Sex has been a taboo for the time unknown. Although most Americans and Europeans have moved above all this, still there is no shortage of people who start judging you the time you enter a physical sex toy store. All this goes to indicate that the adult eCommerce business of selling sex toys online is definitely a way to encourage many people to order their toys and accessories without being harassed and judged.
However, the question is, “Would it be enough?” “Is starting a sex toy business online the same as starting any random eCommerce store? We can agree on partial terms, but not totally though. So, how to sell sex toys online while also avoiding the possible pitfalls at the same time?
For some of the operations, it is almost the same, but many other aspects differentiate these niched stores from general eCommerce sites. The factors may range from keeping a customer’s information private to eliminating the awkwardness in front of the delivery personnel.
If you are wondering how to start a sex toy business and sell sex accessories through an online store, this article is one central repository of everything you need to know. Let’s just jump into it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Online Sex Toy Business Trends and Demand
- 2 Is selling sex toys online legal?
- 3 Types of sex toys to sell on an adult eCommerce store
- 4 Sex Accessories
- 5 How to start an online sex toy store?
- 6 xMarketplace – Turnkey adult eCommerce website builder
- 7 How to Drive Traffic to your adult eCommerce site?
- 8 How to deliver sex toys to customers
- 9 Summing up
Online Sex Toy Business Trends and Demand
Starting a sex toy business is an integral part of the adult industry. An adult eCommerce store is a place where one can find every sexual stuff or erotica ranging from porn DVDs to adult magazines, books, sex toys, and other accessories for sex and pleasure.
However, in an online scenario, eCommerce websites that sell movies are not included in the adult store industry. They are porn tubes and video streaming services. However, those selling DVDs with other sex-related accessories are part of the adult eCommerce industry. So, if you are thinking about starting an adult eCommerce store for selling sex toys, you are closer to the adult store industry than the adult industry as a whole.
The sex toys industry has become a part of the mainstream retail industry for a long time now. Currently, it is a $15 billion industry, combining the eCommerce and physical retail business. The projections clearly postulate that the same would successfully surpass the market value of $50 billion by 2020.
Sex toys are becoming a fashion among adults. Thanks to the trilogy of “Fifty Shades of Grey”, the sale of sex toys and accessories featured in the movie rose by over 400% since then. I am certain that the majority of people were not even aware of such toys prior to seeing them in the movie.
Bottom line is, “sex toys business is on a boom and receiving much support from the mainstream media. You can guess the extent of their scope by the fact that some sex toys, such as this 7-inch vibrator sell for a million dollars. Indeed, there is substantial turnover in this niche, and it is wise to go digital for targeting exclusive benefits in terms of privacy and accessibility of buying these novelties from an adult eCommerce site. Starting an online sex toy business has some clear advantages that physical shops simply don’t.
Despite still being a taboo in the majority of regions, the sex toys market is booming, and people are buying them from any medium suitable and private enough. If you want to start a sex shop business, you can count on the fact that its demand will only increase in the imminent days.
Is selling sex toys online legal?
The business of selling erotic novelties and sex enhancement accessories is indeed an appealing niche for the entrepreneurs. Starting a sex toy business consists of two types of risks- One regarding supplies, delivery, and operations. While another is clearly related to the legal compliances and online adult content laws of different states and nations. As an entrepreneur, you must educate yourself about the legal factors involving the laws for:
- selling online products in a nation,
- starting an eCommerce website in a nation,
- starting an adult website in a nation,
- public display of adult content in a nation, and
- openly promoting and selling objectionable products in a nation.
Knowing these laws will help you in tweaking up your operations and eCommerce site smartly enough to comply with the legal regulations and reducing the risks.
So, how to start an online sex toy business, without breaking the laws and legal compliances?
It’s simple, know about the local laws of the regions, state, or nation where you are targeting your operations. Consider the following points for a better understanding-
1. Selling sex toys is a crime in some states
In the US itself, some states have criminalized the selling as well as possession of sex toys. While there are many regions in the US and the world where sex toys are legal, there are also those that impose various regulations on them. So make sure to ask your legal adviser about the same. You can legalize your business in many of the states by tweaking your operations.
