E.A.N. (RIVISTA MENSILE) Settembre - 2011
The success story of MSX International
It was in 2005 when Mr. Mazzei wondered which products he should offer in his online store. The answer was found quickly: Sex and erotic products. Initially, his store was rather small, but that changed when he started working with Orion, who could offer him a great range of products and reasonable shipping and delivery times. He had his website overhauled by a small team, and every day, more customers visited www.mistersex.it. The great demand for sex toys inspired Mazzei to launch other websites, among them the wholesales platform www.mistersex-distribution.com.
urrently, MSX has five websites for consumers, one for Italian retailers and distributors, and one for foreign retailers and distributors. "I think that the wholesalers everybody knows have become so successful because of their hard work in the past and their business strategies. MSX was only a minor player on the Italian market not so long ago, and now we’re the market leader. We started to do business with clients outside of Italy only recently, and we expect to reach the next goal we set for ourselves some time after eroFame in Hanover," says Andrea Mazzei, the MSX sales manager, explaining why the company – whose clients include retailers from the bricks and mortar trade, from the online trade, resellers, vending machine companies, fashion stores, and distributors – has grown so quickly. When asked about the current situation on the Italian market and the importance of "traditional" and "modern" sex stores, Mazzei tells us that the erotic market in his home country can currently be divided into three groups; the traditional retailers, who run sex shops that are still in the vein of the 1970s and 1980s shops and still place their orders via fax. Then, there are the busy bees, self-made men who believe in their chances on the erotic market and also use the Internet at a means of selling their products. And finally, there are also sly frauds who sell everything, but don’t deliver anything, who promise a lot, but don’t abide by their word. "They destroy the price structure to lure in as many consumers as possible, and then they go to ground and disappear." In order to grow quickly, the wholesaler initially worked with anybody who was able to sell their products. Later, this strategy was revised. "We realized that we couldn’t offer every client the same terms and conditions without creating a lot of bad blood. By the time our catalogue for this year will be available, everybody is going to see that we have adopted a new approach to the retail market. We have developed a new policy, and it won’t be long until the trade can benefit from it." As the sales manager suggests, the company’s pricing policy is very competitive which allows MSX to sell to any retailers in the world. The MSX headquarters are situated in a suburb of Rome. Here, more than 12,000 products await dispatch in a 1000 square metre warehouse. "We offer the full range – sex toys, lingerie, DVDs, gag products, lubricants, cosmetics. It’s all there," explains Andrea Mazzei. MSX sets particularly great store by maintaining a balance between price and quality. "But of course, we also want to satisfy the wishes and needs of our clients. It is our goal to develop novel products with a modern packaging and bright colours – products that don’t feel too pushy or put off the consumers in any way." MSX benefits from the fact that mistersex.it is the biggest erotic online store in the whole of Italy, and every day, it has more than 20,000 visitors. ", Our advertisement and the products are being tested there in collaboration with our suppliers." The results of these tests help to clarify the consumers’ response to any MSX product. Apart from the new catalogue,
the company also plans to invest greatlyin advertisement and marketing materialsfor the trade. By the way, MSX does notonly distribute third-party brands anymore,but has developed its own brand, Toyz 4 Lovers,that will be presented to the public inOctober at eroFame 2011. “Toys 4 Lovers isin a way the result of a wager we madewith the Italian people", says Mazzei. “I’llexplain the peculiarities of the Italian marketlater, but the special thing about this marketis that hardly anyone in Italy contemplatedbecoming a producer. We, however,wanted to express a part of our businessphilosophy with our own products. The distributorsand wholesalers in our countriessell thousands of products every day, butnone of them can proudly