Let me tell you if I wanted to start a successful online business I wouldn't start from here. I've often heard that running an online store is a constant race to the bottom but I think they have it totally wrong. It’s a race to the top.
What was acceptable 10 years ago when we started would be laughable now. Customers expect without question to have free fast delivery, free returns, online chat, loads of free advice and help content, simple checkout, an unboxing experience and the lowest prices. The competition is fierce and we constantly strive to improve and make buying off us an easier, faster and cheaper experience but it is a constantly moving target.
When you buy online you have actually more rights then an in-store purchase. This race to the top is only increasing too and makes entry into this market for brand new players seriously challenging.
Imagine trying to launch a brand new online store now into this market. The costs and experience required now is staggering to to catch up.
There is also an idea that the costs of running an online store is a fraction of a High Street store. Well we have both and let me tell you the margins on online sales are much lower. When you factor in Shipping, Returns, Google Tax, Chargebacks, Fullfillment etc it definitely is not the easy money many perceive, but saying all that we love it.
Customers should expect better. There is no reason they can’t have it all but some things are unsustainable. For me, especially in the eCommerce clothes business, returns are totally crazy. We get it too where customers buy a product for €30 which we’ve paid shipping for (free shipping remember). Look at the product maybe even try it out (sex toys now) change their mind and expect us to pay for them to ship it back and refund them the €30, we’d be left with a serious loss and a used sex toy. Any business that runs this way is not a real business and is deluded into thinking revenue is profit or hoping for inspiration before their cash runs out. I would also suggest customers should never trust a business like this.
These mad returns policies in online clothes businesses just mean used products get resold so in effect they are selling second-hand and in sex toys that is simply disgusting.
We obviously would never dream of doing that. Returned sex toys are ALWAYS binned at PlayBlue. We just can’t take the chance. Generally we do returns in a pragmatic way that we believe is always fair. If you buy off us then change your mind and don’t open the product (excludes lubes and lingerie) you can post it back and we’ll refund the order. If you buy a sex toy off us and it breaks we will generally ask you to bin it and we’ll send you a new one, assuming it is still in warranty. We like to keep it simple and easy, none of this printing labels or generally even shipping products back.
This race to the top ain’t stopping let me tell you, in the next few years I expect us to be using drone deliveries 7 days a week, many of our bestsellers will have 3D / VR product demos, we will be using AI to catch and fix issues before anyone notices, we will become more wellness focused and supply to more niche interests.
Customers should expect more and we plan to deliver.