2. Legal compliances on product packaging
Like we talked about tweaking your operations in the previous point, following the product packaging guidelines is one of the tweaks. There are many states where selling or possession is not banned, however, they impose certain regulations on the public display of the toys. There are certain packaging standards, which should be followed by every manufacturer and seller.
3. Laws for email marketing
Some states prohibit even the marketing of certain categories of products through email or any internet media. For example, they have guidelines for email headers, images used, the age of the recipient, the option for opt-out of email lists, and many more. Before utilizing email marketing, make sure to fine-tune your comprehension of the laws representing the regulations of the same. You don’t want to crush your business in the very beginning with the hassles of cybercrime laws.
4. Laws for using images and videos of someone
Many a time, online advertisers or eCommerce sites, use images and videos to promote their products. If you intend to do any such promotions, make sure that-
- You are authorized to use the particular image.
- You are considering the laws that protect public privacy on the internet.
Trust me, you don’t want to wire with these laws. Especially in European regions where the right to privacy and regulations for using information without permission is way too strict.
5. Laws for misrepresenting your merchandise
Some general eCommerce stores sell sex toys in the name of other products. For example, they showcase vibrators as body massagers or just give a partial description of the product on the site. They do so for any of the two reasons-
- To fool the authorities and sell banned products.
- To comply with the laws that regulate the public display of obscene material on the internet.
Never go for the first reason. Up to some extent, you might ask for advice from your legal consultant to comprehend how you can tweak your product listings to sell and comply with the legal guidelines at the same time. For example, don’t use nude images, obscene words, etc. in the product description. Also, make sure that users clearly understand what a particular product is all about.
6. Laws for design and materials used for manufacturing
This law applies to not only sex toys but also all sorts of products being sold in a state. Sell only the products manufactured with the regulated guidelines and allowed materials. For example, with sex toys, there is a risk of the user being exposed to toxic plastics. If the manufacturer is not complying with the manufacturing guidelines, the toxic plastic or harmful jelly can leach out through the skin, and enter the body. So, always sell certified products that have been manufactured by fowling the regulated guidelines of the regulatory bodies.
Please note: The information regarding laws in this article are based on individual research and merely mean for informational purpose. It does not represent legal advice nor does it comes from an established law expert. If you possess a question or seek advice on legal issues of how to start an online sex toy business without breaking the laws, you should contact a qualified lawyer.
Types of sex toys to sell on an adult eCommerce store
Sex toys are nothing but the unconventional medium to stimulate the sexual pleasures by letting you try out things that you normally don’t. With an experience mixed with hormonal stimulation, a sex toy lets you heighten your feelings by exciting the pleasure areas more efficiently so that you can achieve a satisfactory orgasm.
For those who consider sex not only a means to reproduce but also a way to lead a happy life, sex toys are perfect methods to make you and your partner always passionate about each other. There are many types of sex toys meant for an array of intentions. There are sex toys and accessories for women as well as men.
Let’s classify the sex toys into two major categories-
Used for stimulating the pleasure points
Both men and women have points in their body stimulating which gives them a pleasant sensation. Ultimately, this stimulation results in a satisfactory orgasm, making sex more of an art than a necessity. Sex toys used for pleasure point stimulation help both men and women enjoy heighten feelings mixed with regular satisfaction.
Types of pleasure point stimulators and accessories
- Clitoral vibrators
- G-Spot vibrators
- Rabbit vibrators
- Bullet vibrators
- Finger vibrators
- Wand massagers
- Hands-free vibrators
- Strap on dildos
- Vibrating Dildos
- Butt plugs
- Anal beads
- Prostate Massagers
- Penis Rings
Used for enhancing sex experiences
The products listed above are used for the physical stimulation of the pleasure points. However, the toys in the current category are used for stimulating overall hormonal and physical pleasure. Different individuals have their own preferences of experiencing sex. Some people fantasize about things, and these fantasies help them to stimulate their pleasure experience to the orgasmic level.
Preferences are crucial. In fact, there have been cases where some people don’t even get an erection if they don’t experience the preferred conditions while sex. For example, role-plays. With role-plays, couples can enjoy their fantasy to stimulate their pleasure experiences and influence the sex hormones.
