Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar Sex Toy Stores: Which is Right for You?

- 10 mins read

Selling sex toys these days is one of the most lucrative businesses these days. The global market for adult stores, valued at $29.5 billion in 2023, is anticipated to expand to $46.7 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.9% over the 2023 to 2030.

With the market so huge, everyone wants to know how to sell sex toys and where to sell sex toys. There are two distinct methods for selling sex toys: traditional brick-and-mortar sex toy stores and contemporary online stores.

Both types of stores have pros and cons. We will discuss both stores in detail so that you can choose the right one for you.

So, without further ado, let us jump right into the discussion.

What Is a Brick And Mortar Sex Toy Store?

A brick-and-mortar sex toy store is a physical retail establishment that specializes in selling sex toys and adult novelty items, including vibrators, lubricants, lingerie, and other related merchandise.

Brick And Mortar Sex Toy Store
Brick And Mortar Sex Toy Store

In the United States alone, there are approximately 8,951 sex toy stores, and the number is significantly more on a global scale.

Brick-and-mortar sex toy shops provide a tangible, in-person shopping experience where customers can view, touch, and sometimes test products before making a purchase.

These stores often offer a more personalized shopping experience with knowledgeable staff available to provide advice and recommendations. 

Brick-and-mortar sex toy stores cater to a wide range of customers, offering a safe and discrete environment to explore and purchase products that enhance sexual pleasure and intimacy.

What Is An Online Sex Toy Store?

An online sex toy store is a digital retail platform that specializes in selling a variety of sexual products and adult novelty items, such as vibrators, dildos, lubricants, lingerie, and other intimate accessories.

Online Sex Toys Store
Online Sex Toys Store

Unlike traditional brick-and-mortar stores, these online platforms allow customers to browse and purchase products discreetly from the comfort of their own homes.

They often provide a more comprehensive range of products, detailed descriptions, and customer reviews to help buyers make informed decisions.

With secure payment options and discreet packaging, online sex toy stores cater to a diverse audience, offering convenience, privacy, and a broader selection than their physical counterparts.

Also, as the cost to start a sex toy business is not so high online, one can choose this method thinking of entering the business.

Online vs. Brick-and-Mortar Sex Toy Stores: Pros and Cons

Now that we have understood the types of sex toy stores let us look at the pros and cons of both these types that will help you pick the right one.

1. Instant Purchase

At a traditional brick-and-mortar sex toy store, customers have the advantage of being able to purchase products immediately if they find something they like.

With the items physically present before them, they can make a decision on the spot, pay at the checkout, and take their chosen sex toys home without any delay. This instant gratification allows for immediate use and eliminates any waiting time, providing a seamless and convenient shopping experience.

Conversely, this immediate availability is not the case with online sex toy stores. While they offer the convenience of shopping from home, the delivery process inherently involves a waiting period.

The earliest an online store can deliver your chosen product is typically within the same day, but even that requires some lead time for processing and shipping. And if it is international shipping of adult toys, then it takes longer than usual.

This means that, despite the ease and discretion of online shopping, customers must be prepared to wait for their purchase to arrive, which can range from a few hours to several days, depending on the shipping option selected.

So, physical sex toy stores win when it comes to instant purchases.

2. Market Size And Reach

Brick-and-mortar stores are limited to a particular locality and have a limited market size. People only from that zip code will be the permanent customers of the physical store, and it will be challenging to expand the market.

Whereas online sex toy stores have a global market. Anyone with an internet connection can order from any online sex toy store (provided they deliver to the order location) and get the product.

Also, expanding an online sex toy market is also easy and convenient as it won’t take too many resources.

As online sex toy stores have a broader market and greater audience, it is the clear winner here.

3. Check For The Right Size And Condition

In a brick-and-mortar sex toy store, customers have the distinct advantage of being able to physically inspect the products before purchasing. They can check for the right size, texture, and overall condition of the items, ensuring they meet their specific preferences and requirements.

Checking the Right Size and Condition of Sex Toys on an Online Sex Toy Store
Checking the Right Size and Condition of Sex Toys on an Online Sex Toy Store

This hands-on experience allows customers to gauge the quality and suitability of the products, leading to more confident purchasing decisions. Additionally, customers can seek immediate assistance from store staff if they have any questions or concerns about the items they are interested in.

When shopping at an online sex toy store, customers do not have the opportunity to physically examine the products before making a purchase. Instead, they must rely on product descriptions, images, and customer reviews to assess the items’ size, quality, and condition, as shown in the image below.

While many online stores provide detailed information and size charts, it can still be challenging to fully ascertain a product’s exact characteristics without seeing it in person.

Upon delivery, customers can check the condition of the items, and reputable online stores usually offer return or exchange policies to address any issues with size, fit, or quality. However, this process involves additional time and effort compared to the immediate verification available in physical stores.

