The rapid developments in the internet and the adult market were Eric Idema’s main motivation to enter the e-commerce segment as a seller of sex toys. Ever since then, the company has seen continued growth, as demonstrated by numerous changes of location that had become necessary to accommodate the expanding company. The introduction of the EasyToys private brand in 2015 was another milestone, as was last year’s decision to enter the wholesale market. In our EAN interview with Eric Idema, we take a closer look at ten years of EDC.
How did you get into the industry? And what did you do professionally before EDC? Eric Idema: Many years ago, I wanted to be a farmer or at least work in the agrarian sector. I also went to a so-called ‘green’ school, to learn everything about food and plants. But my ideas and ambitions changed a lot during the years. I worked as a logistics planner and as a logistics manager. Someone I met several years ago happened to be in the webcam and SMS business. I thought ‘what they can do, I can do too, but better’. So, I started some websites with links (affiliate-based) to movies, webcams, and SMS services. I had so many visitors every day that I came up with the idea of adding a shop to the sites. Suddenly, I got my first order and then it all started. At the beginning, I didn’t have any supplies; I only placed an order when I sold an item from my web shop. Later, I started stocking up on the fast movers in my bedroom closet. But when things really started developing, I started EDC Internet B.V. and bought my first little stockroom (80sqm).
What was it that drew you to this industry?
I got in contact with the erotic branch through my previous job and I was fascinated by the development of the internet. The adult business is exciting and completely different from other industries. I was curious to see how far it would take me.
Is the adult industry an industry like any other, or does it have its own, unique peculiarities?
It definitely has its own unique peculiarities. It’s a different world, where business relationships are unlike any other. It’s hard to explain to someone who isn’t familiar with this industry, it’s a feeling and a lifestyle. This industry is very special, with many amazing people who have become great friends. I feel blessed to work with every single one of them.
What was your goal when you started EDC ten years ago? What did you bring to the market that hadn’t been there before?
One of the USPs we had at EDC from the beginning was ‘same day shipment’. Ordering online and having it delivered the next day was what distinguished us from the competition. Next to that, we offered many API options. In 2009, we started offering dropshipping, which was fairly new at that time. Our goal was – and still is – to offer quick delivery and great service.
From the very beginning, EDC focussed on e-commerce. What was the reasoning behind this strategy?
My background was e-commerce, so for me, it made sense to continue on this trajectory. This strategy turned out to be successful for EDC from the very beginning, so there was never a reason to change the strategy.
Which other philosophies and qualities helped make EDC what it is today?
The thing that is typical for EDC is a very ‘down to earth’ atmosphere, where we work hard, but where humour and mutual respect are also important aspects. We have a dedicated team of hard-working people who all strive to make this the best company in the industry. Our friendly and experienced customer service we can offer the best support and assistance to our b2b customers. We offer advanced API solutions and can deliver within 24 hours to the customers from our own stock. Our prices are competitive and our extended product range contains many well-known brands. We keep up with developments in the field of technology and try to anticipate (unexpressed) customer needs and wishes.
Ten years ago, did you ever imagine that your company would become one of the leading companies in the European adult industry?
Of course, I had hopes and dreams, but I never imagined that EDC would grow so fast. If I had known this ten years ago, I would have bought our current warehouse on the first day. It would have saved us a lot of moving – 4 times in 7 years!
Would you mind giving us an overview of EDC’s history? What were the big steps, from starting the company to launching EDC Wholesale?
I started EDC Internet B.V. in March 2007 in an 80 sqm stockroom. Within one year, I was able to add the adjacent space, which offered us a total of 160 sqm. We kept growing and by 2012, the space was too small for all the products so we had to move to a new warehouse with more than 1000 sqm allowing us to store 8.000 items. That seemed a lot at the time, but within 3 years, this space became too small as well. Not only for the products, but also for our employees. The final move was to our current warehouse with a logistics centre of over 8000 sqm, enough to stock 35.000 items. Another big step was the development of our house brand EasyToys, which was launched at eroFame 2015 and was very well received by the audience. We are still developing and expanding the collections to offer a comprehensive assortment of quality toys, with beautiful packaging at interesting prices.
Your company has experienced rapid growth, and as a result, EDC quickly outgrew the original warehousing space. Another thing that probably needed to be expanded at some point was your trophy shelf because you won numerous awards throughout your history – and not just industry awards. What do these accolades mean to you?
It’s an honour to receive an award, which is a wonderful acknowledgment of all the hard work we have done. For example, we received a prestigious regional award and it humbles me to get recognition for what we do for the region of Groningen. We are very proud of this Corporate Social Responsibility award.
Ten years are a long time: What are your fondest memories, and which events in the company’s history would you rather forget?
Every time th stock hit the ceiling in our storage room or warehouse was a special moment. Four times, we managed to outgrow ourselves, within a record time and beyond any expectation. We challenged ourselves to take it to the next step, year after year, and it is a great feeling to accomplish the unexpected. Our team has been a great support in this factor and we couldn’t have done it without their hard work and dedication. I can’t really say that there are events I would rather forget. Making mistakes is part of the growing pains and process. It’s what makes you better. If I had to mention one thing, I would say that the construction of our current warehouse was a setback. It took much longer than we expected, but the beautiful end-result made it worth the while. And we can now grow and expand our business without any limitations.
Another big step for EDC was certainly entering the wholesale market. What made you confident that your company would prevail in this competitive, ever-changing segment?
Our outstanding customer service and fast delivery service is what gave me the confidence to enter the wholesale market. We have an exceptional technical support team with great IT knowledge, we are flexible, and able to move fast when change is necessary.
Has the performance of EDC Wholesale met your expectations? How important is this part of the company, compared to your other activities? How much focus will you put on the wholesale business going forward?
EDC Wholesale has become an important part of our company. Andre Visser (International Sales Director) is completely dedicated to the wholesale activities and has managed to do great things so far. And he has only been with us for nine months, so I expect great things to happen in 2017. All our efforts will be going into offering a wide assortment of products and brands and the best service possible.
The adult market has changed quite a bit throughout the past ten years. Comparing the situation back then to the situation today, what are the biggest differences?
The biggest differences, in my opinion, are the products, the packaging, and the marketing strategies. Ten years ago, it was all about naked women on the packaging and the marketing was more focussed on men. Today, we see a totally different approach. Shops are more open and accessible, products are beautiful, and the packaging is stylish. The marketing strategies are focussing on the everyday woman and this shift is the best thing that could have happened to our industry. The retailers and the manufacturers are more aware of the customers’ demand, which makes a difference in the way people think about ‘adult products’. It has become a normal topic and something you don’t have to be ashamed of.
How will EDC celebrate the big anniversary? Will you also let your customers share in these celebrations?
The 10th anniversary of EDC is a big milestone for us. We have worked hard on the new warehouse and we are finally where we always wanted to be, and we got there so much faster that we could have predicted. With this anniversary, we can show our appreciation to our customers who have supported us tremendously throughout the years. Now it’s time to offer them something in return. We have some exciting offers and spectacular discounts in store for our valued customers. The details are still a surprise, but it will be exciting for sure.
What are your goals and hopes for the next ten years?
My hope is for us to become bigger and better at what we do. I think we are on the right trajectory, but we haven’t reached our final goal yet. So, we will continue to grow and expand our assortment, house brands, and services. We have the right tools to make this happen; a warehouse and office building with room for growth, a magnificent team, and a strong mind.