The Future of Direct Sales Is Bright!
In a world where retail sales and well-known brands seem to be collapsing on a daily basis, one could certainly question the future of direct sales as a viable channel. It’s easy to look at the world around us, note all the technological advances and demographic changes, and wonder whether direct sales will eventually become an outmoded form of commerce as well.
I believe that the future of direct sales will actually be brighter than ever if we seize the technical and demographic opportunities that are already before us and those that are just around the corner.
Emerging Technology Could Help Our Cause
We are not far from a day when you’ll be able to watch a movie on Netflix, notice the cool jacket the lead actor is wearing, pause the movie, click on the jacket, and see information about where you can buy that exact jacket. Perhaps you’ll even be taken to a shopping cart where you could make that purchase.
What will it take to make this happen? It’s just a matter of people creating the needed metadata and coding it into not only movies and TV shows, but also video content of any kind.
Any time our products are present in digital media, there’s no reason we can’t also add the metadata that connects the viewer with a shopping cart or a distributor near them who can sell them that same product. The initial step toward this end should be found in our own demo and training videos.
Changing Demographics Mean Changing Sales Forces
There are also some demographic trends that seem to pose a challenge to the direct selling model. But when you take a closer look, I think you’ll agree that they actually present us with great opportunities.
We’ve written before about how Millennials, by and large, differ from their older counterparts. Members of previous generations were more likely to want to build direct sales businesses. They were in it for the long haul, slowly and carefully building networks of contacts in the hopes that they could someday generate full-time incomes from their work.
Millennials, on the other hand, are typically more interested in having satisfying short-term experiences. Generating enough income to buy a new iPhone. Paying the rent. Saving up for a fun weekend at the beach.
Despite its appearance on the surface, this isn’t a threat to the future of direct sales—it’s an opportunity for us to present distributorship as a means of generating quick cash in our new “gig economy.”
There’s another trend developing at the other end of the aging spectrum. Thousands of Americans are hitting retirement age every day. A staggering percentage of them have little or no retirement savings.
This won’t stop workers retiring from their primary careers—but they’ll need some kind of work to help support themselves in retirement. Automation is eliminating many of the part-time jobs that otherwise would have been available to these workers.
Have you ever been to a fast food place where you punched your order into a kiosk rather than talking with a human worker? More of that kind of automation is coming soon.
What does this mean for the future of direct sales? Well, we’ve been seeing our industry shift slightly from a realm dominated by middle-aged people to a younger person’s way of generating some quick cash. But we may soon see the graying of our sales reps and the trend of youth reversing strongly.
After all, a retired person may not be interested in the most physically demanding part-time jobs, but she may be more than willing to sell products to an extensive network of friends and relatives. It provides an opportunity to stay connected, do something of interest, and perhaps be able to travel as they do so.
The Future of Direct Sales: Personal Connections Win the Day
Technology is certainly changing our lives. Just look around and you’ll see more and more industries using predictive analytics, automation, and artificial intelligence to better serve their audiences and make more sales. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s missing an element that only direct selling can provide: a personal connection. No amount of data can replace a network full of trusted personal relationships.
The future of direct sales will certainly include more and more technological innovations that help us keep pace with our competitors that sell through conventional channels. Let’s not lose sight of what makes us unique. Networks of people, relationships of trust, and high quality products are a powerful combination in any sales channel and in any generation.
Regardless of the next steps in your direct sales journey, Thatcher Technology is here to help you every step of the way. Thatcher is the most configurable, scalable, and value-driven solutions provider in the industry. Our applications are continuously updated to meet the changing needs of direct sales companies with a constant focus on building environments that help you do more. Let us help drive the future of direct sales for your company–you’ll be glad you did.