LOS ANGELES—In a project some two years in the making, the leadership team behind GameLink has created a new vertical marketplace for the pleasure products industry.
The progressive platform—called GLI.services—is designed to connect retailers, distributors and manufacturers in an effort to optimize the online shopping experience and increase operational efficiencies.
Magnus Sullivan, co-founder of GameLink and GLI along with his partner, Ilan Bunimovitz, told AVN at press time that four major retail chains with more than 125 stores already have joined their network, while multiple e-commerce sites are also on board. This cooperation enables GLI’s manufacturing partners to work with retail chains to build new “brick-n-click marketing strategies,” Sullivan said.
GLI’s partnerships with established distributors such as National, ECN and Honey's Place also gives them the capability to deliver a higher level of service that’s become expected by online consumers.
“We view our efforts as a critical part of elegantly transitioning the industry as the dynamics between retailers, manufacturers and distributors resettle in this new environment,” Sullivan said. “Most importantly, we think this model is an alternative to the impulse to sell through Amazon, where companies control neither their brand nor the customer.”
While executing a business model based heavily on their ability to grow their partners’ businesses, Sullivan and Bunimovitz have been providing state-of-the-art e-commerce solutions to the adult industry for more than 25 years.
The pioneering GameLink, founded in 1993, has long been one of the leading international online retailers of adult entertainment, fueled by its distribution agreements with top adult content providers and library of 100,000-plus titles in multiple media formats. Its video-on-demand solution is now integrated with its comprehensive indexing database and personalization tools, making the GameLink platform among the most sophisticated in adult.
GLI’s suite of services is designed to facilitate maximum industry collaboration. Among their offerings are the migration of customer, sales and product data; web and graphic design; catalog management; email marketing services; rewards programs; report generation; analytics support; affiliate sales platform; branded international fulfillment; SEO optimization; creation and management of promotions; and alternate traffic development consulting.
“Nobody’s really had a sense of, how do I go to market now in a way that is compelling for consumers but still doesn’t disrupt my relationships in the industry?” Sullivan reasoned. “We’re a hub—an aggregator and a hub. We understand the importance manufacturers have and retailers have, and we understand the operational skills that distributors have and the role that efficient distributors play in today’s space.”
GLI promises “first-in-class” e-commerce and tailored service that entails complete management of their online business to a model where GLI shares responsibilities with its partner. Sullivan said there is no up-front cost for GLI’s services and also no recurring fees. “We pay for hosting, email, creative services,” he noted. “We provide this whole layer of service that enables companies that don’t have those capabilities.”
While GameLink became known for their flagship VOD site, they have found success expanding their platform and services to brands that sell an assortment of physical products such as toys and lubes. They have done so while maintaining their value proposition—presenting the right products to customers in the timeliest way.
“We’ve migrated from content into increasingly novelties,” Sullivan said. “We realized it wasn’t enough just to have online stores. A lot of people create online stores. You have to have marketing in place that takes into consideration everybody’s existing role and existing value in order to compete.
“People that survive this transition will be people that have core skills and talent that they provide to the chain of sale. It could be a branded store, like Good Vibrations, or creating an experience in the store, or recreating experiences online that resonate with the customer.”
Sullivan continued, “We’ve basically put ourselves in kind of a unique position. We are aggregating retailers, manufacturers and distributors in order to provide their own unique value and create their own unique relationships in digital marketing in order to grow.
“We have integrated with a number of distributors across the country. It has to ship the same day—that’s the Amazon effect. People expect that. That’s been difficult to do. Distributors are pinched. We’ve been working with distributors and manufacturers to improve their ability to carry a broader assortment.”
Ilan Bunimovitz agreed, telling AVN, “We’re bringing value.”
“We’ve been able to create value for everybody,” Bunimovitz said. “We don’t have a cookie-cutter one store. With the way we looked at it, every store is unique. We’ve always been in the business of working with other businesses; we’ve been doing this for 25 years. This is a natural extension. We realize every customer is different; they have different needs. We can accommodate everybody based on who they are.