For instances, some people get more pleasure in prostrate orgasms than the penal orgasm. Some people like BDSM sex over regular sex, while some consider sex as incomplete without an oral. Based on researches and surveys, sex toys companies have produced numerous products that help people to explore their sexuality and achieve full orgasm. Here are a few examples of the toys you can sell in this category-
- Roleplay costumes
- Feather Tickler
- Aphrodisiac oil
- Nipple clamp
- Mouth Gag
- Silicone Paddle
- Riding crop
Sex accessories can be anything used as a necessity, or for enhancing the typical sex experience. These products might not be used as a toy but play a crucial role in even a regular sexual encounter. For example, condoms are primarily a way to have protected sex. However, nowadays there are several types of condoms in the market. Here are a few other examples of the sex accessories you can sell when you start a sex toys business.
- Massage Oils
- Toy cleaners
- Masturbation sleeves
- Flavored condoms
- Silicon condoms
How to start an online sex toy store?
The options for creating an adult eCommerce website for selling sex toys are exactly the same as any general eCommerce web-shop. You have three options-
- Subscribe to a SaaS-based website builder
- Create your own self-hosted website from scratch
- Purchase a turnkey self-hosted script
There are various SaaS-based eCommerce website builders that offer instant setup and let you upload and sell your products on the go. You can subscribe to any of the popular website builders. You will get the following features and advantages with a SaaS-based website builder-
- Instant website setup within hours
- Instant product upload
- Integrated payment gateways
- Integrated shipping options
- An array of in-built website themes
- Regular security updates from the vendor
However, there are few cons to this option. These website builders are generally made for mainstream eCommerce websites. In fact, most of them lack even the basic features required by a typical sex toy shop. For example, customer privacy protection while product delivery. A few of the other drawbacks you could face are as follows:
- Limited features
- Website customization not allowed
- Closed source code
- Monthly recurring rentals
- Limited payment gateways to choose from
- Limited server space
- Heightened price of cloud hosting
- Poor scalability
- Might not support adult payment gateways
- Not optimized for Adult SEO
The next best option is to create your own website from scratch and host it on your preferred server. About that! Would you really prefer doing this? I mean, would you consider spending a fortune on maintaining a dedicated in-house tech team, and the cost of re-inventing the wheel?
Why would you want to spend your time and money on re-developing something that has already been developed? Here comes the third option- A readymade or turnkey script. You can always use this option to mix the benefits of option 1 and option 2 and avoid the drawbacks of each.
A turnkey eCommerce script is a readymade website builder that can be hosted on the server of your choice. Moreover, it would also offer you an unencrypted source code, allowing all sorts of customizability in the code. Here are a few other benefits of using a turnkey script-
- A ready-made website
- Integrated payment gateways
- Quick website setup
- Support for any new customization
- Option to host on your preferred server
- Higher scalability
- SEO friendly website structure for the adult industry
- No recurring charges
- Regular security updates
xMarketplace – Turnkey adult eCommerce website builder
xMarketplace is a turnkey adult eCommerce website builder with a readymade script to set up your webshop in a few hours. The script comes preloaded with a Dropshipping API, which has access to over 70,000+ sex toys and products in wholesale. It’s a perfect answer to the question, how to start an online adult store without writing a single line of code by yourself.
What can you do with xMarketplace?
- Create your own sex toys eCommerce website.
- Upload your own products and sell from your own inventory.
- Else, you can use the integrated drop shipping API to sell products from our wholesaler.
- The drop shipper will manage the inventory and handle the shipping too.
- You will earn the commissions on each product sold through your website.
- You can:
- customize your website’s look and feel,
- customize, edit, update, add, remove, any number of product categories,
- host your website on the server of your choice, and
- customize the codes to do any modifications.
- Select your own revenue models such as :
- Drop shipping products
- Banner advertisements
- Amazon affiliate integration
- Subscription system integration
- Adult toy affiliate programs
- Integrate ready-made add-ons for your adult toy store:
- Buyer / Seller chat module
- Geolocation filter and availability
- Custom theme design
- Bitcoin integration
- Additional adult Payment gateway integration like CCBill, ePoch, etc.
What is dropshipping API in xMarketplace?
