Consumers benefit from direct selling because of the convenience and service it provides, including personal demonstration and explanation of quality products, home delivery, follow-up and generous satisfaction guarantees. Moreover, direct selling is a professional channel of distribution for companies with innovative or distinctive products not readily available in traditional retail stores, or who choose not to compete with the enormous advertising and promotion costs associated with gaining space on retail shelves. Direct selling enhances the retail distribution infrastructure of the economy, and serves consumers with a convenient source of quality products and services.
There is a wide variety of products available through direct selling including household goods, home care, health and wellness, fragrances, cosmetics, skin care, personal care, financial products, among others.
Thousands of South Africans look to the direct selling shopping experience as it combines quality items, a personal touch from knowledgeable direct sellers and fun, memorable moments spent with family and friends at product demonstrations.
One of the benefits of shopping through direct selling is that you can touch, feel, and try the products in a relaxed and fun setting, and then decide if you want to buy. Take the opportunity to try various shades of blush, eye shadow and lip gloss in the comfort of your own home. Give that new dinner service a taste of your dining room table before you buy it. Match the colour and texture of the quality bedroom fabrics against your home colour scheme. Try out the new kitchenware. Enjoy the experience!
Home parties, party-plan, group presentations, one-on-one consultations, internet, social media platforms – there are so many ways to buy the wide range of quality products and services. The key to enjoying and benefiting the most from your buying experience is to work with knowledgeable and friendly direct sellers who can tell you about products or services, answer any questions, and let you and your friends peruse the items on display or in catalogues that can offer a wider selection.
It should be remembered that at no time are you obligated to buy, but chances are you’ll find a product or service that meets your needs and that you’d really enjoy.
In South Africa, a high percentage of direct selling takes place in a person-to-person manner. Direct sellers are happy to meet directly with customers, either at their homes or workplace, to discuss products or services, provide demonstrations, fittings or other assistance as needed. The items ordered are either delivered by the direct seller or via postal or courier delivery.
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. Guests use this opportunity to look at the variety of products displayed. In most cases, the direct seller will briefly introduce the products available and show samples or demonstrate the products to the group. Afterwards, guests have the chance to ask questions and place orders. As a thank you for his/her time and effort the host will often receive some discounted or free products and other specials from the direct seller, based on the total value of orders placed at the event.
Often, financial products are offered in this way with direct sellers inviting guests to attend a business presentation where the product overview is presented by an accredited advisor. The group presentations can be held in the company’s office premises, local community centres or at homes or offices. Also, products in the health and wellness sector are often presented this way.
More and more direct selling companies are offering consumers the benefit of on-line purchasing. This is either through the company’s website or via direct sellers personal Web pages (usually accessed from the company’s Web site). Customers who shop this way are likely to have been introduced to products or services by their consultant (direct seller) in the past, and often continue to place orders in-person or by calling their direct seller to place an order, in addition to some on-line purchases. The direct seller will still receive a financial reward for sales made online and will often follow-up to ensure you are satisfied with your on-line purchases. Even though you may purchase on-line, you still have the benefit of 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 and support is a key benefit to direct selling online.
Phone orders can be placed either through a direct seller, or directly through their direct selling company. As with online orders, this method is customarily used by customers who previously made purchases directly from their consultant and sales are generally credited to a consultant who can follow up with you after the sale.
Some companies have established centres where mainly direct sellers will go to place their orders for themselves and their customers, however, in some cases, customers are able to purchase directly from these centres. Although you may purchase from a centre, you still have the benefit of a helpful consultant who can provide knowledge and advice when you need it.
As part of their membership, DSA member companies are required to abide by a strict Code of Conduct that’s designed to protect consumers and direct sellers from unethical business practices. For a list of DSA member companies, refer to Member Companies.
The DSA’s Code of Conduct requires that the terms of a guarantee or a warranty, the details and limitations of after-sales service, the name and address of the guarantor, the duration of the guarantee or warranty and the remedial action open to the buyer, should be clearly marked on the product order form (or other accompanying literature). There is also a cooling-off period clause. DSA member companies have to ensure that their order form contains this clause which permits the customer to add, reduce or withdraw from the order within a specified period of time (not less than five working days from receipt of products) and to obtain reimbursement of any payment. The customer remains responsible for returning any products and for any cost related to the return of products.
If the company you are interested in is not a DSA member it’s even more important that you thoroughly check the Company and its product guarantees and warranties before doing business with them.