D.VICE Australia and New Zealand

By on July 1, 2015
DVICE

D.VICE the toy shop for grown ups
Established : In Australia 2003 in New Zealand 1998
Head Office : Wellington NZ
Staff : 20+ 3 in Australia
Stores : Melbourne, Auckland & Wellington New Zealand
URL : www.dvice.com.au and www.dvice.co.nz

What does a typical day at D.VICE look like?
Currently I have a fair amount of input into the D.VICE websites as we have recently launched new sites and there is plenty of room to play and add new content etc. We have incoming stock from international suppliers as well as ordering and then working with the marketing team on upcoming events and promotions or having skype meetings with staff and checking over sales etc. I do a lot of writing for the blogs and answer customer questions, this keeps me in touch with the customer experience as I am not working in the stores.

What are some of the best things D.VICE has done?
We have a good reputation in Australasia as a good sex toy company operator with the D.VICE brand a mark of quality products, friendly knowledgeable staff and accurate and free information. A lot of people are not aware that D.VICE. made products are actually made by D.VICE in our factory in Wellington NZ and not simply rebadged mass produced products like many other major brands.
We are lucky to attract staff who are committed to the brand and who love working for D.VICE.
What have been some of the best moments at D.VICE?

Sometimes it is the little things such as helping an 80 year old woman buy her first vibrator over the phone or working with a gentleman with Erectile Dysfunction after prostate surgery to regain his sexual confidence and then there are the bigger things such as being interview on 20/20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3jqLfsBr_I which was fabulous fun.
Ema & I were invited by Penguin to write a sex advice book called D.VICE Advice based on real sex questions that customers have asked over the years. It was challenging and fun. This has been published and is still selling steadily. We would like to write a similar style of book for teenagers and young adults.

What are a few of the key variables in order of importance to ensure the best chance of success in adult retail?
1. A great team of staff who are well trained and supported
2. A positive attitude to sex and sexuality and a philosophy that staff and customers believe in
3. Trustworthy, reliable and honest business practices so those customers trust your company and develop loyalty. A safe and welcoming environment for customers to shop in.
4. A good product range of safe, fun and reliable products, whatever your target market is.
5. A good online presence to back up in-store.

What makes a great store location?
We find that being somewhere with good foot traffic and visibility but not in a too highly visible area, ie not next to or opposite a café, there is still a fear factor where don’t want to be seen going into or coming out of a sex shop- particularly by someone they know.
Does D.VICE target a specific customer demographic?
Our main customer base is lesbian, transgender and heterosexual couples in new and long term relationships, also single women and men, generally in the 25-55 age group.

As we make a range of products for the LGBT community and have had good support particularly from lesbian and transgendered FTM customers.

What makes a great adult retail staff member?
Adult retail staff need to be friendly and confident and approachable. Above all they need to be good listeners to really hear what customers are asking for and be able to help customers find the right sex gear for them. Staff need to feel valued and respected and we strive to provide an open and trusting workplace for our teams.

What do staff most love about their jobs ?
D.VICE retail is very rewarding, the team in all the stores and at parties feel like they are making a real difference in the lives of their customers. They get mainly very positive feedback from customers and we often receive emails from customers thanking the staff and for the help and support they have given. We encourage team members to submit writing if they have a special interest area that we can post on our blog, as there can be down times on retail and it is good for staff to be stimulated mentally in store as well.

What do staff most often complain about?
We don’t get a lot of staff complaints, retail can be a bit boring when it is quiet so we try to ensure the staff have other activities to keep them stimulated such as writing articles or researching products.

How often would you change a store layout or re-merchandise?
Each month, as we run specials, some of the stock is changed about. As the store is relatively open to view from the street we are careful that the viewable part of the store is very restrained with no phallic shaped items available to view, so that does limit a little how much the store can be changed around and we need to be careful with shop window displays as well. As new stock arrives displays promoting those are developed which can be as often as weekly.

How important is new product or product selection in a store?
D.VICE has a large number of repeat customers, so having new products that meet all the criteria of performance, quality materials, reliability and good warranty periods. We like to be sure of products so that what we sell customers will do what it claims, and keep the selection current and interesting so customers keep coming back.

What trends have you observed in adult pleasure products?
We have been in the industry since 1998 and sex toys have change a lot over that time. Right from the beginning we were making 100% silicone dildos and butt plugs, free range leather harnesses and quality toys. Back then most sex toys were made from latex or unknown materials. The big improvements have been in skin friendly, phthalate free materials and from phallic looking, noisy battery operated toys to gorgeous, designed, rechargeable and low noise sex toys that are pleasurable to look at and use. Mobile phone technology has really helped as well and sex toys are desirable and considered mainstream which is great.

