Learn whether it could make business simple for everyonePublished on 7 April 2022
You are probably familiar with this situation: while scrolling through your social media feed, you come across posts from your friends and family members. They are not only reviewing the products they have been using with full confidence but have also started promoting and encouraging others to do the same. From skincare to dietary supplements and even home appliances, direct selling has been taking centre stage recently.
However, consumers have several reservations when it comes to direct selling as it is often compared to other methods with a bad reputation like multilevel marketing (MLM). MLM involves selling products to family and friends and recruiting other people to do the same. Many who join legitimate MLMs make little or no money. In some cases, people believe they’ve joined a legitimate MLM, but it turns out to be an illegal pyramid scheme that steals everything they invest in and leaves them deeply in debt.
The bad reputation of MLM has led to negative perceptions of the idea of direct selling. Before we are blinded by prejudice, let’s dive deeper into what direct selling is about and why it could still be considered as an effective business model.
What is direct selling?
Fundamentally, direct selling is the selling of products directly to consumers in a non-retail environment. These sales take place at home, at work and in non-formal settings. The goal is to encourage the consumer experience; the brand wants potential customers to discover the quality of their products not from their marketing campaigns or paid reviews. Rather, they would like their consumers to experience it at firsthand through honest testimonials from existing customers.
According to Datuk Tan Chong Guan, President of Direct Selling Association of Malaysia (DSAM), the revenue generated by direct selling in 2020 was RM17.8 billion, a 20% increase from 2019 despite the limitations imposed amid the global pandemic that crippled several industries. The ongoing pandemic encouraged many to digitise all aspects of their business, and this includes direct selling.
Is the digital transformation effective?
Moving direct selling online creates an authentic customer experience. Unlike face-to-face direct selling where one is surrounded by like-minded people echoing the same opinions, there is more feedback and criticism for every service or product marketed online, resulting in a more genuine review. This also means that MLM products that were previously seen as without vice are now brought into public scrutiny too. Silencing the masses would only mean dishonesty, and potentially drive negative sentiments and garner backlash against the brand.
This is great news, especially for those who are looking for a side income. They no longer must go for endless training sessions or workshops to sell a certain product nor is there the usual expenditure for hosting potential customers in your homes or at cafés. There are virtually no entry barriers to conducting direct sales, especially if it is conducted online.
Community and trust building are all it takes for others to be convinced of your products. This includes forming a community through the creation of groups on social media, posting candid content of genuine reviews as well as creating advertisements according to your target audience.
For mothers, this means there are no set number of hours per week to fulfil, hence they can continue their responsibilities while earning income. For those with a full-time job, sales can be done naturally and because of pure interest without expectation to perform.
Now everyone can be an entrepreneur
However, although direct sales and MLM have some common traits, they are not the same. The business model for direct selling consists of independent contractors, thus removing the requirement to increase team members or report to upper management.
Pro tip: One way to effectively expand your reach when doing direct sales is to utilise Yellow Pages, a one-stop digital platform which has a feature called Buy & Sell. You don’t even have to pay for registration. Once you sign up, your business will become part of an ecosystem of established brands, allowing customers to find your offerings easily and conveniently.
Selling directly to consumers is becoming an appealing way of generating income for many to the point where it is now an essential part of e-commerce. People can experience financial freedom and work-life balance because of its flexibility. The future of entrepreneurship is no longer dominated by who can pump the most money into marketing a particular product but through sellers who are human like you and me who have tried and tested it ourselves.
It’s never easy starting a business all by yourself. Consider unifi Business Club (uBC) for a seamless digital journey. Tap into uBC’s ecosystem that boasts cutting-edge marketing solutions, professional and premium support as well as a myriad of resources that connect you with business peers.