Ways to Shop
You can buy products and services from direct selling companies in a number of ways. Here’s a list of some of the most widely used.
The party plan method, most commonly associated with in-home parties, offers friends, family members, co-workers and other groups a fun and relaxing way to get together and shop. In most cases, the party host is responsible for inviting guests, providing light snacks and securing a venue to hold the gathering – usually in his/her home. On the day of the party, guests arrive and mingle and might use this opportunity to peruse products and services displayed. In many cases, a consultant will briefly introduce the products and services available, and provide samples or demonstrations to the group. Afterwards, attendees have the chance to ask questions or place orders. As a “thank you” for her time and effort the host will often receive discounted or free products and other specials from the consultant.
Many consumers are surprised to learn that the party plan method of selling didn’t begin until the 1940s. Even today, nearly 70% of all direct sales take place in a person-to-person manner. Consultants are happy to meet in private with customers to discuss products or services, provide demonstrations, fittings or other assistance as needed. The items orders are either shipped directly to the customer or delivered by the consultant.
Most direct selling companies offer consumers two ways to shop online. The first is through a consultant’s personal Web page, which can usually be accessed from the company’s Web site. Customers who shop this way have more than likely been introduced to products or services by their representative in the past, and often continue to place orders in-person or by calling their consultant. If you don’t already have a consultant you can often enter your location or zip code on the company’s main Web site and a knowledgeable consultant will contact you directly. The consultant will still receive a commission for sales made online.
In some cases, customers can shop directly from a company’s Web site. This is less common and sales are still usually credited to a representative in your area who will likely follow up with you to make sure you are happy with your purchase.
The key thing to remember about online purchases is that you still have access to a helpful consultant who can provide knowledge and advice that just can’t be matched in a more traditional retail setting. Having this kind of access 24/7 is a key benefit to direct selling online.
Some consultants choose to sell products or services from retail kiosks, usually located in shopping malls or other high-traffic areas. These are generally run by the consultants, not the companies, so don’t be fooled into thinking your favorite direct selling company has gone retail! In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll find your favorite in-store brand coming to a living room near you as many retailers are discovering the appeal of direct selling’s personal touch.
Phone orders can be placed either through an independent consultant, or directly through the company. As with online orders, this method is customarily used by customers who previously made purchases directly from their representative and sales are generally credited to a consultant who can follow up with you after the sale.