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BW Businessworld

Direct Selling: A Boon In The Pandemic Era

More than 50% of our direct sellers are from tier 2-3 regions who use their smart phones to reach out to prospective consumers and direct sellers through video conferencing and closing the business transactions through the robust mobile app.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to multi-faceted challenges such as breaking the virus chain, containing the potential spread of the virus, rising unemployment, and layoffs, the decline in industrial growth, and changing consumer demands. As many as 122 million Indians lost their jobs in April 2020, and India hit the highest rate of unemployment of 27.1 percent during April and May 2020, according to the Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy. Despite the recovery of some percentage noticed in June 2020, there are still many industries such as Leisure and hospitality, Educational Services, Real Estate & Construction, Entertainment, and recreation etc. with no guaranteed future for their employees. That said, the direct selling industry is the only industry in India to have successfully emerged as the dark horse, remaining largely unaffected by the pandemic and its impact on the business.

While there are multiple factors responsible for this, a paradigm transition from offline to online sales and amplified use of technology in this work-from-home era have been the biggest contributors. The emphasis on maintaining safety and minimum human intervention has prompted more and more consumers to shift to online platforms for purchasing a product, thereby increasing sales of the direct selling companies. Furthermore, the Honourable Prime Minister’s mantra of becoming Atmanirbhar (self-reliant) by being vocal for local has further boosted local manufacturing and it has had positive rub off on homegrown companies direct selling companies in India.

Some of the key factors that have made direct selling a successful selling module include: The entire business of direct selling, for the companies who had vision to invest in digital assets and technology, can be conducted via a screen without physical intervention. In times such as the coronavirus, this is the best option available for anyone looking to be a direct seller as the business is completely virtual in nature.

The migrant workers’ plight is unmatchable at this moment. With thousands who have returned to their native places or those who are not confident to go back to the cities again to start working again, direct selling has become a viable option. Associating themselves with a direct selling company can provide these migrant workers with income in any corner of India, as they can work from remote locations. More than 50% of our direct sellers are from tier 2-3 regions who use their smart phones to reach out to prospective consumers and direct sellers through video conferencing and closing the business transactions through the robust mobile app.

Direct selling can be a blessing at a time where a steady income is uncertain. It also has nearly zero capital investment involved and can be considered as a secondary source of income at a time wherein there are layoffs and increasing unemployment. Also, implementing a 360-degree online ecosystem can bring about absolute transparency in the company affairs, leaving little scope for complaints or errors.

In the current scheme of things, it is imperative for direct selling companies to formulate an action plan to ensure smooth flow of the business. Investments in technology to bring in ultimate convenience in business for distributors and user experience for consumers, creating awareness on the usage of products via online trainings and webinars, updating the applications used for direct selling in a timely manner and making use of digital touch-points such as social media and advertising to promote the products and its usage are some of the parameters that can help this industry to continue growing in these uncertain times.

In the end, it will be fair to say that the direct selling industry has proven time and time again that it can hold strong and survive even more turbulent economic cycles. The current times are no different and the legitimate industry players, operating according to the government-defined guidelines, offering negligible or zero investment, time & space flexibility and the simplified work process blessed by technological advancements are an ultimate ray of hope for millions of Indians and also for the Indian economy today.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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direct selling COVID-19 indian economy sectors

Sujit Jain

Founder, Chairman and Managing Director of Netsurf Communications Pvt. Ltd

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