Create your own ecommerce website and start selling successfully with ShopWired today

Create your ecommerce website on ShopWired today.
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Create your own ecommerce website and start selling successfully with ShopWired today

Create your ecommerce website on ShopWired today.
Start today with 14 days free

How To Sell Sex Toys Online

26th March 2024

Sex Toys

The sex toy market was worth a staggering $40.6 billion dollars in 2023, a figure that’s expected to grow to $80.7 billion in 2030. 

If you’re considering tapping into this lucrative industry, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about selling sex toys online. From setting up a website and creating a brand to sourcing the best products and marketing them to your audience. 

Understanding The Sex Toy Market

close up of sex toys on bed

The sex toy industry, once niche and somewhat taboo, has blossomed into a vibrant market fueled by an increasing focus on wellness, inclusivity and an openness towards human sexuality. 

Although the sex toy market is huge, it is also competitive. A quick search online will reveal just how many brands are selling sex toys. Part of finding success will be working out how you fit into this market. 

Let’s look at some entry methods and their unique challenges and benefits:

    1.    Dropshipping Sex Toys

Dropshipping is a popular entry point due to its low initial investment and ease of setup. You can start selling products without holding inventory as items are shipped directly from the supplier to the customer. While this model offers simplicity and flexibility, it also places you in a highly competitive field where differentiating your brand can be challenging. The key to success with dropshipping lies in exceptional marketing, customer service and finding unique sex toy products that aren’t widely available through every dropshipper.

    2.    White Labeling Sex Toys

White labelling allows you to sell products manufactured by others under your own brand name. This method offers more control over branding and pricing than dropshipping. By choosing high-quality items and packaging them with your unique brand, you can create an identity in the sex toy market. However, white labelling requires more upfront investment in product branding and typically requires minimum order quantities with suppliers. 

    3.    Creating Your Own Sex Toy Products

For those looking to fully differentiate their brand, creating your own sex toy products is the way to go. This option requires significant investment in research, design and manufacturing. However, it offers the highest level of brand control and product uniqueness. You’ll need to navigate manufacturing challenges and ensure compliance with safety standards, but the potential to build a successful brand with loyal customers and high margins is substantial.

    4.    Curating a Specialty Selection of Sex Toys

Another approach is curating a selection of products focused on a specific niche or theme. This could involve catering to certain lifestyles, interests or underserved communities within the broader sex toy market. By becoming a specialist retailer, you can attract a dedicated customer base looking for something a bit more niche.

Each of these strategies comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Whether you’re leaning towards the ease of dropshipping, the brand control of white labelling, the uniqueness of creating your own products, or the specialisation of curating a niche selection, understanding your market fit is a crucial first step in creating a successful sex toy business. 

Before thinking about online sex toy sales, you’ll need to consider the legal landscape. Laws on selling sex toys vary significantly by location, so you'll need to learn about the laws in your location. If you're looking to branch out internationally, you’ll also need to consider the different laws in different countries and what they mean for your sex toy ecommerce business. 

In the UK, there are no restrictions on selling sex toys online. The only requirement is that you must ensure your products are sold to individuals over the age of 18. This necessitates implementing an effective age verification process on your website to comply with these regulations. You'll also need to ensure that your chosen payment processors permit the sale of sex toys. 

In the US, the situation is more complex as laws can vary from state to state. It’s important to do your research and possibly even consult with a legal expert to navigate these varying regulations effectively and ensure your business operates within legal boundaries.

If you’re selling internationally, selling sex toys across borders introduces another layer of legal complexity. Different countries have their own customs regulations regarding adult products, and it’s not uncommon for items to be held or even confiscated if they do not meet a country’s import criteria. Understanding these international laws is vital to avoid costly disruptions and ensure a smooth delivery process for your customers.

Taking the time to thoroughly research and understand these legal considerations is essential for running a successful online sex toy business without running into legal issues. 

How To Set Up An Online Business To Start Selling Sex Toys

1. Create Your Brand

Building a brand

Creating your brand is the first and most crucial step in setting up your online sex toy business. Your brand is not just a logo or a name; it represents your values, your mission and the experience you want to offer your customers. It’s your chance to create an identity that resonates with your target audience and stands out in a competitive market.

        Define Your Brand Personality: Decide how you want your brand to be perceived. Should it be playful and fun? Luxurious and exclusive? Inclusive and educational? Your brand’s personality will guide your marketing efforts and sales strategies.

        Choose a Name and LogoYour brand name and logo should be memorable and reflect the personality and tone of your brand. They will be the first things potential customers notice, so make sure they make a good impression.

