The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) estimates that direct retail sales totaled $183.7 billion in 2015. This is a mind-boggling number, and other stats are reinforcing the fact that it’s been growing ever since. With the sheer volume of products being sold through direct selling, it’s not surprising that technology is playing a role in growing awareness of these brands and helping their independent reps reach more buyers. But aside from spreading general awareness, there are further ways in which tech (and social media specifically) is being used as a tool to progress this business model. Here are a few of the ways.
A big part of the draw of social media platforms, especially visually-centered ones like Instagram, is being able to see others’ lives in pictures. Amway is a company that caters to this fascination by filling its Instagram feed with inspiring and useful posts that offers glimpses into its Independent Business Owners’ lives. The playful and uplifting posts might seem casual or even impromptu, but there’s no doubt careful planning has gone into setting the tone for the brand’s social media channels.
By taking advantage of the visual focus of Instagram, Amway is able to a paint a cheerful, contented picture of its business owners’ lifestyles and tie in the ways in which their products (and business opportunities) are helping them achieve such quality of life. It’s a very rewarding way to use technology, as it inspires and motivates potential customers and prospective Independent Business Owners alike.
Another way in which technology is a great aid to those in the direct selling business is because of the way it can offer support 24/7. Stella & Dot is a jewelry business that is built on multi-level marketing principles, and distributes its inventory through independent “stylists.” The company uses the pervasiveness of technology to supply its stylists with on-the-go training, including step-by-step guidance for things like building their websites, making calls and setting up trunk shows. The company also created an iPad app to enable stylists to place orders in real time and show an array of product images when meeting with customers. All of this support helps stylists get answers to their questions anytime, and ultimately become more successful.
DoTERRA is another example of a direct selling company that offers digital support to its consultants. There are entire pages on the brand’s website devoted to giving consultants social media assets and fun verbiage that are ready to be used on their own personal social media profiles. This helps doTERRA representatives spread the word creatively and with beautiful imagery they didn’t have to spend time creating themselves, thus intriguing more customers in a snap.
Finally, what good is social media if it doesn’t further sales? Many direct selling companies are using social channels in order to close sales, like LuLaRoe. Fashion Consultants from this comfortable fashion line are using tech opportunities like Facebook Sales Groups in order to live-stream periodic sales and move their inventory.
While it’s clear that direct sales companies are using social media in order to interest new representatives and compel buyers, there’s always room to embrace technology in new ways as well. It will be exciting to see how progressive technology in mobile, artificial intelligence and beyond begin to be incorporated into the arsenal of direct selling company’s strategies in the future.