit everyone.
“If they’re in business we’re visiting them. We have a very strict screening policy. If they pick up the phone and sell adult, we’re going in,” Stein says with a grin. “We’re giving a footprint of the store — a snapshot if you will — which is valuable data for the manufacturers.”
Stein emphasizes that The Program “has nothing at all to do with selling.”
“This program and the manufacturers are continuing to support the distributors,” he emphasizes. “We’re looking to build a relationship with all of the distributors. Clearly they’re not set up to go out and visit all of their accounts, but we can work with them in servicing those accounts.”
He adds, “Once the stores understand we’re not selling anything and that we’re really there as a support tool, they’re very receptive.”
Overall, Stein says the response to S.T.O.R.E. has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
“When you think about it, if you’re a small store in Ohio or rural Pennsylvania and the adult industry, for all intents and purposes, is located in California and you’re getting a visit on behalf of some of the big manufacturers in the industry, they’re quite receptive. Very few manufacturers are taking the time to go out and meet brick and mortar stores and support them.”
Stein says he is open to taking on new clients.
“We thought if we were going to launch we wanted to launch with the biggest, and in many instances, the best companies out there,” he continues. “When we walk into a store and we represent Wicked, New Sensations, Zero Tolerance, Pipedream, Evolved and System Jo, we have instant credibility. Almost every store in the country stocks those brands or at the very least has some knowledge about every one of them. It was important that we took on the leaders in the industry at the start.”
Stein says the initial visit to a location is just the beginning; follow-ups are part of the S.T.O.R.E. system.
“Like in any other business it’s all about relationships and the onus is on us that we’re not just in there auditing them, we’re there as a support tool,” Stein said. “We’re looking at this as a long-term relationship, we’re not just one and done.
“And in our short period of existence our reps have developed relationships with many of the stores within their territory.”
Visit TheStoreProgram.com for more information.