        Develop Your Brand StoryHaving a brand story is a powerful tool that can connect you with your customers on an emotional level. Share why you started your business, the values that guide you and what makes your brand unique.

        Establish Your Visual IdentityBeyond the logo, your brand’s visual identity includes your colour scheme, typography and overall aesthetic. These elements should be consistent across all your platforms and marketing materials to build brand recognition.

Creating a strong brand is essential for building trust with your customers and establishing a loyal customer base. Take the time to carefully craft your brand identity, as it will be the foundation of your business’s success.

2. Decide How You Will Source Your Products

Seller sending packaged product

Once your brand identity is established, the next step is determining how you will source your sex toy products. This decision significantly impacts your inventory requirements, pricing strategy and branding direction. Here are the main sourcing options to consider:

        Dropshipping: Dropshipping is a low-risk way to start as it minimises upfront investments. However, this method gives you less control over shipping times, product quality and uniqueness. 

        Wholesale: Buying products in bulk from wholesalers can lead to better profit margins due to lower per-item costs. This method requires upfront investment and storage space for inventory but offers more control over your product line and shipping processes.

        Manufacturing Your Own Products: For those aiming to offer unique products, manufacturing your own sex toys is the way to go. This route requires the most investment in terms of time, research and finances but allows for complete control over product design, quality and branding.

        White Labeling: This involves purchasing generic products from a manufacturer and branding them as your own. White labelling allows for brand consistency and control over pricing while avoiding the complexities of product design and manufacturing.

Each sourcing method has its benefits and challenges, so it's essential to evaluate them in the context of your brand values, target market and budget. Consider factors like product quality, ethical manufacturing practices and the ability to scale your business when making your decision.

3. Choose a Platform and Build Your Website

ShopWired Logo

Selecting the right ecommerce platform is crucial for the success of your online sex toy business. Your platform will serve as the backbone of your business, so it's important to choose one that aligns with your business needs, budget and technical skills.

        Evaluate Your Needs: Consider the features you need, such as age verification tools, customisable design options, and integration capabilities with payment processors that accept transactions for adult products.

        Research Ecommerce Platforms: When it comes to building your website, numerous ecommerce platforms are available. However, for selling sex toys online, ShopWired stands out as the perfect choice. It offers a full suite of tools and settings for creating a branded ecommerce store that not only looks professional but is reliable and secure. 

        Design Your Website: Once you've chosen your platform, start designing your website. Keep the design clean, user-friendly and aligned with your brand identity. Ensure that product categories are easily navigable, and include detailed product descriptions, high-quality images and clear calls to action. If you’re using an ecommerce platform like ShopWired, you can browse through the array of available themes to find one that matches the aesthetic and vibe of your brand. You can either choose this theme or further customise it to your preferences. 

        Implement Age Verification: Given the nature of your products, incorporating an effective age verification system on your website is a must to ensure compliance with legal requirements and to promote responsible consumption of adult products. ShopWired has an age-verification popup feature that can be displayed to website visitors when they visit your website. Users will be required to confirm their age (that they are 18 or over) each time they visit your website.

        Set Up Payment Processing: Secure a payment processor that accepts transactions from the adult industry. 

4. Market Your Brand and Sex Toys

Marketing plan on notepad

Marketing your online sex toy business is essential for attracting customers and building a loyal following. Given the sensitive nature of your products, your marketing strategies should be thoughtful, inclusive, and respect privacy. Here are some effective ways to promote your brand and products:

        Content Marketing: Create valuable and educational content related to sexual wellness and pleasure. Blog posts, how-to guides and product reviews can position your brand as a trusted authority in the industry. Ensure your content is SEO-optimised to improve visibility on search engines.

        Social Media Marketing: Use social media platforms to engage with your audience and build a community. Due to advertising restrictions on adult products, focus on creating shareable content that emphasises wellness, inclusivity and education rather than direct product promotion. 

        Email Marketing: Build an email list by offering subscribers exclusive content, discounts or early access to new products. Personalise your emails to enhance engagement and use this channel to keep your audience informed about the latest products and promotions.

        Influencer Partnerships: Partner with influencers who align with your brand's values and have an engaged audience. Influencer endorsements can increase brand visibility and credibility among potential customers.

        Paid Advertising: Explore advertising platforms that allow adult products, such as certain adult content sites or specialised networks. Ensure your ads are tasteful and comply with platform guidelines.

Remember, building a strong brand presence takes time. Consistency, authenticity and a focus on providing value to your customers are key to creating lasting relationships and driving sales. Tailor your marketing efforts to highlight the unique aspects of your brand and products, and always prioritise customer privacy and discretion in your campaigns.

