It appears that the top-ranked Direct Selling companies in the industry have solved all the problems with respect to network development, commission payments, business growth, margins and technology integration. But it is not so simple, these companies started with a great idea that was developed with a lot of effort, they made important decisions that led them to the top.
A Direct Selling business in 2020 has to integrate technology to keep up with the world and the customers. Technology and adaptability are essential to provide smooth experiences, and many decisions have to be made.
Today, we are starting a new series of publications on the Direct Selling Project, with the objective of guiding a company towards the successful implementation of technological processes. Technology can do a lot for your business, but you must be very aware that to make the right decisions you must carefully consider the process.
Requirements management as a key part of the projects
An essential aspect for the success of a digitization project in the Direct Selling industry is a correct, detailed and early definition of the business requirements. Think about all the information your project will need from all areas and all you will have to do to get it, you will have to use "Business Analysis" processes such as interviews, observation, construction of business cases and identification of new opportunities, you will collect the requirements that your project needs in flows, transactions, activities and details. Then, make sure that these requirements are reviewed by experts in each area, they will verify their needs and give you the green light to find the technological solutions that each one needs.
Process flows in a Direct Selling business
Remember that Direct Selling is a business model that should be attractive to you, as well as to all the consultants you have, in other words, you should think about them and the transactions they will have with each area of the company. In addition, you must consider the flows that your end customers will follow with the consultants and finally with you.
Business flows are the basis of the company's operation and the success of its processes. After identifying the requirements of each area as presented in the previous point, define the process flows and start the search for technology that can support them in an integrated and friendly way.
In Direct Selling companies, the fundamental flows of the business must be defined, including:
- UX and UI flow
- End customer and consultant enrollment flows
- Purchase flows
- Return and exchange flow
- Dispatch flow
- Customer service flow
- Commission payment flow
Once all the previous requirements, the business needs and the process flow have been defined, some key questions must be resolved to help you have a successful implementation project, of technological solutions in Direct Selling:
1. What will be your business model?
At this point you must be very careful, you need to know very well your customers, your products and your business goals, so you can propose the model that best suits your sales and the network you want to build: Catalogue Sales, Flat Sales, MLM - Multilevel Marketing, Binary, Hybrid Model, Party Plan.
In the following article of our blog, you can see a description of each one of the models and choose the most suitable one according to the specific characteristics you have: Business Models in Direct Selling.
2. What should I consider when structuring the compensation plan?
You must define a complete and clear financial model for commission payments, prize redemption, incentives, etc. Establish how payments received will be tracked and reconciled. It is important to create an attractive compensation plan, which contains ranges or levels of escalation, goals, which is motivating, which offers incentives, prizes, offers, gifts, motivational elements and also allows consultants/representatives to expand their social network. Keep in mind that your compensation plan must offer benefits to your consultants, but it must also be profitable for you.
Try to define benefits for your consultants that can have a sentimental value rather than a commercial value and thus ensure that your margin is not affected over time. See also: Fundamental Aspects in Direct Selling and Direct Selling Compensation Plans: Open Neck vs. Closed Neck.
3. In which country will your Direct Selling operation take place? in several countries? with different languages? with different currencies?
Define the operation of your business, in which countries you want to carry out your operation in the short, medium and long term. Once you have defined this aspect of your business, you can start researching legal issues that may be an obstacle within your implementation process.
Make sure you know the tax issues of the country where the company is located and the countries where you are going to operate, you must clarify these requirements very well to the Direct Selling Software provider and the payment provider that will support the process, this way it will be very easy to start managing your transactions.
In case you have operations in different countries with different languages and currencies, apart from being in sync with your software provider and taking into account all legal issues you should also consider the logistical implications.
4. Products for my Direct Selling Catalogue?
To start with the selection or development of the products, you must classify them by categories, by countries. You should define price lists, images, photographs and descriptions for the website and the catalogues. It is also important to define campaign frequencies, define which products will or will not be visible on the website and the customer segment you want to reach, for example, end consumer or consultant/representative. The definition of your product is a universe as big as your project and should not be taken lightly, it is the backbone of the business and therefore all decisions will be made based on this. Make sure you are clear about your product portfolio before looking for any solution to modernize processes.
Besides getting your products ready to be displayed in your catalog, website and/or e-commerce, you must estimate a time and generate some skus codes with which your products will be recognized internally, this is a partnership with your direct selling software provider.
5. Do I need a Direct Selling Website?
This decision should be made based on the sales strategy and business model you have initially defined. Nowadays it is essential to have an online presence, an all-channel strategy could make you reach more markets and therefore increase your sales.
In case you currently have a website, you should consult and define if the scope includes the migration of your current e-commerce or the creation of a new one, which would be integrated with the chosen Direct Selling Software, which will help you support the entire operation.
The website is probably your biggest and most powerful exhibition platform, for this reason you must define very well the design, content and user experience. Be clear about the sections of the site and their respective content: Home, Blog, About us, Contact, Products (E-Commerce), Join, Log In. To achieve this, you can get an external partner to help you generate the best possible online experience. In case you have the resources in-house, you must implement them from the beginning and in both cases you must communicate with your Direct Selling Software provider so that the design elements generated are compatible with the Direct Selling Platform.
You can read more about creating an e-commerce for Direct Selling here: E-commerce for Direct Selling, The New Tool For Your Company.