say: Those aremine! So, in a way our foray into the worldof producing is a wager with the Italian people,and I am sure that we will win!"Whether there will be more own brands hasnot been decided yet, MSX wants to waitfor the welcome Toys 4 Lovers receives. Butthere are ideas for different brands, each ofwhich could cater to a different clientele.This way, consumers could find what theyare looking for quickly and easily. But whydoes MSX still sell DVDs, and why does thecompany even work together with the bestknownDVD producer in Italy? Well, here’swhy: When the DVD sales figures started todrop, MSX and Starmat, the producer anddistributor of popular Italian labels, launcheda b2c platform where consumers couldwatch movies via streaming. There areabout 500 films on that platformnow. “We are able to offer DVDs atcrazy prices. That is the only way tomaintain solid sales figures withthese products." Andrea Mazzeidoubts that Blu-ray or 3D could reinvigoratethat market because the percentageof consumers that have thishigh-end equipment is rather small inItaly. “I think that the 3D segment willgrow quicker than the Blu-ray market,but there has to be a significant drop inprices before the majority of consumerswill begin to investmoney in these new formats."When asked aboutthe current market situationin Italy, Mazzeistates that thebiggest issue rightnow for wholesalers and producer is to alwayshave enough products on stock. “Notbeing able to deliver is a death sentence forthe trade. If we can’t cater to the demandand the wants of the customers, we’redone." To prevent this from happening, atotal of fifteen people are currently employedto keep the warehouse stocked andto process orders quickly. Apart from thetwo owners, the MSX team includes an accountmanager, a webmaster, a designer, sixlogistics experts, two secretaries for customersupport, an IT specialist, and AndreaMazzei, the sales manager. “The strategythat all our decisions are based on is actuallyquite simple. We try to have a comprehensivearray of products available at alltimes, with products for every budget, aprofessional customer service, short deliverytimes, and high stock levels." The much-discussedeconomic crisis has not changedthat strategy, as Mazzei continues to explain:“The media talk about the crisis all thetime, but the matter of the fact is that wehave based our concept of life on well-beinghere in Italy. La dolce vita, so to speak. Wewant diversity when choosing our food, ourdrinks, our tobacco, etc. Nothing is ordinary,the people want to enjoy their life … and isthere any greater joy than sex?" The passionfor good food is not all that different fromthe passion for sex, he says. The Italian wayof life, in combination with a professionalbackground, allow MSX to take the sameemotional approach in the erotic market –and successfully, too. The company has becomethe national market leader, but it isalso doing a lot of business outside Italy, andthe clients are happy with the service andthe products they get both in Italy and abroad.“Various reasons contributed to the extinctionof numerous well-established Italiandistributors," Mazzei tells us. “One ofthese reasons for their bankruptcy is thatthings have changed. The lifestyle has developedquite a bit over the course of thepast few years. Standing still is lethal in anever-moving environment. Our company isyoung, and we work very hard to establishproducts and services in Italy that are on parwith the standards in other European countries.A great example for this would be ournew store chain. We’ll be opening the firstshops in a few months, and they will bevery different from the old erotic stores withtheir dim lights, thousands of porn DVDs,and unfriendly, ugly sales clerks. Those stores are a thing of the past – MSX is ushering
in the future! Our new stores willrevolutionise the erotic side of life, they willbe open and also inviting to all consumers,and they will offer a great selection of products,with thousands of sex toys for allbudgets. Sex is part of our lifestyle – and itis not a crime!!!” A much-asked question inthe current market situation is whether theold dictum “sex sells” still holds true thesedays. As we talk about the truth of thissaying and ask Andrea for some advice hemight have for the trade in these fairlytough times, the MSX sales managers answerstongue-in-cheek: “Our advice: Please,please, don’t follow our lead so we canbecome the undisputed global market leader!No, I am just kidding. Sex does sell,and proof of that can be seen everywhere,also in Italy. People need three things: Sex,food, and music! If you give them thesethings, you’re on the safe side.” His advicefor retailers with bricks and mortar stores isto change, to modernise, to adapt to thenew environment that has taken shapeover the course of the past years. Thingsare not as they used to be in the erotic business.