Drop shipping is a method of delivering a product directly from the manufacturer to the retailer without going through the intermediate channels. This model of eCommerce is extremely useful for sex toys business where there are a few good manufacturers and also there is a need for privacy.
xMarketplace comes with a ready-made drop shipping API integrated to offer access to thousands of sex toys ready to be sold on the go. This API is from one of the most popular drop-shippers in the adult store industry and has already been selling products globally for a long time. You can choose to sell the products from the drop-shipper and earn commission and can also sell your own products if you want to. With xMarketplace, you have unlimited ways to make money through an adult eCommerce business.
This is how a typical dropshipping process takes place in adult store industry-:
- Customer places an order on your sex toys store and pays you the money
- You receive the order.
- You place an order on your drop shipper’s site or use our API to automatically place an order with the drop shipper.
- The drop shipper dispatches the product directly to the customer with your brand’s logo and packaging
- Packaging and delivery are taken care of by the drop shipper itself.
How to Drive Traffic to your adult eCommerce site?
Driving traffic to a general eCommerce site has already been a great concern, and even stressful is getting visitors for an adult eCommerce store. While some of the ways to drive internet traffic are similar to a general eCommerce store, there are also additional ways to drive adult traffic exclusively.
There are five sources and ways to drive traffic to your sex toys business website. We will see them in detail-
1. Referrals through adult forums
Forums have always been the favorites of SEO professionals for getting quality traffic and leads. There is a likewise situation with adult forums as well.
- Become active in well-known adult forums
- Engage in discussions, answer the questions
- Gradually make your profile a well-known name on the forum
- Once you have good credit, your profile will soar up
- People would start paying attention to your words
- This is where you can strategically bundle your business with your answers
Caution: Don’t just ride along with any forum. Make sure it is relevant and adult.
How to find a relevant forum?
- You can Google about adult forums and adult sex toys forum.
- Check their score on Alexa ranking to get an idea of the forum’s quality.
- Check their guidelines; most of the quality forums would have strict guidelines.
Note: Tumblr, Stumbleupon, and Reddit are some great sources for getting quality traffic from forums if you know how to use them wisely.
Social media platforms generally do not allow adult content. However, people are still tweaking things to use these platforms for promoting their adult business. For example, you can use Twitter hashtags to smartly filter the Tweets relevant to your business. You can use the same hashtags to make your Tweets visible among the relevant audiences. Nowadays, when memes are getting viral so easily, I don’t have to tell you how you can use these mediums for your gain. If not direct, an indirect promotion would indeed help you to get traffic and popularity through social media sites.
3. Paid traffic through adult Ad networks
You cannot use the traditional Google or Bing Ads to promote sex toys. However, there are two ways to promote your adult eCommerce site in such situations-
- Tweak your product descriptions, landing pages, images, and product visuals so that they don’t appear to be adult but people understand them with just a look at the Ads. In this way, you can use Google and Bing Ads to promote adult sex toys.
- Use Adult Ad Networks specially designed for promoting adult content and products. These networks mainly target users on adult websites. Most of these Adult Ad networks are regional. Hence, you might have to run multiple Ads in multiple regions at the same time, depending on your target regions.
4. Organic traffic through Adult SEO
There is nothing like adult SEO in reality. However, SEO itself means getting quality traffic from quality sources. And quality traffic for an adult website would be the traffic from adults only. That is why Adult SEO is used as a coherent term. Just perform whatever is required by a general website to get indexed and ranked in SERPs –
- Make your website SEO friendly with Meta Tags, Meta descriptions, and keywords
- Optimize its pages for mobile viewing
- Make it load faster
- Do content marketing
- Guest Post on the adult blogs
- Maintain your own blog
- Check the backlinks
- Devalue bad links
- Fix broken links
- Keep up with the search engine guidelines
- Avoid duplicate content
- Avoid plagiarism
5. Traffic through a traditional promotion
Be it a generic or adult brand, no one can survive the market without consistent brand awareness and promotion to appeal the target audience. Your brand identity decides the course of movement towards building a profitable business.
