There is something unique about direct sales that neither traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, nor online virtual stores can provide to consumers. This century-old business model continues to be relevant in today’s virtual world, finding a spot between traditional “mall shoppers” and “early adopters” of the online shopping experience. It has found a niche founded on a mix of buying without the pressure of a sales rep; doing so in the comfort of a friend’s home; touching, feeling and trying the product; and supporting a friend or family member who decided to become an entrepreneur. Our recent survey on the state of the direct sales industry found that the majority of consumers have made at least one purchase through direct sales and many are familiar with the leading brands in the industry. It’s clearly, then, not a matter of direct sales relevance, education, or brand recognition, but further engaging current buyers and converting new ones. So while the channel remains relevant, the road ahead is filled with major challenges.
It is clear that for Direct Sales companies to be sustainable in the future, they must be flexible enough to adapt to the tastes and shopping trends of the new customer realities. As we continue to guide our consumer products clients in the evolution of the consumer shopping experience and the digital path to purchase, we can see a viable play for Direct Sales. But their traditional approach may not be sustainable unless significant changes are made in their go-to market approach, technology and operational execution.