Therefore, brick-and-mortar sex toy stores win here as they allow buyers to feel the product before purchase.

4. Trying Before Buying

In a brick-and-mortar sex toy store, customers have the advantage of physically inspecting products before making a purchase. While they cannot typically “try” sex toys in the traditional sense for hygiene and safety reasons, they can handle the items to feel the texture, test the flexibility, and get a sense of the size and weight. 

Many stores also have display models that allow customers to see how products operate, such as observing the vibration patterns or checking the noise levels.

This hands-on experience helps customers make more informed decisions and ensures that the product meets their expectations before committing to a purchase. 

Additionally, store staff can provide demonstrations or explain the features and functionalities of different items.

In contrast, online sex toy stores do not offer the opportunity to physically interact with products before buying. Customers must rely on product descriptions, images, and reviews to decide.

Some advanced online stores provide virtual tools like 3D models or videos to help customers better understand the product. However, these tools cannot fully replicate the experience of handling the product in person.

Despite the lack of a physical “try before you buy” option, many online stores compensate with detailed information, customer reviews, and sometimes generous return policies.

These policies allow customers to return or exchange products if they are unsatisfied. This adds a level of assurance, but it involves a waiting period and potential inconvenience compared to the immediacy of physical stores.

Both are winners here, as both types of sex toy stores provide distinct advantages in understanding the products before buying.

5. Options

In a brick-and-mortar sex toy store, customers can enjoy a curated selection of products, often arranged by category, brand, or purpose. While these stores offer a tactile and immediate shopping experience, their physical space may limit the number of available options.

However, many stores compensate by providing a diverse range of products, including best-sellers and high-demand items, ensuring customers can access various choices.

Despite space constraints, these stores often rotate their stock and introduce new items to keep the selection fresh and up-to-date.

Online sex toy stores typically offer a much wider variety of products compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Without physical space limitations, they can stock an extensive range of items, from mainstream to niche products.

Customers can browse countless options, filtering by categories, brands, features, and price ranges. The vast selection allows customers to explore a broad spectrum of choices that might not be available in a local store. 

Online stores win here as the options are higher than the brick-and-mortar stores.

6. Customization

Customization options in a brick-and-mortar sex toy store are typically limited due to the constraints of physical inventory and the need to cater to immediate, off-the-shelf purchases.

However, some stores may offer a degree of personalization, such as engraving services for certain items or the ability to select specific features, like color or texture, from available stock. In-store staff can also guide how to use products in customized ways to meet individual preferences.

Customers can sometimes find boutique or specialty stores that offer a more tailored experience, including custom orders or bespoke items. 

Online sex toy stores often provide more robust customization options, thanks to their ability to collaborate with manufacturers and offer a wider variety of products. 

Customers can frequently choose from an extensive range of custom features, such as selecting specific sizes, colors, materials, and even patterns for their products. Some online retailers specialize in made-to-order or personalized items, allowing customers to design their sex toys to fit their unique preferences and needs.

The online platform’s flexibility and broader reach enable a higher degree of personalization, making it easier for customers to find or create products that perfectly match their desires.

Online stores win here because of the extensive customization they offer.

7. Price

In a brick-and-mortar sex toy store, prices, such as rent, utilities, and staff wages, tend to reflect the overhead costs associated with maintaining a physical retail space.

Consequently, products may be slightly more expensive compared to their online counterparts. 

Physical stores often have periodic sales, promotions, and loyalty programs to attract and retain customers. Additionally, the lack of shipping costs can make purchasing larger or bulkier items more cost-effective in a brick-and-mortar setting.

Online sex toy stores generally offer more competitive pricing due to lower operational costs, such as not needing to maintain a physical storefront or extensive staff.

This allows them to pass savings on to customers through lower prices. Online stores frequently offer discounts, promotional codes, and seasonal sales, making it easier for customers to find deals and special offers and prompting them to choose online stores.

Moreover, customers can easily compare prices across multiple online retailers to find the best value. However, it’s important to factor in potential shipping costs, which can vary depending on the delivery speed and location.

Despite this, the overall cost of purchasing from an online sex toy store is often lower, providing a cost-effective option for budget-conscious shoppers, so online sex toy stores win here.

Which Sex Toy Store Is Right For You?

The above section clearly explains the pros and cons of the two different sex toy stores. In this section, we will discuss which sex toy store is best for you to sell sex toys, depending on some prominent factors.

1. Personal Comfort And Privacy

The type of sex toy store one chooses usually depends on one’s comfort level and the privacy one wants to maintain. As online sex toy stores allow both sellers and buyers to be anonymous and keep their identities private, it has to be the best option.

