by / Thursday, 19 January 2017 / Published in Blog, Latest posts, Uncategorized

Can what works for Amazon work for Avon? Can Stella & Dot take a page from Williams & Sonoma’s book? Why should Jamberry look to Sephora?

The short answer is “Yes.” Despite a unique business model and salesforce considerations, direct selling brands share many of the same challenges as retailers, including:

  • Meeting the needs and behaviors of tomorrow’s customers
  • Driving conversion with inspiring & informative content
  • Better merchandising products
  • Establishing trust and confidence
  • Building long term loyalty

The long answer, is well … longer. As our CXO, Andrew Sirotnik, concluded in a recent blog post, “Shopping Is The New Marketing”. In other words, by adopting eCommerce best practices, direct sellers can also up their digital marketing game. Add familiarity to the mix and you have a slam dunk. Customers are familiar with the eCommerce formula. It is so imprinted in their daily behavior they have come to trust it and use it as the way connect with a brand.

Direct sellers have unique needs, such as recruiting new reps, supporting the salesforce and attributing sales. However, there are five eCommerce best practices they should adopt:

1) Be Like Your Customers, Mobile First

Almost 60% of retailer site traffic is from mobile devices. That is not surprising given that we look at our phones over 150 times a day and often turn to it first when completing a task. Mobile traffic doesn’t simply require a “smaller screen” however – it demands a different way of thinking. Mobile traffic represents “micro moments” during which a consumer may briefly attend to part of a task. This calls for a “mobile first” approach that the design meets “at a glance” needs and easy findability.

2) Better Merchandise With Robust Product Pages

Traditionally, a direct seller’s salesforce is the first exposure an end customer has to the brand and products. But that is changing. Sites are often the first touchpoint even if a sales rep “closes” the deal. Given the increasing importance of the site’s role, the product page is key to driving conversion. A  product page should engage, inform and convert without overwhelming. With strong imagery, clear benefit call outs, testimonials, reviews and supporting content, product pages can become the key to both direct commerce and supporting staff in the field.

3) Integrate Inspirational & Guiding Content Throughout

In order to connect with your end customers emotionally and arm them with the information they need to make good decisions, you need great content. From how to’s to testimonials to inspirational videos, compelling content needs to appear throughout the site to drive conversion. A modular approach can ensures that content can be integrated through the site, easily updated and measured. Content modules can also be leveraged for direct marketing offers.

4) Create A Continuous Journey By Connecting Touchpoints

Like retail, consumers move across touchpoints when making a purchase from a direct seller. They may start by googling “vitamins for energy,” while on their phone during lunch and then read an article on the Herbalife site on their laptop after dinner. After talking to a local rep in person, they may decide to try the brand and order on the phone. The path to purchase moves across channels and devices but it should be continuous and connected.

5) Build Loyalty With Personalized Attention Offline and On

The strength of a sales rep is the personal relationship they have with their customers. They know their unique needs and can guide them to the best solution. They know what articles would interest them, what offers would entice them. Like many retail sites, direct selling brands should introduce personalization that provides relevant product recommendations, content and personalized offers. Furthermore, this information can be shared with the sales rep and, in turn, reps can help inform the personalized pages for their clients.

Every brand is unique. Every vertical has specific challenges. But when we step outside of our direct competitive landscape and look at broader best practices, we can see that the mega trends of mobile, content, omnichannel, personalization and loyalty apply across verticals. That is because they are based on consumer needs, not brand needs, and consumers move across verticals too.