Before starting your sex toy business, you must ask yourself: ‘Is this a good time to start this kind of business?’ The answer to this question depends on your personal preferences and the availability of resources. To get started, you should have a combination of business and technical skills, preferably experience in branding or design. Even if you have no prior experience, you should have basic business knowledge.
Starting a sex toy business can feel like taking a walk in the dark. You have to research how to get started; thus, the possibility of getting it wrong is always there.
However, as distinct as it is, you’d be better off if you already have some business experience you can bank on. It will come in handy and help you create a business map for your new entrepreneurial journey.
Read on for an in-depth guide to starting your sex toy business.
Write Down Your Projections In A Business Plan
Writing a business plan is essential to a successful sex toy business. A well-written business plan helps entrepreneurs map out the course of their business, validate their idea, and anticipate the financial demands as they go along. It is also helpful to create a financial analysis that considers all expenses and projections for the future. Besides, it’s critical to choose a bank that can handle your business finances. There are hundreds of banks to choose from, and business banking is no exception.
Find A Wholesale Supplier
The best place to begin when starting a sex toy business is to find a good wholesale supplier you can trust.
Consider the following before settling on a particular supplier:
- They should have good quality sex toys. When customers walk into your shop, they should be guaranteed to find something that matches their preferences. This is a tall order, given that the preferences are broad and different in terms of sex toys. A wholesale sex toys supplier must have various products to choose from, be it lingerie, harnesses, whips, sex games, etc., and all must be of good quality. This availability is also what will allow you to eke out a niche. Because sometimes, the best way to penetrate a market is through defining a focus and a target customer.
- Prices should allow you some wiggle room in your resale prices. Go for the wholesaler who can give you the best all-round prices for their supply process. That means you aren’t just looking at the price of the sex toys themselves but at other costs that may come with it like packaging, shipping, etc.
- Now that you have the quality and price ticked, what’s next? It’s time to make sure your wholesaler can handle large orders and can provide service to a wider geographical scope. This is especially important given the restrictions in some countries and locations that limit the existence of physical sex toy shops. This makes it crucial to make sure your shop can service multiple countries, so the growth of your business isn’t limited to just one or a few locations.
- What are their handling times and delivery speeds? Look at how long it takes your potential supplier to process an order once it’s made and how long it takes to reach you or your customer. Hence, if you’re dropshipping, a good working range is a maximum of between five and seven working days. While on that, confirm that deliveries will arrive in non-branded packaging to ensure the customer gets the best experience no matter who they’re with when the order arrives.
Pick Out A Physical Location Or Base Online
Are you thinking about setting up a brick-and-mortar store instead of basing completely online? This can be a good supplement to your online store. However, there are things you should be thinking about. These are as follows:
- Location. The store should be in a high-traffic location to make sure as many people as possible are aware of its existence. A store’s location can sometimes make or break a new business.
You’ll want to locate your physical store in an area with high demand for your products. Choosing a location where older people with purchasing power live is also important. However, you’ll have to be prepared to put in a good deal of extra effort into marketing your business if you’re somewhere less prominent. Your sex toy store should be located in a prime location to make it easier for potential customers to find you and purchase products.
- Costs Of Setup. Consider how much it will cost you to set up and run your store. Know that a brick-and-mortar store will come with additional expenses as you will have to pay rent, utilities, and more workers, among other things.
You might still want to opt for it, though, given that it comes with the number one advantage of allowing your customers to see, touch, and feel a product before they decide to buy. It can be easier to browse past a product in an online store because it lacks a physical presence. Additionally, for some, the likeliness of buying a product without seeing it first can be frustrating. Yet in a physical store, a buyer has more time to experience your products through sight and touch.
Funding Your Sex Toy Business
If you’ve got everything figured out but still don’t know how you will fund your sex toy business, then these strategies may come in handy:
Bootstrapping is an excellent strategy to follow if you don’t want to incur debt when starting your business or you can’t get funding any other way. However, you’ll need to invest all your profits back into the business to bootstrap.
To begin, you could use some of your savings as your capital. If you find that you don’t have that much in the bank, it doesn’t mean you should give up. Instead, think of a cheaper way to start the business.
