Jacq Jones of sex toy retailer Sugar joins us to discuss integration and business mission (episode 149)

Jacq Jones is the owner and sex educator at Sugar – a lesbian owned, multi-gender operated, for profit, mission driven sex toy store providing education and toys. Sugar is a bricks and clicks business based in Baltimore USA; they launched in 2007 and have seen up to 20% growth each year since launch.

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sugar the shop podcast
About the business

Listen to learn why education about sex toys is so important.

Getting Started

Jacq opened Sugar in April of 2007 and had a website, but did not have eCommerce on the website. Having never run her own business before, she didn’t want to do something right away that she wasn’t sure she could do well. She knew she’d eventually have to do eCommerce, despite her allergy to going to the post office and mailing things. A year and a half after opening, she added eCommerce. While the brick side of the business is still driving sales, the eCommerce side is steadily growing as well, thanks largely to her switch to Lightspeed, which she is still thrilled and raving about five years post-switch.

Listen to learn why Lightspeed has been amazingly helpful for in-store integration, adding products to in-store points of sale, and removing items from points of sale.

The Team

Everyone on the team works in both the bricks side and the clicks side. Everything is integrated. Luckily for Jacq’s aversion to mailing things, she now has a coworker who mails packages for her.

Clearly-Stated Mission

Before Jacq even signed the lease for her building to open Sugar, she was already working on the store’s mission, values, and vision. The ‘About Us’ section of the website has the mission, values, and vision clearly detailed, and the team at Sugar sticks to those values. It drives what they are purchasing and how they are behaving, which is valuable not only on an ethical level, but also in terms of branding.

Listen to learn how ‘mission creep’ can make things messy and effect the long-term health of the business. Listen for Sugar’s lingerie example.

Tips for a Great ‘About Us’ Page

You have to get to the core of what your business is, and share that. Share what makes you passionate about what you do.

Core Customers

Sugar’s core customer group are those who want quality and have questions, which covers a broad spectrum. Jacq makes descriptions on the website really clear so people can get what they want and need. In-store, there’s an additional layer of conversation and education. Jacq wants her customers to feel like they have a relationship with the company and give them the right experience. To carry that personalized feeling over to the internet space, she puts little notes with products they send out and communicates with customers via email, and really makes them feel like they are part of something.

Most Awesome Thing Right Now

The most awesome thing is the customers, both online and in-store. They are incredible people, and Jacq is constantly awed and inspired by them and their bravery and their willingness to take chances, learn, and expand.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Word of mouth — it’s the most effective but doesn’t get the press it deserves because it’s difficult to monetize and sell.

Listen to learn why Sugar has a hard time using social media to promote their products.

Tool Top Tip

  • Lightspeed

Growth Top Tip

  • Build relationships with your customers in whatever ways you can, and in as many different ways as you can.

Interview Links