Despite a name that sounds noticeably modern, direct sales is one of the oldest forms of distributing inventory and bringing it to end consumers. That's due in part to how simple this process can be. The clear, straightforward nature of direct sales, where an individual purchases merchandise from a parent organization and sells them to customers, makes it broadly attractive. Individual entrepreneurs can leverage their network to make sales and grow their reach, while direct sales companies can cultivate a motivated base of salespeople and have no major distribution obligations beyond the bulk sale of products to those independent professionals.
For direct sales companies, a strong grasp of the current state of the industry is vital for developing deep insight into the many potential logistics challenges present in direct sales and their solutions. Let's look at some of the leading issues in this space, and how your company can successfully address them in an effort to provide the best experience possible for the independent retailers. Because these sellers leverage your name, they can have a major impact on the general public's impression of your organization and its products.
Keeping sellers fully stocked with accurate orders
While all businesses with an online sales component need to focus on efficient and error-free fulfillment, the stakes are higher for direct sales companies. Businesses that sell directly to consumers have many orders to manage, most of which are small in size. Although shipping an incorrect item can lead to a negative experience for the customer, it's often easy enough to respond to a return request – as long as the right tools and workflows are in place – and potentially offer a discount or similar deal as a make-good effort. Because only a single customer is involved in each instance, widespread ripple effects and a negative reputation are possible but not likely.
This isn't the case for direct sales companies, which have to supply independent distributors with orders that are often larger and eventually go on to many different end customers. In some situations, those individual consumers may have already placed orders with distributors and are awaiting the arrival of their purchases. If a direct sales business sends out an incorrect order, it can create a negative response on two levels – the distributor and end consumer – and cause many more problems than is likely with a single shipment to a single customer.
For this reason, accuracy in order management is especially important. And in cases where an incorrect order makes it way to an independent distributor, it's especially important to have an effective system in place for managing the return and promptly sending the corrected order to the seller.
Scaling direct sales logistics with industry growth
The direct sales industry as a whole realized 1.8% growth in 2018, according to the Direct Selling Association, and there are 1 million full-time and 5.2 million part-time independent distributors across the country. With direct sales on an upswing, it's especially important to have a logistics network that can perform capably now as well as in the future. A dependable partner with experience in the world of fulfillment can go a long way toward providing the support that's so critical for your company to take advantage of general industry growth.
If your organization has an eye on international sales or already engages in this process, strong logistics are even more important. Varying customs considerations, different rules for shipping and the compliance concerns that come along with them are all in play when your organization moves to tap into the many markets that exist outside the U.S. Finding the right fulfillment partner to manage such needs can help keep costs manageable and predictable while emphasizing a high and consistent level of service for independent distributors.
Managing e-commerce obligations
E-commerce is the most efficient way for direct sales organizations to receive orders from distributors, providing a 24/7 platform for these crucial players to order more products and bring them to their own customers. Companies that have a bare-bones e-commerce plan in place or struggle to fulfill orders in a timely fashion can encounter a variety of issues, however, and struggle to tap into opportunities for growth. Finding an experienced provider to handle these logistics issues can go a long way toward ensuring your e-commerce operations are as successful as possible.
Direct sales organizations reach a sizeable market of independent distributors, providing products that often aren't available through any other channel to a broad range of potential customers. To effectively leverage this enduring and unique component of the modern economy, and to take full advantage of growth opportunities domestically and abroad, a direct sales logistics partner can be vital. To learn more about how Landmark Global can help your direct sales company, get in touch with us today.