How does D.VICE keep informed about adult pleasure products?
We listen to our customers and staff, read up on blogs and check out supplier web catalogues, with so much available we do some checking on blogs to see what feedback there is as we have be burnt by ordering untried product from reputable manufacturers where the product was not ready for market. We take a lot more care now even with quality sex toy makers such as We-Vibe and Lelo.

What makes a successful product?
A successful product matches a need, is appealing in size, shape, power, noise and ease of use. It does what it claims to and the majority of people can use it with ease. It needs to look, feel, sound and smell good! A product that is a bit intriguing is good as it generates interest. The more versatile a product is the better, so if it can be used by both women and men, or used in a number of different ways and especially if couples can use it together, it has a good chance of being successful. Technological advances and great toys like the We-Vibe 4 Plus have raised customer expectations and a toy must be rechargeable, made with skin friendly materials and have good warranties to even be considered by our customer base.

What have been some of your best selling items of all time ?
From the D.VICE range the Groover and Hipster leather strap-on harnesses. Because we make them in a range of sizes from Australasian women’s size 6 to size 24 as our standards, many women and men who could not normally use a strap-on have been able to play this way. Also the Toa and Boss silicone dildos are top sellers. The Tantus Feeldoes and Fun Factory Share range has been a good match for the D.VICE Strap-on harnesses. Vibrators; the We-Vibe – now 4 Plus, but from the release of the We-Vibe 1 has been a great performer as has the Lelo Mona 2 and Gigi 2. Purr Clitoral Arousal Gel is our star performing arousal gel for women and we have been selling this for over 10 years.

If we look at your adult retail business 5 years ago versus now, what changes did you see and how have you responded to them?
Customers have become much better informed and expect more from their sex toys than 5 years ago. We find people are prepared to spend more on a product knowing that it will bring them a lot of pleasure and last. Over time we have eliminated all but the best battery operated toys. We have upped our own product range, introducing more in the Bondage range as trends such as the Fifty Shades of Grey books/movie have made bondage more mainstream and acceptable. The online presence has been a big change, more people shopping online as well as more competition, so we have had to improve our website and service to meet these demands.

How do you view the trend toward online shopping and the changing role of the physical shops?
We find that many of our customers who live close to a store will look online and then come into a store to touch and feel the toys, they want to have the full experience that in-store service offers. Likewise visitors to the store may be from out of town and having established what we are about, they have the trust and confidence to repeat purchase online. However without a doubt the overall trend is to more online shopping and this does mean that there will be fewer operators with physical shops.

How is D.VICE responding to the rise in ecommerce sales?
We have recently rebuilt our websites to take account of the technology that customers are using – to offer a better user experience. Mobile responsive, a more intuitive and easy to navigate site with bigger images and video. We have focused more on the visual appeal of the website and good accessible content on the blog, such as D.VICE sex podcasts as well as D.VICE Advice Q&A – as well as the D.VICE Magazine. And we run a very active social media looking at current sex related issues and promoting that through various channels Facebook, Twitter etc.

We see online as a stand-alone income stream as it has nationwide and worldwide appeal and a great support for bricks and mortar stores, as customers have the ease of shopping online once they have had an in-store experience.

How would you view the market for adult pleasure product in Australia, in general? Are there any challenges particular to operating in Australia?
Australians are becoming increasingly open to sex toys and shows such as Sexpo are a great way of showcasing what is now and different. There are some pretty crazy censorship laws that are out of step with the reality of the times with anybody able to download pornography yet we are not easily able to sell educational DVD’s etc. I think there is a place for respecting the rights of consenting adults to make their own choices around sex and access to sex gear in Australia and modernising the censorship laws.

What advice could you give someone intending to start in adult retail today?
There are a lot of operators, particularly online in Australia so there is fierce competition, often around price. Someone will always be able to sell something cheaper than you can, so you need to have a unique offering that will appeal to a loyal audience. We are fortunate in having the D.VICE product range that we only sell to selected customers and a good reputation for quality and service.

After 16 years in the adult industry Ema & I are ready to hand over the reins and sell the D.VICE to a new operator who can bring a different set of eyes and skills to the business. With the business operating mainly in the Cloud it can be managed from anywhere in the world. So if there is a keen starter for a quality sex toy company in Australia and/or New Zealand, get in touch!

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