How to Sell Sex Toys Online in 2024: A Beginner’s Guide
We’ve come a long way when it comes to talking openly about sexuality. What was once hushed and taboo is now out in the open for everyone to see (and embrace!). This can be seen clearly in the explosive growth of the sex toy market. Data shows that this market is set to keep growing—it’s estimated to double between 2023 and 2030, from $40.6 billion to $80.7 billion.
If you’ve been considering starting your own sex toy business, you’re in the right place at the right time. Entrepreneurs selling adult toys online have more opportunities than ever. And when it comes to creating products, you’re bound only by your own creativity.
Let’s take a look at the general steps you should take to start your own sex toy business.
7 steps to start selling sex toys online
Of course, no two businesses will be the same or have the same process. But there are some key points to hit as you build your adult toy empire.
1. Find your niche
Some entrepreneurs enter the sex toy industry knowing exactly what they’ll sell and who their audience will be. But many don’t.
If you’re not sure what your niche will be, that’s your first to-do. You’ll need to make sure that, in addition to some great sex toys, you’re marketing them to an audience that actually wants to buy them.
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Here are some considerations:
- Who’s your target audience? Try getting specific, like the LGBTQIA+ community or BDSM community. The more targeted the group, the easier your marketing and sales can be.
- What’s your product type? The sexy toy industry is massive. Do you want to offer devices like vibrators and dildos, or other types of items and accessories like lingerie, lubricants, and condoms?
- What themes or trends will you follow? You might consider fantasy products, innovative tech products, emerging trend products, or sexual health and wellness, to name a few.
2. Choose how you’ll make or source your sex toys
You have three main choices: create your sex toys yourself, outsource to a manufacturer, or resell products that have already been made. Before you choose, consider the pros and cons of each.
For example, making them yourself gives you much more control of your business, but you’ll have more responsibility in covering safety and testing, as well as more trouble scaling if your business gets big.
If you outsource manufacturing, you’ll be able to tap into the experience and resources of a larger company, but you’ll have less control over your business.
And if you resell, you’ll have a much faster time getting to market, but you’ll be at the mercy of your suppliers (who may be selling the same sex toys to other businesses).
3. Be thorough about safety and privacy
When you’re running an online sex toy business, you have a critical responsibility to make sure your products are safe and that your customers’ privacy is held to the highest standard.
If you’re creating or manufacturing custom products, the onus is on you to make sure that your products are safe to use and that your advice and education are leading to the best possible outcomes. Use disclaimers, FAQs, instructional content, and detailed labeling where you can. Make sure you’re complying with regulations in the country and region(s) where you’re doing business.
Lastly, be sure to ship the items in discreet packaging and use customer data according to privacy guidelines.
4. Create your brand
Once you know what you want to sell and who will want to shop with you, you can bring your sex toy brand to life. Don’t be afraid to make it personal—ask yourself questions like what you stand for, what your goals are, and what value you’ll bring to your customers (and even the world).
Use these points to set the tone and voice for your brand, as well as the core messaging you’ll communicate to your audience. Build a connection that really resonates.
These elements will then go into building your full brand identity, including your logo, color palette, fonts, product packaging, and brand visuals like photography and graphics.
5. Build your online sex toy store
Now it’s time for the rubber (or silicone) to hit the road. You’ll want to keep laws and regulations in mind as you build. For example, some payment processors and web providers might restrict your sales due to the risqué nature of the sex toy business.
Here are the core things you’ll need when setting up your sex toy website:
- Customizable theme (if you’re not building from scratch).
- High-quality product photography—don’t skimp on this part! Good photos will play a huge role in building customer trust.
- Key pages, including product and collection pages, FAQ, About, Policies, and Contact.
- Connection to a payment processor that accepts your terms.
6. Price your toys
Setting the right price for sex toys can be tricky. You’ve got to cover your costs and still offer a price that customers are willing to pay.
Understand your costs
First things first, work out your costs: manufacturing, shipping, everything. Add a profit margin, but keep it realistic. Your price should reflect the value of your product and fit what your customers are willing to pay
Study the competition
See what similar products are priced at. Your prices should be in the same ballpark, unless your product has unique features or superior quality that justifies a higher price.
Implement tiered pricing
Offer adult sex toys at different price points—from budget options to premium ones. This attracts a wider range of customers and caters to different budgets.
7. Craft your sex toy marketing and sales plan
Now is the fun part! Use your creativity, savvy, and even your sense of humor to get out there and actually start selling sex toys.
Apart from strictly ecommerce, you might also find that in-person events like trade shows, festivals, and conferences can be an incredible way to expand your network and showcase your sex toy brand.
As for marketing, consider strategies like:
- Email and SMS marketing: Start building your email list before launching products. Create excitement by directing people to a “Coming soon” page and offer perks for early sign-ups.
- Content and SEO: Use engaging content on your site to build trust and assist customers. Also, drive site traffic by targeting relevant keywords.
- Influencer marketing: Connect with sex-positive influencers who resonate with your target audience. New brands can benefit from collaborating with micro influencers at more affordable rates.
- Affiliate networks: Establish a network with other websites, blogs, and advertisers. They earn a commission for each sale they refer, expanding your reach.
- PR and media pitches: Keep your brand in the spotlight with consistent media engagement. Aim to create products and stories that are worth sharing and talking about.
How much does it cost to start a sex toy business?
Starting a sex toy business involves different costs depending on your approach.
Reselling sex toys
If you opt to resell, you’ll face expenses like purchasing inventory, renting storage space, and fees for setting up an online store. Even if you manage some tasks yourself, like branding, starting out will likely require a few thousand dollars.
Manufacturing sex toys
For those who plan to make their products, initial costs may be lower. You can produce items based on orders, avoiding excess inventory. However, equipment and supplies can still be a significant expense, potentially ranging from hundreds to thousands. Plus, investing in branded packaging, which often has minimum order requirements, is essential.
Designing novel sex toys
Creating a new or novel product demands more time and money. This process typically takes at least one year and can cost around $10,000 upfront. Manufacturing adds another layer of cost with minimum order quantities, impacting your budget.
Dropshipping sex toys
Dropshipping is the most cost-effective method to start selling. It requires less capital, with a few hundred dollars usually sufficient for a basic website and online tools. The trade-off is less control over production and shipping.
Your sex toy empire awaits
Especially for those who are passionate about sexual health, education, and empowerment, selling sex toys online can be a massively rewarding business. And as we’ve seen in recent years, this industry is just getting started, and is projected to see continuous growth for years to come.
So if you’re looking to sell adult toys online, start by following the steps we outlined: figure out your niche, choose your production or sourcing method, stay on top of privacy and safety, build a memorable brand, create your sex toy store, and craft a killer marketing plan.