“MSX never said we would sell theworld’s biggest vibrator, or what not, butwe did say that we want to develop anew, modern erotic mentality, and that’swhat we are working on. And what abouta young man, someone just like me? Well,I suggest you forget everything you’velearned, pursue your goals, and have faithin yourselves. Our country needs talented,young people who are willing to changethings, to think outside the box, becauseonly they can do away with all of those oldprejudices. People need to be free in theirshopping behaviour. Let them buy whatthey want to buy.” This evolution of themarket is not the sole change in the eroticindustry is currently undergoing. Anotherdevelopment with far-reaching ramificationshas taken place in the logistics process.The world is turning faster, and theproducts and the shopping preferences ofthe consumers (and therefore also the requirementsof the trade clients) are in constantmotion. The Internet has also madethe availability of products that much moreimportant. “Delivery times are vital, as I alreadymentioned. The retailers want to selltheir products faster than their customerscan buy them, so to speak. Our logisticsdepartment, i.e. the guys in charge of invoices,merchandise management, andclient-related IT tasks, works with SAP software.”The forwarder MSX teamed up withoffers some special terms that not only thecompany, but also the clients benefit from.Italian trade members usually get theirpackage 24 hours after it was ordered, andprivate consumers only have to wait oneday more than that. Retailers outside ofItaly usually get their package within fiveto six work days. “We dispatch our productsin high-quality boxes with filler materiallest the packaging or the productsthemselves are damaged. Our service isprofessional and very discreet, and theclients appreciate that a lot. As a matter offact, that is also one of the reasons whythey continue to place their orders with us.Professionalism und discretion are very importantin this business, that’s why we haveemployees who are tasked with ensuringclient contentedness and monitoring thepackages on their way to their destination.If you work with MSX, you’ll never feelalone!”When asked about the next eroFametrade convention, Andrea tells us thatMSX is currently doing overtime to get thefirst line of new products finished for theshow. MSX hopes to present a total of250 novelties in Hanover. “I am confidentthat we can reach new levels of qualitysoon, and that we will launch many moreinteresting top-sellers. Currently, we thinkabout getting into the market for maleunderwear. There is too little diversity inthat field – men can be sexy, too!” Apartfrom the aforementioned goal to changethe Italians’ idea of an erotic shopping experience,MSX also wants to modernise.And, naturally, they also want to gain asolid foothold in the European market.“We have set certain concrete goals forourselves, and we plan to achieve themby winning over more and more retailers.We are only happy when all of our tradepartners say: MSX are the best!” The Italianwholesaler has already made plans toestablish distribution centres in several Europeancountries in order to raise thesales figures, to reach the whole of theEuropean market, to be able to supplytheir clients much quicker, and to offerclient service in the respective nativelanguage.
La Stampa (QUOTIDIANO) Settembre - 2009
L’outlet dei pornodesideri
Viaggio nel più grandemercato all’ingrosso di sex toys: oggetti per ogni gusto
L'outlet delle lussurie diplastica è a Roma est,poco oltre il diciottesimochilometro della«Tiburtina Valley». Mimetizzatotra camion parcheggiati ele roulottes di un campo nomadi palpita«MSX International», ovvero ilparadiso dell’oggettistica erotica.Da quei mille metri quadrati di magazzinoescono ogni giorno, in anonimee discrete confezioni, centinaiadi marchingegni per uso sessualepronti a riempire vuoti affettivie riaccendere passioni sopite.Visto da fuori è un capannone grigiocon le vetrate fumé dove potrebberoimpacchettare pentole ocalzini, ma quando ci si affaccia all’internole file lunghissime di scaffaligrigio ferro alti fino al soffittorivelano subito che quello non ècerto un mercatone per famiglie.