6. On which social networks should I be present with my products?
Nowadays the presence in social networks is fundamental for any business model, since consumers have migrated their purchasing preferences to the digital; today, it is very important to have presence in several channels, so that the target audience can be diversified and have a wider reach.
You can focus your efforts on certain social networks, check which ones your company has more presence in, which ones you want to give more emphasis to, and which ones you definitely consider that your target audience is not constantly browsing.
In the following articles you will find more ideas on how to include social networks in your business model:
Concepts such as Social Selling, Gamification, Influencer Marketing, Content Factory management, Community managers cannot be excluded from your project and you must consider them carefully to be successful in your technological process in the digital era.
7. How will the registration process for end customers and consultants be? (enrollment)
Create seamless experiences for customers and consultants.
First of all, you must define the type of people to whom you want to sell your products. Once you have established who your ideal customer is, you can think about what their enrollment process will be like, according to the compensation and benefit plans you have already structured. Don't forget to create the terms and conditions, keep in mind what information you will ask for in the enrollment, and if an initial investment will be necessary to become a consultant/representative. We recommend you to think like one of them, draw and review the process always thinking about your ideal client and/or consultant.
Take some time to analyze the characteristics that you expect to find in your ideal consultant, put them on paper and try to always keep them in mind, these characteristics will become the main values of your organization.
8. How will the purchase flow be?
Planning is very important in any project. Be sure to structure and understand the step-by-step process in advance, from order taking to invoicing, both in e-commerce and in the consultant/representative's virtual office. Define if you will have a minimum order amount, how the return cycle will be handled, keep in mind that you should look for a simple and fast process for the customer.
Define the type of orders that are handled, for example: through corporate e-commerce? Through replicated sites? Do consultants have their own virtual office? Are they recurring or auto shipping? Do you take orders from consultants and end customers through a call center? Orders in stores? In events? One or all? Define the way you will enable your customers to place orders and thus find the right resources for it.
9. What payment methods will I offer to my end customers and consultants?
The means of payment to be offered to the consumer depends on your company's business model. Different means of payment can be included such as debit/credit, transfers, cash, gift cards, crypto coins.
Search and analyze the online payment processors, so you will know specific topics such as costs per transaction, speed, security, anti-fraud systems, data integrity, percentage of use for the market to which the product is directed. These topics are essential when integrating with the Direct Selling Software, it is necessary to have these topics clear and be aware of the integrations that this Software needs to become the ideal ally of your business.
In case the product to be marketed has specific regulations, you must find the operator that allows you to receive payments without legal consequences and integrate them with your Direct Selling software provider.
10. What will your logistics process be like?
You should analyze the different companies that offer the logistics service in the country or countries where you are going to manage your operation. Define the service levels, analyze the costs and shipping conditions and check if you need to integrate the acquired software with the logistics system.
Be clear about inventory management, will you have points of sale with inventory? will it be delivered directly to the customer, to the consultant or collected from the store? Check the option of scheduled deliveries.
Currently you could send the product directly to your final customer and free your consultants from the entire logistics process, you would also be getting all the information from your final customer and in this way you could create subsequent marketing strategies that under a traditional Direct Selling Model would be difficult to obtain.
11. I need to provide good customer service; how will I do that?
Define the style of customer service you want to provide, and the flow that this service will have through different channels: chat, automatic welcome emails, order confirmation, invoice sending, birthday greetings, incident care, complaints and changes, among others. In this article we share excellent tips for your customer service processes: 10 Tips to Provide Extraordinary Customer Service
To carry out this customer service in the best way, you should develop previous documents that help you, the company, your consultants, to manage the attention given to their clients. You must create documents with frequently asked questions, predetermined documents with information on how to respond to common customer service situations (returns, products in poor condition, loss of the product, etc.), this along with well-designed templates for specific occasions, must be ready in your implementation phase to ensure from the beginning the satisfaction of your customer.
12. I need to analyze my data and information; how can I do that?
It is very important to have information and indicators online in a detailed, consolidated and historical way, for this reason you must define a series of reports or indicators that will allow the company to track its operations and customers on a daily basis. The Direct Selling Software must have this type of reports already available for its use.
13. Do I need integration with other software?
Analyze the workflows of your business model and identify where you require integration with other systems, which are part of the operation of the company. These can be payment processors, electronic invoicing, virtual wallets (for payment of commissions), logistics companies, ERP, it is essential that the Direct Selling Software is compatible and integrated with other platforms.
In conclusion, before defining a software provider, you must know very well your business, each parameter, your whole image, marketing, process flows, strategies and other aspects that are necessary in the implementation of the software project. The provider you choose will need all this information in order to deliver an excellent product that is adjusted to your particular needs and at the same time is scalable in time.
In a previous delivery we gave you some very important tips for the selection of the software provider, do not miss them here: 7 Things to Consider When Searching for an MLM Software in Direct Selling
S4DS is with you in your Direct Selling process
At S4DS we have the most complete solution to take your Direct Selling business to the next level, thanks to our experience in the market and the needs that we have been able to satisfy in our clients, we have developed all the necessary services to make your business successful:
Our software is not only an integral solution for your company and your clients, but we are part of the most important Direct Selling Associations in the world, which guarantees our services and quality.
Request your Free Demo to learn how our Direct Selling and Multilevel Software is the tool you need.