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The concept of door-to-door sales is going strong, especially in emerging markets, say Steve Van Andel and Doug DeVos, co-CEOs of Amway International. In fact, the direct-selling company their fathers, Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, founded back in 1959 does a robust $8.4bn in annual sales.
Today, Amway sells its more than 450 personal- care, home-care and nutritional products in 80 markets. Ninety 90 percent of its revenue comes from outside the U.S., with China accounting for the largest piece of the pie.
Of course, the road to an international sales base was not without speed bumps. The company had to customize its products, distribution method and manufacturing to navigate trade barriers and market needs. Its foray into China in 1995, for example, ran into a wall just three years later, when Chinese authorities banned direct sales, fearing pyramid schemes and possible religious and political dissent would spread door to door. Eventually, regulators relented, but by then Amway had swapped its direct-sales force for a "shops plus salesmen" structure that supplemented its entrepreneurial salespeople with more than 200 shops-a concept it has since embraced in other markets, including Latin America.
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