How To Run A Sex Toy Shop
It’s been nearly a year since I started at Lovehoney, and I’ve got to say I’ve learnt an awful lot in that time. Lovehoney was quite a departure for me (having previous worked selling frozen food to the elderly) and admittedly, at first I was reticent. However now I can’t imagine a better place to work.
Yesterday’s programme Undercover Boss was somewhat disappointing then, seeing how the UK’s biggest high-street adult store (Lovehoney remains the most popular place to buy sex toys on the internet!), Ann Summers was run.
Jacqueline Gold has done a marvellous job bringing sex toys to the public, and for making buying them easier, replicating the success of the true pioneer in this field, Beate Uhse-Rotermund.
Seeing the MD, Vanessa Gold, afraid and embarrassed to talk about sex toys with their customers was disconcerting. How can the public be confident buying sex toys on the high street if the shop they wish to buy from isn’t?
With this in mind, I though I’d make a few pointers about what makes Lovehoney so successful, and what I’ve learnt in the last year.
1. Spend time with customer service
Vanessa had the right idea in mind when visiting a store. Your frontline staff is your voice, and it’s important to understand what that voice is, and the sorts of questions that are answered. Lovehoney's customer service is pretty legendary, it’s what the company was built around, and we always strive to “go the extra inch” to help customers.
In my first week here I sat with customer service, listening in on calls, to quickly educate myself on the issues that customers had. It was an eye-opening experience and I’m glad I did it in my first week. Lovehoney customers vary from those who need advice choosing a product, to those who know exactly what they want and need more specific information. Measuring the “sperm stopping sphere” on a male chastity device was not how I’d pictured my first morning on the job (and having seen the product, I’d want to know how big this sphere is too).
At Lovehoney, we want to give everyone the best advice on how to have a fulfilling sex life, which you can’t do if you’re nervous, giggling or hiding behind a counter.
2. Don’t be afraid of what you sell
Which brings me to the range of products that Lovehoney sells. At Lovehoney we’ve made a conscious decision to stock a wide range of products, from the most innocent gifts like the “I Rub My Duckie” massager to Medical Fetish devices. If you’re into it, and it doesn’t hurt anyone else (unless they want it to!) then we’re going to support you and be the best place to get advice.
So, we have to be comfortable with everything. It does take a bit of getting used to. Sometimes there’s a bit of "oh my, what is that?" (often several times if you walk down our infamous Aisle A) but then you realize that the product exists because someone’s into it, so well done him or her for coming to Lovehoney and finding it.
3. Everyone’s into something
So, you quickly understand that everyone’s into something. If you’re not already a customer of Lovehoney, most likely someone on your street is.
And because everyone’s into something, you shouldn't be surprised when they ask about it. Sex toys may be used behind closed doors, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the only place they can be talked about. Where Lovehoney differs from Ann Summers is that we don’t think sex should be talked about in hushed whispers, nudge-nudge, wink-wink style. We even have a whole forum where people openly discuss what they're into.
We also don’t think that sex toys should be only acceptable for women to buy, and it’s a shame that the Ann Summers business proposition, after all this time, still ostracizes men.
4. But everyone needs help
This is important, as both men and women are looking for a better sex life! People who buy sex toys are more likely to be satisfied with their sex life, so limiting sexual satisfaction to just half the population isn’t on. We still see a huge stigma attached to men buying sex toys, and it’s something we’re working hard to address.
5. A nudge in the right direction is good enough
Not everyone wants to buy a sex toy straight away, and that’s fine. The single easiest way to improve your sex life is to use lube. From the old KY Jelly (very interesting story I heard about KY, but I’ll leave that for later) to the Durex Play range, to lubes that double as massage lotions. Adding lube to your love life is the one first step I’d recommend to everyone. This is why we make such a big deal about it. In fact, it’s the focus of our homepage (when we’re not having a sale).
6. Being sexy doesn’t mean being cheap
It’s pretty endemic in the adult industry that to be sexy you have to feel cheap. Not everyone equates being sexy with looking like you’ve just clocked off at Spearmint Rhino. Sure, that’s a fantasy that appeals to a lot of men but there are other types of sexy.
7. Funny is good, serious is better
No-one likes to think of their sex life as a joke. So whilst we approach what we sell with a sense of humour (see our Royal Wedding Cock Ring for an example of this), when it gets to the details, we’re straight to business. Respect your customers and feel proud about what you sell.
Hopefully I’ve given you a little insight into how we tick here at Lovehoney, and how hopefully we go one step better than Ms Summers, bring sexual happiness to more and more people, and make talking about sex toys open, acceptable and a part of everyone’s sex life.