You can use the following traditional methods to boost your brand awareness and create an identity among the target audience for sex toys and sex accessories-
- Place Ads in print (newspapers and Adult magazines) as well as digital media
- Sponsor relevant events
- Leverage social media promotion
- Place billboards in strategic locations (if allowed in the region)
- Distribute templates and leaflets in relevant locations
- Contact influencers and related professionals like sales adult bloggers, porn stars, LGBT communities, entrepreneurs, celebrities, public figures, video bloggers etc.
- List your products in local directories and adult classified pages
- Promote offers and discounts on print and digital media
- Make explainer videos, documentaries, or myth buster videos related to sex toys
Quora is one such platform where actual people not only ask questions but also help other people by sharing their knowledge and expertise. You can always find reliable answers to most of the doubts and queries you might possess about how to sell sex toys online, too. I suggest you should make full use of this platform and learn from the expertise and experiences of the people who have done what you have been looking to do in the adult eCommerce industry. Besides, the platform gives genuine exposure to your brand by connecting you with the people who have an interest in the products and services you are selling.
7. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been in the business ecosystem from the time unknown. The only difference is it has grown into an even bigger entity with internet-based influencers joining the league. Brands are collaborating with social media influencers to spread their messages in a way consumers trust the most. For example, when a popular webcam girl uses your sex toys in her live streams, it propagates a positive communication about the quality and value of your product. In the same way, these influences can also promote affiliate links to your sex toys store for purchasing these products.
Traditional promotion is still a major source of traffic when it comes to adult store industry.
How to deliver sex toys to customers
Online sex toys businesses offer great anonymity and convenience to their customers. Before knowing how to start a sex shop business, they learn how to pack a sex toy properly. This is the only reason why online sex toys shops are becoming more popular than physical stores. You must remember that shattering this anonymity will only lead to harm for your online sex toys business.
Hence, considering the following aspects of product packaging and delivery ethics is must to know-
- Choose a supplier who is willing to follow your product packaging guidelines.
- Don’t choose a drop shipper not willing to impose your branding on the courier packaging.
- Don’t use adult images on the courier packaging.
- Don’t impose any sex toys indication graphics on the courier packaging (images, names, etc.)
- Keep the packaging content anonymous from the delivery person.
Check out how these particular products are anonymous in beautiful packaging-
About courier packaging, you can always be discreet about it. For example, Sex toys from Amazon come in the same packaging that general products do. Delivery guys never know what you’re getting unless they open the courier box, which is they’re strictly not allowed to do. Something like this –
Note: Don’t forget to create a separate landing page talking about your discreet packaging standards. Explain how you manage your customer’s privacy through anonymous product and courier packaging. It gives a boost to their confidence in your sex toys store. Something like how this sex shop business has done with its website –
I hope you now have a clear idea about how to start an online adult store and how to sell sex toys online. Starting a sex toy business is not an impossible nut to crack. Even easier is making a sale of at least $10,000 a month. With all that mentioned in this article, you can always shape a profitable business. For instance, consider these numbers-
Sex toys can cost as little as $50 or go over million dollars, too. In fact, the world’s most expensive sex toy comes for about $1.3 million. Though cheaper sex toys are also available, one cannot be sure of their quality and safety of usage. When things are related to pleasure, hygiene and health safety, nobody likes to compromise. That’s why people don’t hesitate while paying decent amounts for high-quality sex toys.
Say, you are selling some good quality sex toys that would come for a minimum of $50 per item. Even if you are selling 6-8 toys in a day, you would make 30×400 in a month. Considering the ups and downs in the demand on a typical day, you would easily make $10,000 in a month.
These are just the cheapest sex toys. Think about the average to the highly expensive range, where even a single toy can get you more than $10,000. There is no limit to the variety and range of products that can satisfy sexual needs.
This Golden Tickler accessory is sold for $4,506.
Image Credit: Pinterest
This Tally Ho Chair used in Fifty Shades of Grey movie is sold for $14,000.
Image credit: Twitter
And this Lelo Yva Vibrator is sold on Amazon for $3,990.
Image credit: Amazon
Same as any other product, customers know that they get what they pay for. A large number of factors contribute to the pricing of sex toys. At different price points, different materials, and different features, people pay fortunes for buying good products. If you’re ready to invest in a high-quality product, your earnings can go way higher than just $10,000 a month. So, buckle up and start a sex shop business today.
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