Online sexual wellness retailer Lovehoney, originally launched in the UK in 2002, has recently celebrated its 20th birthday with a look back at two decades of success in e-commerce, recognised even by the late Queen Elizabeth in twice being award a Queen’s Award for Enterprise.
In Australia, the presence of Lovehoney is much younger, having only launched its country specific offering on Aussie shores in 2016. Nonetheless, its growth domestically and globally has fast seen it become one of the leading sexual wellness online retailers.
“Since launching the website in 2016, the response towards Lovehoney from Australian consumers has been overwhelmingly positive. [For example] we successfully tendered the Fifty Shades of Grey licence, of which The Fifty Shades of Grey range is now one of our most successful product lines,” says Rob Godwin, Director of Lovehoney Australia, “A large part of our success can be attributed to our focus on removing the stigma around sex toys, making it easier for customers to shop pleasure products and essentials without shame. We’ve come along way since starting out in a spare bedroom with one phone line and two computers, with the business expanding to become market leaders in sexual wellness products.”
“With over 60 staff, 24/7 operations and customer service, each member of the team lives and breathes our core values to allow us to continue to be the leader in sexual wellness across Australia & around the world.”
The e-commerce retailer particularly experienced then-unprecedented spikes in popularity and sales growth during the period of pandemic lockdowns in 2020-21, further opening the doors for the destigmatisation of sexual wellness and the continued rise of Lovehoney as one of the pioneers at the forefront of the same.
“The pandemic accelerated the sexual wellness industry and resulted in increased demand for sexual wellness products. At Lovehoney, we saw a surge in new customers and this has continued post pandemic, as Aussies benefit from the ease and convenience of online shopping and the speed of deliveries,” Godwin tells Power Retail, “With the increased demand we saw an opportunity to continue to bring sexual wellness into the mainstream, with Lovehoney products now being stocked at Adore Beauty, David Jones and onboarded other retail partners including e-commerce website, The Somewhere Co, and Australia’s premium eco-store, Flora and Fauna.”
“This period also highlighted the need and importance of excellent communication, customer service and transparency with customers. As we moved through the pandemic it became obvious that customers were not willing to accept excuses or poor service from e-commerce retailers.”
The process of destigmatising discussion and the embrace of sexual wellness, however, has not been a necessarily seamless process nor one to happen overnight. Still, Lovehoney and Lovehoney Australia Director Rob Godwin are far from perturbed, as the pursuit of normalising topics of sexuality and pleasure remain very much front of mind for the retailer.
“We have seen significant progress, especially during and following the pandemic but there is still a way to go,” says Godwin, “I believe there is a lack of understanding towards the importance of sex and masturbation on both physical and mental health, and I believe more Australians should engage in these conversations around intimacy with loved ones and friends.”
As another forward step in its quest to normalise such discussions, and broaden avenues of access to Australians and consumers worldwide seeking to explore these topics, Lovehoney have also recently taken the ambitious step of entering the Metaverse – becoming the first sexual wellness retailer to enter the virtual world.
“In a world where sexual wellness brands are being silenced by ‘Big Tech’, creating a pop-up store within the Metaverse allowed us to explore the possibilities the space offers for customers and ourselves as a retailer,” says Godwin, “The Metaverse offers an anonymous place for people to explore sexual wellness products and content around the topic of sexuality.”
The e-commerce success story is also eyeing off opportunities to assist its customers during the present pressures of the economic climate, recognising the enhanced value of sales events and limited deals to consumers increasingly hungry for opportunities to save amid a cost of living crunch.
“Lovehoney will continue to offer consumers advice and support across our website, on socials and through our ambassadors,” Godwin offers, “We will also continue to participate in key shopping dates like Click Frenzy, Afterpay Day and Black Friday, so Aussies can shop their favourite products with special offers.”
Ultimately, 20 years after first opening its doors into the then-new world of e-commerce, Lovehoney has no shortage of reasons to celebrate as much as it doesn’t lack in ambitions for the future. Having already defied odds to succeed in a challenging space, defying stubborn cultural stigmas, there is seemingly no telling what kinds of success Lovehoney might be celebrating in another 20 years’ time.
The e-commerce landscape is changing. With a Power Retail Switched On membership, you get access to current e-commerce revenue and forecasting, traffic levels, average conversion rate, payment preferences and more!