Playboy Enterprises Inc. is getting back into the e-commerce game. And it’s doing it by selling tobacco and nicotine products, including electronic cigarettes.
The company last month launched PlayboyVapor.com, which sells disposable and rechargeable electronic cigarettes and hookah products. Shoppers receive a free three-pack of Playboy-branded condoms with every purchase, and shipping is free on orders over $100.
PlayboyVapor.com is the only e-commerce site the company is operating directly, and there are plans to add more products in the near future, a spokeswoman says.
Playboy was once a fixture in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, which ranks the 500 leading North American retailers by their online sales, but due to slumping web sales it has not been featured since 2011 when the company went private. Playboy Enterprises also owns PlayboyStore.com, but e-commerce services firm Delivery Agent Inc. has operated that site since early 2012 and says it is the official online seller of Playboy store merchandise.
Playboy expanded from magazine publishing and entertainment into e-commerce in 2004, selling women’s and men’s apparel, lingerie, DVDs and other branded products on PlayboyStore.com. Playboy’s online sales peaked at $64 million in 2007, then began falling. Playboy was ranked No. 203 in the 2009 edition of the Top 500 with $48.4 million in 2008 web sales, data on Top500Guide.com shows. The retailer fell to No. 268 in the 2010 edition with $37.4 million in web sales, a 23% decrease, and web sales declined 35% to an Internet Retailer-estimated $27.7 million in 2011.
In January 2011, Playboy accepted a $207 million offer from an investment group headed by company founder Hugh Hefner, which took the company private. The deal came roughly 18 months after a messy lawsuit against former e-commerce services provider eFashion Solutions, which Playboy said intended to cancel its service agreement with the company. Playboy dropped the lawsuit four months later after a settlement was reached with eFashions Solutions.
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