Il regno del lattice
Nel silenzio claustrale un paio di signorestanno facendo l’inventario,serissime annotano tra i ripiani numeratistracolmi di pezzi anatomici.Tronchi umani, teste, mani, sonoi primi ad affacciarsi, ma quando siguarda meglio ci si accorge che tratutta quella simil carne, nella gammacromatica che va dal rosa pallidoal nero ebano, prevalgono le partidel nostro corpo che la verecondiaimpedisce di nominare.Entrare nel deposito dei desidericostruiti in realistico lattice digomma non solletica granché i sensi,non più di quanto possa farlo passeggiareper un deposito di ricambid’auto o attrezzi per il giardinaggio. Una decina tra impacchettatori efattorini passa con delle liste in manotra i piani e mette nei carrelli gliordini. Sembrano i folletti aiutantidi babbo natale, se non fosse perquei regalini motorizzati sono staticostruiti per far giocare signori attempati,casalinghe disperate, sposiniannoiati, sperimentatori sensorialie fantasiosi compulsivi.Duemilacinquecento clienti affezionatie seicentocinquanta esercizipubblici qui si riforniscono da tutt’Italiaordinando on line prodottistudiati dai migliori ingegneri dell’intrusionemeccanizzata, dal fiorfiore dei chimici specializzati in lubrificazioneabissale e carne artificiale.«In Italia il settore è sottosviluppatorispetto alle sue potenzialità», dice Andrea uno dei due socidell’azienda, ha trent’anni e si è buttatoin quell’attività con la bella fidanzatabionda. Entrambi ex artisti,ancora la domenica vanno a cantareper matrimoni e cresime.Lui nasce come venditore di materialiper bricolage, ma da tre anniha fiutato un ramo di hobbisticaben più remunerativo. La ragazzami dice che in Italia, come in Grecia,in Spagna o in Turchia il cliente maschiocerca oggetti che suppliscanoalla propria paura di essere inadeguatosessualmente, quindi ritardanti,protesi «aggiuntive» e soprattuttosviluppatori come pompe ecc. Il modellopiù raffinato è quello ad acqua«Bathmate Hydropump», da 90 euro.Al consumatore si offre l’opportunità«drop shipping», per cui i clientipossono a loro volta vendere ottenendol’accesso a un pannello in cui possonocaricare gli ordini, lavorando online sulla loro cerchia di amici accedonoa una percentuale sugli utili. «Abbiamocentinaia di richieste al giorno!!!-dice l’ingegnere addetto allo svilupposoftware - altri privati stannoinvestendo nella vendita automatica,è un ottimo affare!». Cominciano a vedersinel nord d’Italia, spesso in stazionidi servizio o videoteche, sono distributoriautomatici uguali a quellidelle merendine, solo che la merce èforse meno commestibile.Molti degli articoli nascono da polimeripensati per aziende di cosmeticio farmaci, poi si sono rivelati adattianche alla realizzazione di giocattolierotici. Mentre mi mettono in manouna vagina in barattolo e mi invitanoa toccarla per verificarne il «realismo», provo a obbiettare che odoraun po’ tanto di petrolio: «Basta lavarlacon il balsamo per i capelli!», misuggeriscono, poi mi viene spiegatoche tutti i materiali sono continuamenteperfezionati. La principessa diqueste invenzioni si chiama «Cyberskin», similcarne ultrarealistica cheha superato il silicone medicale dei«pezzi» di generazione precedente.Mi vengono sottoposti due attrezzivirili semoventi e al mio anfitrionesembra impossibile che io non vedale differenze tra il modello economicoe quello premium. «Nelle applicazionipiù complicate come le “Realdoll” si usa ancora un altro materiale,capisce che quelle hanno un endoscheletroin alluminio con tutti glisnodi possibili, richiedono robustezzaoltre una consistenza gradualeche simuli perfettamente la carne».Passando tra gli articoli si capiscesubito che il «sex appeal dell’inorganico» divide in due categorie i suoi estimatori.Chi cerca supporti sintetici realisticivuole i pezzi del corpo a lui utilicreati in serie con silicone liquido colatoin stampi, possibilmente ottenutidalle pudenda di divi o dive del porno.
Un’altra tipologia d’utente pensache l’ingegneria «dildonica» abbiaraggiunto vette tecnologiche talmentefantasiose che tanto vale approfittaredella protesi non più umana.Un po’ come funziona per le gambeartificiali di tanti atleti alla Pistoriussi riprogettano parti del corpooltre i confini anatomici classici perprestazioni superlative. In questocampo gli «articoli» perdono ognicaratteristica indecente e possonoassomigliare a insetti alieni, o piantecarnivore come lo stimolatore«Wittle Wabbit» (30 euro), o nellastessa classe di prodotto, il «PassionFlower» o il «Lady bug».Qui la tecnologia Wireless spessofa da padrona, il congegno è telecomandabilea distanza per vibrare all’unisonodel proprio iPod. Il top èun ovulo vibrante che si attiva consms via cellulare, ma per chi sta moltoal computer consigliano un «pezzo» di anatomia femminile in gommacon connettore usb, è capace didialogare con un software che fa appariresul monitor quello che mancadella donna, è così forse nato il video«immersivo».