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Our Curation Process and Methodology
Only the best for our babes.
Shopping for sexual lifestyle products and lingerie is a deeply personal activity. We know that there are so many options available in the market with such wide variation in quality that trying to figure out what is right for you can be intimidating or overwhelming- particularly when shopping online. At Unbound, we realize the importance of reliable guidance in making informed purchases for these highly personal products. As such, we have invested in a robust curation methodology to ensure that everything we sell is of the highest quality and works the way it ought to. In product categories where we don’t find something we love that we want to carry, we seek to make it ourselves by working with manufacturers abroad or partnering with a top brand.
Our curation methodology has two main impacts:
- It limits the quantity of items we feature while maintaining a consistently high level of quality (i.e. we do not aspire to be a warehouse featuring every version of every product type, color, flavor etc. available. Rather, we aspire to feature only the highest quality products vetted by rigorous testing and paired with expert guidance to ensure that our customers have a consistently fantastic experience shopping with us)
- It allows us to bring together the best products on the market in experienced-based limited edition boxes while giving our e-commerce store customers piece of mind that every item featured was subject to our rigorous curation process.
Our curation process has four key pillars:
1. A consistent set of stringent product quality standards
2. Researching the best in class and most innovative products
3. In-house testing
4. Customer reviews
Before we even begin to consider evaluating a product for possible inclusion in our online store or subscription boxes it must meet a stringent set of fundamental qualifications:
- 100% Body safe: we do not sell products that contain harmful compounds such as phthalates or products that risk causing unanticipated physical harm because of their design.
- Aligned manufacturer ethos: we only source products from manufacturers that are pro-woman and body-positive (like us!). We do not source products that feature packaging or language that is offensive to women.
To ensure that our product offering reflects the best the market has to offer we continually conduct market research and scour for reports of emergent innovative technologies, new brands and other developments in the sexual lifestyle product, erotic accessory and lingerie space that may be of interest to our customers. Wherever possible we try to reference an average of 20+ articles per product to get a rounded out sense of reception from customers and influencers- specifically with regard to whether a product seems to work as suggested, how durable the product is, and whether the product has any unforeseen side effects (more relevant with bath and body).
We also leverage our relationships with established suppliers we trust (including such brands as Jimmyjane, Lelo, Crave) to stay abreast of the newest products they are rolling out.
Finally, we do the legwork of physically attending at least one expo or industry event per quarter to scout for new suppliers who are pushing the envelope with great new and interesting products.
Based on our research, we source samples of the best-reviewed products (in addition to select products that have not been extensively reviewed but are from trusted vendors) and compare them to like items in a predetermined category. We believe this comparative analysis allows our customers to have a better appreciation for which products are best in a given category, what the trade-offs are at different price points are and the value of features unique to specific products.
Every product category is reviewed by between 4-5 Unbound employees plus a contingent of external testers (we attempt to maximize the number of external testers for every given product category, though there is variation from product to product depending on the feasibility of sourcing samples). Every product tester evaluates items based on a standardized product category-specific rubric that includes some or all of the following considerations:
- Value for given high/medium/low price point (i.e., whether the product justifies its price point when compared with other products of comparable quality and functionality)
- Note: High = $70+, Medium = $30-70, Low = Less than $30
- Functionality (whether the product does what it claims to)
- Suitability to a range of body types
- Uniqueness / innovative features (if applicable)
After testers evaluate products based on the foregoing metrics, they are then asked to holistically consider those qualities to provide an overall evaluation of 1)how satisfied they are with the product on a scale of 1-10 and 2)how likely they are to recommend the product to a friend on a scale of 1-10. We only feature products that score a weighted average rating for both questions of 8 or higher. In the event that multiple product variants in a category score above “8” we elect to feature only the top 20% (e.g. if scores in a category ranged 8.1, 8.2, 8.3, 8.4 and 8.5 we would only feature the last item).
We firmly believe in the importance of transparency with our customers to help them understand why we love the products that we love- as such we try to display any and all relevant specification-related information for all products on our site, including a “badge” system for features like vibration strength, waterproofing etc so that our customers can easily make informed choices.
If we find fault with a product we always provide constructive feedback to suppliers to help them iterate even better products for customers in the future.
We further hone our curation process based on feedback from our customers. In terms of actively solicited feedback:
- We offer our customers rewards in exchange for objective product reviews
- Second, we send feedback surveys to customers after each subscription box launch, asking targeted questions regarding products that were featured that quarter
We also continually monitor unsolicited feedback from our customers via our customer service communications. Each quarter we consider all such information and revisit every single item in our store to determine if it should be retained or cycled out in favor of something better that has arrived on the market.
If a manufacturer releases an improved iteration of a product (e.g. We Vibe 4 vs We Vibe 3) we will refresh our selection to include the latest and greatest but only provided we deem more recent version to be objectively better per our standardized evaluative rubric. We firmly believe that any incremental price increase for a new version of an item must be justified by a commensurate improvement in quality.
NOTE: While we have always applied a curation methodology to selecting our product mix, we are currently rolling out this more rigorous approach to all of the product categories we carry (a process we expect to complete by the first quarter of 2017). Going forward we will continue draw on our primary and secondary research to iteratively reassess and refine our product offering in every category each quarter. We are, however, always open to suggestions from our customers about how we can improve our process:
For any questions regarding our curation process, consideration as a potential supplier or for queries relating to our product testing program please contact firstname.lastname@example.org