“The philosophy of our company is to bring happiness to people’s lives.”
When you enter an erotic store in Ukraine, you can be sure to find products from SexOpt there, say Anton Huranskyi and Refat Seit-Abdulla. The two are the CEOs of SexOpt, a wholesale company founded in 2009 that supplies the Ukrainian trade members with well-known, established brands to meet their customers’ wishes. In our interview, Anton and Refat tell us more about their company, their home market, and the challenges facing retailers in Ukraine.
SexOpt is a wholesale company based in the Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrowsk. Since when have you been active in the erotic market? How has the company developed over the course of this time?
Anton Huranskyi: Yes, our office and warehouse are located in Dnipro city (Dnepropetrovsk is the old name of the city; it’s not used anymore). We chose this city as a location because of logistics reasons: It is situated in the central part of Ukraine, and delivery to any other city in Ukraine usually only takes one day.
We have been active in the market since 2009. In the beginning, we were located in Crimea as a retail online shop with two brands for male health, but in 2014, we moved to Dnipro city, reorganised, and become wholesalers and distributors.
At the beginning, our team was only three people in a little office in Crimea without a warehouse. But now, we have team of 20 people, and we have a big office and warehouse in Dnipro. We started with two brands, and now we represent more than 60 brands from all over the world.
Which countries and markets make up your core territory? How many regions do you supply in total?
Refat Seit-Abdulla: We work only within Ukraine; we do not export products to any other countries. We are distributing erotic products in the whole of Ukraine – every city where an erotic shop can be found. And they are all working with us.
“We are distributing erotic products in the whole of Ukraine – every city where an erotic shop can be found. And they are all working with us. ” – Refat Seit-Abdulla
Can you tell us a bit about the people behind SexOpt? Is there a corporate philosophy you follow in your company?
Refat: Behind Sexopt is team of like-minded people who share common qualities such as: kindness, responsibility, determination, working capacity, positive attitude to life, and all these people also have their own, individual strengths that enable us to move forward as a team and make our company grow fast. The philosophy of our company is to bring happiness to people’s lives. Because a happy man is confident, effective in work, active in live, and generates happiness in other people around them through kindness. Yes, we want to make the world better!
What can you tell us about your current product range? What criteria do you use to choose new brands and products?
Anton: Today, we offer more than 3500 SKUs from our stock in Ukraine. And our range is constantly growing thanks to new brands and by adding new SKUs from existing brands.
When choosing a new brand or product, we first investigate market demands and our customers’ needs. Based on the gathered information, we then prepare requests looking at criteria such as: quality, safety, innovation, manufacturability, packaging design and quality, price, and country of origin. Thanks to international erotic trade shows, we get to see products “live” and get a clear idea about a product.
Which product categories are in high demand right now?
Anton: We divide our product range into three main categories: intimate cosmetic, erotic toys, and lingerie. In the cosmetics category, the most popular products are water-based lubricants, flavoured lubricants, arousal and stimulating products, and liquid vibrators. In the category of erotic toys, people love smart toys and non-expensive bullets; apart from that, products with vacuum wave stimulation are very popular, as are pocket masturbators – all type of “eggs”, really. In the lingerie category, bodystockings and stockings are in high demand. I would also like to highlight the fast-growing category of products for intimate female health: In addition to classic vaginal balls, these also include smart Kegel trainers and menstrual cups.
You also offer drop-shipping to your customers. How important is this business model for SexOpt? Is drop-shipping something that a lot of your customers use?
Refat: A modern distribution business can’t be without a drop-shipping service. Online sales dominate, and clients wants to get their purchased products as soon as possible. Due to the well-oiled logistics within our company and the ideal geographical location of our warehouse, delivery is very quick. All orders that are received before 5 p.m. ship the same day. And we guarantee that clients get their purchased products the next day in most cities within Ukraine.
Drop-shipping is a very useful tool to start online sales with a huge virtual warehouse but without investing money to buy the products and keeping them in stock. Thanks to the integration and data exchange tools within our system, new clients can usually start selling the next day. We are providing all the necessary information for a smooth start: photo and video content, descriptions and characteristics of the products, actual stock and recommended retail prices.
Many wholesalers have also started manufacturing and offering private labels. Do you also have your own labels? What is your stance on this topic?
Anton: Many distributors/wholesalers who offer private brands mostly just repack the current range of Chinese products; they do not even invest in research or development, and of course they do not invest in innovation either. As a result, this trend slows down the global adult industry. We see the same products from different companies, and many of them are different only in packaging and brands label. For now, we have no plans to develop our own brands. Instead, we focus on promoting well-known trademarks in Ukraine. But if we ever decide to launch our own design and research department, we will let you know.
Let’s talk about your home market. How is the adult market structured in Ukraine? Do bigger cities have several shops? Are these shops modern or are they more traditional sex shops?
Refat: The most popular sales channels in Ukraine are offline shops, show rooms, online shops, Instagram/telegram channels. Many of our b2b customers don’t just rely on one channel of sales but combine different ways to catch a buyer.
The adult market in Ukraine is still growing and changing, and even though you won’t find shops in smaller towns, the big cities can have two, three, four sex shops within just one district. The overwhelming majority of offline locations are traditional sex shops, but there is a trend toward shops that provide modern atmosphere and service.
” The adult market in Ukraine is still growing and changing, and even though you won’t find shops in smaller towns, the big cities can have two, three, four sex shops within just one district.” – Refat Seit-Abdulla
What distinguishing features does the Ukrainian market have in comparison to other markets?
Refat: In comparison to the European market, the adult market in Ukraine has the following features. The topic of sex and pleasure is a bit of a taboo, as is traditional for the countries of the former USSR. Therefore, people’s sexual literacy is quite low. The major part of the population still believes that sex shops are only for perverts and their assortment consist of dildos and vaginas. We and our partners make efforts to change this view.
Moreover, most citizens of Ukraine have little disposable income, which – combined with their sexual illiteracy – pushes them to buy inexpensive and low-quality products. As a result, they have negative experiences and are less inclined to trust other products from the industry.
But the situation is not so as bad as it might seem; the growth of the adult market in Ukraine is just beginning. The sexual education of people in our country is increasing, and as result, interest in sexual products is also growing. This has enabled us to grow our company by 80-85% every year in the past three years.
In your opinion, what trends will shape the erotic market in the foreseeable future?
Anton: Smart toys will continue to evolve, teledildonics will move to a new level, the category of sexual wellness and sexual health will grow, and the development and integration of artificial intelligence in the adult industry will be a big deal as well.
How is SexOpt preparing to cater to these trends?
Anton: We are a young, ambitious and fast-growing company, we are open to new trends and ready to play our part in realising innovative projects in Ukraine. We keep a finger on the pulse of time and are ready to quickly respond to innovations by offering them to our customers.
(The lead picture shows Anton (left) and Refat (right) with their wives, Kateryna and Dinara, at the eroFame trade show in Hanover.)