This is my part of a 5 person panel that was presented at ANE. The topic was upselling in a sex positive way and my focus, since I work for an online retailer, was selling sexual health products online. This is only what I wrote, not what I said. I tend to ad lib a bit, but this is the bones.
Upselling body healthy luxury toys, in general, tends to be much easier in a brick and mortar store. When you have sales people interacting with your customers you have the edge. It becomes a lot more difficult in e-commerce because if your customer comes to your site looking for a giant blue jelly dong that’s most likely what they’re going to leave with.
But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have options. There are four areas that you can focus on to help upsell in a sex positive way through your e-commerce store:
- Reputation and branding
- Education and Customer service
- Cross selling
If you are known for selling high end toys that is what you will sell. If you are known for selling cheap jelly toys that is what people will expect from you. Your brand – the image you project and the demographic you attract with that image will dictate what you can and cannot sell. This is influenced by everything from the images and copy you choose to display on your website to how you interact through social media. Watch closely how you talk about sex, people’s bodies, and the products you’re selling. You can’t use the same kind of language to sell a 12 inch dong as you do for a $200 luxury vibrator.
If you’re not currently projecting the image of a store where customers will come for luxury sex toys you should know that you can change your image, but only if you’re willing to put in the work to make that happen. As sex toys become accepted in the mainstream more and more customers are becoming more educated and are choosing to shop with companies that reflect their views of sex toys as normal and healthy. If you speak about the toys you’re selling in a misogynistic or degrading way you will turn off many of your higher end customers.
So how do you create a brand that’s good for selling luxury products? Educate your customers. Dedicating your site to sexual education shows that you care about your customers. You see them as more than dollar signs. You have a vested interest in their sexual health. Tell them what products are made of and what the pros and cons are of those materials. Point them towards the products that are more body healthy. There are numerous ways of doing this including creating a materials and ingredients page that product pages hyperlink to, making product videos (or using videos made by the manufacturers) to highlight the body healthy toys, creating a body healthy toys and lube category that is easy to find on your homepage and can easily be linked to by your affiliates, if you have bloggers writing
reviews for you encourage them to also write a short review on the product page, include staff reviews and picks, and offer easily accessible customer service with a representative who is knowledgeable. Just because you are online doesn’t mean you can’t interact with your customers. Offer instant messaging and make your 800 number visible on every page.
Education is important and you will change some people’s minds and teach them how to better take care of their bodies, but sometimes people just want a cheap blue jelly dong and if you don’t sell it they’ll get it somewhere else. This is why it’s so important to offer variety to your customers.
Make it very known which products are safer than others, but leave the decision making up to your customers. You’ve informed them, now let them make their choice. For truly dangerous products like anal desensitizers this may not be the best option, but a jelly toy that is packed full of phthalates and BPA doesn’t have to be harmful if your customers use a barrier to protect themselves. But you have to inform them that this is the best option.
That’s why cross selling is so important. Not everyone can afford a $100 100% pure medical grade silicone dildo and to presume to know what’s best for your customer is patronizing them. If they can’t afford it, they can’t afford it. It doesn’t matter that that dildo will last them a lifetime unless you can offer them monthly installment plans. But they can afford to buy a $20 dildo and put a condom on it every time they use it. Yes, this will cost them more money in the long run, but they shouldn’t have to choose between food and a dildo. The same goes for people who are inexperienced. If you’re just learning to cook you don’t go out and buy the pots and pans of professionals because they’re too expensive. Yes, your food might taste better coming out of those professional pans and they might last 20 years, but if you’re not even sure you like cooking you’re going to opt to buy the $20 set from Target. The same goes for sex toys. Most people aren’t going to drop $100 on their first sex toy and you shouldn’t push them into it. Instead educate them on what options are available in their price range. There are many body healthy options made from ABS plastic that are much more affordable or they can always use a barrier between their sex toys and them. Making your customer happy is more important than upselling because that college student who can only afford the $20 dildo is more likely to come back when they have more money because they had a good experience with you. By being honest with your customers and selling to them based off of their interests instead of their insecurities they will feel safer buying from you and you will create loyalty.