5. Consider Multichannel Sales

Multichannel sales

Expanding your online sex toy business across multiple sales channels can significantly increase your reach and sales potential. Multichannel sales involve selling your products across various online platforms, not just your standalone ecommerce site. Here’s why and how you should consider this strategy:

        Marketplaces: Selling on established online marketplaces can put your products in front of a larger audience. Platforms like eBay and Etsy have sections for adult products, but be sure to check their specific guidelines to ensure compliance. ShopWired integrates directly with eBay and Etsy, giving you full control of all channels directly from your ShopWired account. 

        Social Commerce: With the rise of shopping features on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, consider integrating your ShopWired store with these channels. It allows customers to discover and purchase your products directly through social media, creating a seamless shopping experience.

        Comparison Shopping Engines: Listing your products on comparison shopping engines can help attract customers looking for the best deals on sex toys. This can be a great way to drive traffic to your site and compete on price and quality.

When venturing into multichannel sales, maintain consistency in your branding and product information across all channels. Multichannel sales can diversify your revenue streams and increase your brand’s visibility, making it a worthwhile strategy for growing your online sex toy business.

6. Implement Analytics

Website Analytics on laptop and mobile phone

To truly understand the success of your online sex toy store and make informed decisions, implementing analytics is crucial. Analytics tools can provide you with detailed insights into your website traffic, customer behaviour, sales trends and much more. 

Here’s how to leverage analytics for your business:

        Set Up Ecommerce Tracking: Use tools like Google Analytics to set up ecommerce tracking on your website. This will allow you to see detailed information about customer transactions, including which products are selling well, average order values and conversion rates.

        Monitor Customer Behaviour: Analytics can show you how customers interact with your website. Look for data on the most visited pages, the journey customers take through your site and where you might be losing potential sales. This information is invaluable for optimising your site layout and content to improve the customer experience and increase conversions.

        Track Marketing Campaigns: Analyse the performance of your marketing efforts by tracking metrics such as click-through rates, engagement, and conversion rates from different channels. This will help you understand which marketing strategies are most effective for your brand and where to allocate your budget.

        Understand Your Audience: Analytics can also provide demographic information about your customers, such as age, gender, location and interests. Use this data to tailor your marketing messages and product offerings to better meet the needs of your target audience.

        Make Data-Driven Decisions: Armed with analytics data, you can make informed decisions about every aspect of your business, from product selection and pricing strategies to marketing tactics and website design.

Remember, the goal of implementing analytics is not just to collect data, but to use that data to make strategic improvements that drive growth and enhance your customers' shopping experience. Start with a focus on key metrics that align with your business goals, and regularly review your analytics to stay responsive to trends and opportunities in the market.

7. Optimise for Mobile Shoppers

In today’s digital age, a significant portion of online shopping is done through mobile devices. Optimising your sex toy ecommerce store for mobile shoppers is not just a nice-to-have; it's essential. Here’s how you can ensure your online store caters effectively to the mobile audience:

        Responsive Design: Ensure your website design is responsive, meaning it automatically adjusts to fit the screen size of any device, from desktop computers to smartphones and tablets. This ensures a seamless shopping experience for all visitors, regardless of how they access your site. All of ShopWired’s themes are responsive, and all are available for free. 

        Fast Loading Times: Mobile users expect quick access to information and products. Optimise your website’s loading times by compressing images and using mobile-friendly themes to keep potential customers from bouncing off your site.

        Easy Navigation: Simplify your site’s navigation for mobile users. This includes having a clear menu, easily accessible search bar and filter options to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for with minimal taps.

        Mobile Payment Options: Incorporate a variety of mobile-friendly payment options. The checkout process should be straightforward, with the option to save payment information for future purchases, making it faster and more convenient for mobile shoppers.

        Test and Iterate: Regularly test your website’s mobile performance using a tool like PageSpeed Insights and seek feedback from mobile users. This ongoing process will help you identify and fix any issues, ensuring your mobile site remains effective and user-friendly.

By prioritising mobile optimisation, you not only meet the expectations of a growing segment of online shoppers but also enhance your store’s overall performance and customer satisfaction.

Choose ShopWired for Your Sex Toy Business

ShopWired Logo

When it comes to launching and managing your online sex toy store, the choice of ecommerce platform can make all the difference. Of course, we would always recommend ShopWired, but here are some reasons why ShopWired is a good fit for an ecommerce business selling sex toys:

Specialised Features 

ShopWired age verification process

ShopWired offers a range of features tailored to the adult industry, including age verification prompts and secure payment processing options that are compliant with industry standards.

Full Suite of Ecommerce Features on All Price Plans

ShopWired Pricing

ShopWired's comprehensive ecommerce features are available on all pricing tiers. Each feature is designed to streamline operations and give you full control over all aspects of your business. 