“We can create an online store for a brick-and-mortar chain that fits their personality, that fits their customers. … We can create the site that fits who the brand is and then we work with them in multiple ways.”
Bunimovitz said it wasn’t difficult to find partners for GLI, given their track record for growing their collaborators’ businesses and the trust factor that comes with it.
“We have a very unique position,” Bunimovitz explained. “We’ve been around for 25 years and we’ve created a lot of relationships. When you are around everybody knows everybody. People know if you’re good guys and people know if you’re a bad guy.
“One advantage we have is historically we’ve always been in a position of advising other companies how to better their business. It’s in our DNA to look at different businesses that are unique and try to find out what makes them special.
“We don’t look at it as one size fits all. We walk into the room and ask, ‘What makes you special? How can you survive being who you are?’”
Sullivan said GLI is not just an online store solution, it’s also a sales and marketing solution. By moving to GLI, businesses have not only increased digital sales, they’ve also cultivated new strategic relationships, he added.
“Relationships are important and we have those with a number of really important players in the industry,” Sullivan said. “It’s a testament to Ilan’s history. We invested very heavily throughout our own business. It would cost millions of dollars to build our infrastructure.
“We have a tech platform able to bring enterprise technology down to the boutique. We can bring a $20 million infrastructure and a suite a professional services that is way beyond your capabilities. … You all gain when you work together with us on this platform.
“Retail is not going away. People still like to walk into stores. We have to figure out a way to work with them in their environment. It’s not so easy to just to set up a really efficient, high-functioning fulfillment center. It’s not just something you spin up overnight. It’s a combination of capabilities and connections and timing and success.”
Good Vibrations president Joel Kaminsky knows what it takes to achieve that level of service.
“GLI is not just our online partner, they are our strategic partner. It’s that simple,” Kaminsky said. “They aren’t afraid to give us feedback, often volunteering solutions that we hadn’t considered. We know how to put things on the web, but it is about how the web compliments and amplifies our business. They ‘get’ that piece!”
So does Bob Christian, the director of new business development for PHE Inc., parent company of the Adam & Eve chain of retail stores.
“We are very careful about choosing our partners,” Christian said. “There are many reasons we’re still working together. GLI has not disappointed.”
Lee Negri, CEO of National Video Supply/Universal Distribution, compared teaming with GLI to “being part of a high-tech startup.”
“They see my operational capabilities as a huge asset and they bring out the best in us to meet the expectations set by major mainstream e-commerce platforms,” Negri said. “In the short time we've been working together, we’ve already cut a number of creative deals to improve marketing and operations between manufacturers and retailers. With GLI, I feel like we're the operational engine that drives customer satisfaction.”
The CEO of Male Basics, Raul Valencia, told AVN that aligning with GLI has expanded its client base.
“The great thing about plugging into the GLI marketplace is that we’ve suddenly got audience and shelf space with retailers we’ve been trying to develop for years,” Valencia said. “So yeah, they build great websites. But more important, they build great relationships.”
Meanwhile, Josh Porter, director of special projects for the Romantix chain of adult stores, explained that his team moved to the GLI platform about a year-and-a-half ago.
"We have seen consistent growth and positive additions to the site,” Porter said. “The team at GLI is attentive, creative and forward thinking. We have been very happy with the move, and look forward to long successful relationship."
While making deals with the big chains and manufacturers is essential, Sullivan noted that GLI is thinking a few steps further.
“The real win for us down the road is getting all the one, two and three-store shops across the U.S. on the platform. That’s when things get really interesting for everybody,” Sullivan said.
He added, “When people understand it’s not just a store, but a way of interacting with our partners and with our distributors, the conversation takes on a completely different tenor.
“These are not solitary businesses being hosted on a standalone platform, but related businesses in the same industry that can benefit from leveraging each other in the marketplace.”