For a sex toy business, instead of starting with a brick-and-mortar store, you might want to consider an online store. And even then, instead of keeping an inventory, you might want to create an arrangement with your supplier that allows you to dropship. That way, you don’t need to have that much in start-up capital as you don’t need to buy stock and only need to budget for marketing and other minor business costs.
Cut down as many of your expenses as possible, and instead of hiring, you should consider outsourcing. You will only need to hire a permanent employee.
- Look Into VC Funding
Although a long process, venture capital (VC) funding is still an effective fundraising method. In this strategy, a VC firm will invest in your business in the hope of having a stake in it. With a sex toy business, you only need to consider this route if you’re sure you need to start with a physical store, and you probably think your sex store idea’s execution will be groundbreaking. Going to a VC is supposed to help you find the high start-up costs associated with launching your idea.
In many situations, it’s a good idea to go this route after a bit of bootstrapping. You may often find that you won’t need to go this route if you do the bootstrapping part strategically.
However, if you still need to go, you need to make sure:
- You’re pitching at the right time for your business. Investors tend to want to jump on board early enough to get more equity for less, but not too soon before you have tested your market and your product.
- You have a minimal viable product. Therefore, whatever big idea you’re pitching for your sex toy store, you need to have implemented it even in its most basic form and seen how it goes.
- You have a solid team and proper documentation. Once you have these things, you may now work on fine-tuning your pitch and readying it for your investor.
Create A Comprehensive Marketing Strategy
A strong marketing strategy begins with how you name your business. While you don’t have to trademark sex toys, you are still required to secure a business license and other permits. Likewise, you should register a domain name for your business website. This way, your domain name will match your official business name.
While social media can be a great way to promote a sex toy business, it can only do so much to promote a business. Because social media sites restrict adult content, the best option for online marketing is a website. Promote your website on social media to your friends and group members. In addition, you can also host your products on a cloud-based storage service.
Your website should be user-friendly and offer more information other than product descriptions. Use tabbed information to reduce the clutter and enhance the user experience.
Make sure to include a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page that addresses the most common questions customers may have about the products. The FAQ page is an essential part of the website because you cannot return sex toys for safety or hygiene reasons. It should answer the most common questions and help customers decide if they need to buy them.
This industry, projected to be worth well over 28 billion dollars by Business Wire, is surprisingly still a sensitive topic to discuss in some societies. So, besides generalized marketing advice, you might also think about how to market your products without getting banned. Because that’s the thing with an online store, right? With it, you have a borderless reach. However, you still have to think about whether your ad is legal in your homeland and even in several countries where your customers might be coming from. Then there is the whole thing about social media platforms’ regulations regarding adult content.
Here are some things that might help you navigate:
- Get Educational
Take an educational approach to avoid being overly sexually suggestive in your marketing. This way, your audience is educated on sexual health and wellness, and your content and adverts are seen as more informational than anything else. Keep this in mind even as you choose the imagery for your adverts.
- Capitalize On Your Emailing List
If you don’t already have one, then create one. Facebook or any other social media platform won’t monitor anything you do on email. Hence, while you’re careful in your paid ads, you can loosen up and explain your product benefits more directly in your emails. You might still want to take an educational approach here, too, even though you can now do more than just lay across your points directly on social media ads.
Your emails should have value and encourage readers to click through and find out more. You may then include a call to action in your email that leads a reader to the product(s) you wish them to buy.
- Use Google Ads And Niche Ads
Even though Google has policies concerning adult content in adverts, it’s much more relaxed than Facebook. Hence, use your Google Ads Manager and create your adverts after reviewing the platform.
You may also consider optimizing your ads for niche-specific platforms such as Tinder and other sites where you’re most likely to find people about to make romantic and sexual connections. These are the same people who might find the prospect of getting the products you’re selling interesting and intriguing altogether.
Starting a sex toy business, like any other business, requires prior research and a clear business plan. Next on that list will be to identify a good and reliable wholesale supplier who will help you fulfill your orders and make your prices affordable. Once you know who your potential wholesaler is and how much money you need, it’s time to check if you can start with personal funds or if you’re going to need a boost.
It’s advisable to start with an online shop as it requires fewer funds and might not need you to get external funding at all. Once you have this, identify your audience, then create a marketing plan to grow your business.