Free, Customisable Themes

ShopWired themes

With ShopWired, you can choose from a variety of customisable themes that are not only visually appealing but also optimised for performance and mobile shopping. This allows you to create a unique brand presence that captures your audience’s attention. All ShopWired themes are completely free to use. 

Reliable Hosting and Security 

Understanding the importance of reliability and security, ShopWired provides robust hosting with 99.99% uptime guaranteed and advanced security measures to protect both your business and your customers' data.

Top-Rated Support 

ShopWired’s knowledgeable support team is on hand to assist you with any queries or challenges you may encounter, from setup and customisation. Our top-rated support is one of the reasons ShopWired scores so highly on review websites like Trustpilot

ShopWired Trustpilot rating

Marketing and SEO Tools

With built-in marketing and SEO tools, ShopWired helps you attract more visitors to your store and convert them into customers. Whether it’s through optimising your site for search engines or leveraging email marketing campaigns, ShopWired has you covered.

Choosing ShopWired as your ecommerce platform means partnering with a provider that understands the unique challenges and opportunities of the sex toy industry. With a combination of specialised features, unlimited customisation and dedicated support, ShopWired is the ideal choice for entrepreneurs looking to make a mark in this lucrative market.

Multichannel Sales

ShopWired connects effortlessly to eBay and Etsy, making it easy to expand your sex toy business across multiple sales channels

Multiple Payment Options

ShopWired payment gateways

Offer customers a wide array of payment methods with ShopWired's numerous payment gateway integrations. You'll need to check each payment processor's terms to ensure they permit sales involving adult-related items. 

Conclusion: Is Selling Sex Toys Online Worth It?

With the sex toy industry set to double in value by 2030, the potential for growth and profit is huge. However, success in this space depends on your products, brand development, legal compliance, customer experience and marketing strategies.

From selecting the right entry strategy, be it dropshipping, white labelling, creating your own products or curating a niche selection, to establishing a brand that resonates with your target audience, every decision plays a crucial role in differentiating your business in a competitive market. 

Hopefully, this guide has outlined everything you need to know about selling sex toys online. By following the steps above, and by using a dedicated ecommerce platform like ShopWired, you can venture into the online sex toy business with great success. 

Want to try ShopWired for free? Sign up for a 14-day trial here

FAQ: Starting an Online Sex Toy Business

1. Is it legal to sell sex toys online?

Yes, it's legal to sell sex toys online in many countries, but laws vary by location. It's important to research and comply with the legal requirements in your area and any international markets you plan to enter, including age restrictions and customs regulations.

2. How much initial investment is needed to start a sex toy business?

The initial investment can vary widely depending on your business model. Dropshipping may require minimal upfront costs, whereas manufacturing your own products or buying inventory wholesale will necessitate a larger financial commitment for product development, inventory and branding.

3. Can I sell sex toys on any ecommerce platform?

Not all ecommerce platforms are friendly to adult content or products. Choose a platform like ShopWired, which offers specific features tailored for the adult industry, including age verification prompts and secure payment processing with payment processors that permit the sale of sex toys. 

4. How do I source products for my online sex toy store?

You can source products through dropshipping, wholesale purchasing, white labelling or manufacturing your own items. Each method has its pros and cons, related to control over branding, costs and inventory management. 

5. What are the key considerations in branding my sex toy business?

Your brand should resonate with your target audience, reflecting values and a personality that aligns with customer expectations. Consider inclusivity, wellness and pleasure as central themes. A memorable name, logo and visual identity are also vital.

6. How can I market my sex toy business effectively?

Utilise content marketing, social media, email marketing, influencer partnerships and paid advertising on platforms that allow adult products. Prioritise educational and inclusive content that respects privacy and promotes wellness.

7. What are the most effective ways to ensure privacy and discretion for my customers?

Offer discreet packaging, secure payment methods and ensure your website has robust privacy policies in place. Also, implementing effective age verification processes helps maintain customer trust and legal compliance.

8. How important is mobile optimisation for my online store?

With a significant portion of online shopping conducted on mobile devices, optimising your site for mobile users is crucial. Ensure a responsive design, fast loading times, easy navigation and mobile-friendly payment options.

9. Can I sell internationally, and what should I consider?

Selling internationally expands your market but introduces complexities such as compliance with local laws, international shipping regulations and customs. Research and plan for these factors to ensure smooth operations across borders.

10. How do analytics help in managing my online sex toy store?

Analytics provide insights into customer behaviour, product performance and marketing campaign effectiveness. Use this data to make informed decisions about inventory, marketing strategies and website optimisation to improve sales and customer experience.