As people would want to keep their identity anonymous, shopping in online sex toy stores would be more convenient. Therefore, setting up an online sex toy store would be more profitable from a business perspective.

As people would be willing to buy in the comfort of their home, online sex toy store is the way to go for business people if they want to enter this business.

2. Physical Inspection

Many people prefer to inspect a sex toy in person before making a purchase. Since online sex toy stores cannot offer this tactile experience, they can provide 3D models or detailed videos to give customers a clear understanding of the product.

Additionally, offering a return and replacement policy for unused items allows online sex toy stores to compete with traditional stores in terms of ensuring customer satisfaction and confidence in their purchases.

This combination of virtual product visualization and flexible return options gives online stores a significant advantage in overcoming the limitations of being unable to physically inspect the products.

This comfort level offered by the online stores allows the customers to choose this particular type over the traditional stores to buy sex toys. Therefore, setting up online sex toy stores can be a great option.

3. Customer Support And Advice

Brick-and-mortar sex toy stores have staff to assist during the purchase. Online sex toy stores can have virtual assistants to help buyers purchase the right product.

Also, an excellent support team to assist post-purchase can improve the buyer’s purchase and stick to your online sex toy store.

Moreover, robust customer support and advisory teams can significantly enhance your adult sex toys marketing. It encourages users to discuss your online sex toy store, thereby contributing to positive reviews and increasing publicity.

Also, with the evolution of AI, setting up a virtual assistant is easy and cost-efficient for an online sex toy store. As the virtual assistant tends to learn from its past behavior, it will improve on its own and provide better customer service.

All these will push for greater customer satisfaction online, which again can benefit business people in setting up online sex toy stores.

4. Budget And Pricing

Setting up a brick-and-mortar sex toy store would be very expensive, as it involves a physical store and other costs to run that physical store. Operational costs like staff salary, electricity, inventory, etc., will be higher than those of online stores.

Whereas setting up an online sex toy store is much cheaper when compared to the traditional store. Most of the time, you have to pay a one-time fee to create an ecommerce website to set up your online sex toy store.

Also, you need to pay for domain, hosting and payment gateways to run your online sex toy store conveniently. Depending on your needs, you can pay this as a one-time fee or on a yearly basis. It will still be less than the cost of a traditional store.

Also, operational costs are lower for online sex toy stores, as fewer people are involved in managing them. The absence of an actual physical store minimizes the money spent.

Therefore, starting an online sex store would be more cost-effective regarding budgeting and pricing.

5. Time And Convenience

Setting up a physical sex toy store is more time-consuming in comparison to the online sex toy store. The time one would have to spend on setting up the store, choosing the right place, and building all amenities for the store would be significant.

Comparatively, developing an online store from scratch takes very little time and is very convenient. Setting up an online sex toy store is easy and time convenient, as there are plenty of ecommerce website software available.

With the possibility of developing an online sex toy store in a day or two, it is a no-brainer to choose an online sex toy store over a traditional one.

Given these considerations, setting up an online sex toy store is a compelling option for selling sex toys. With many buyers preferring the anonymity and privacy of online purchases, an online store provides a discreet shopping experience.

Online adult business owners make more money than brick-and-mortar store owners because of the diverse range of products and vast inventory.

Additionally, an online store offers the potential to reach a global market, unlike a brick-and-mortar store, which is typically limited to a local customer base. Therefore, choosing to operate an online sex toy store is likely the best decision.

Build An Online Sex Toy Store Using xMarketplace by

As we understand that online sex toy stores are better when compared to brick-and-mortar sex toy stores, now let us see how we can build one.

xMarketplace by is one of the best options available for business people to build and run an online sex toy store. This adult ecommerce website software helps users develop their sex toy store from scratch and without any difficulty.

xMarketplace Demo
xMarketplace by

Upload and sell your own products: In addition to dropshipping, you can also list your own products. xMarketplace accommodates both dropshipping and inventory-based eCommerce models to maximize your potential earnings.

International dropshipper API: xMarketplace comes equipped with international dropshipping APIs that provide access to a vast selection of over 20,000 products, all with the benefit of discreet shipping.

Reliable payment gateways: xMarketplace comes bundled with payment gateway integrations such as Verotel. Users also have the option to offer Cash on Delivery (COD) for applicable orders. Store owners have complete control over the payment options available in their online store.

With all these advantages, it makes sense to buy xMarketplace to build your online sex toy store and start selling sex toys.


Selling sex toys has become a highly profitable business in recent times. Given the numerous advantages of selling sex toys online, opting for this approach is an intelligent choice.

Setting up your own online store and starting to sell sex toys is a straightforward and hassle-free process. xMarketplace by is a robust and reliable software solution that can help you build and manage your online sex toy store effectively.

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