Indian firms have jumped on the bandwagon with promising results

With global direct selling companies facing challenges in the Indian market due to regulatory issues, domestic players are keen to cash in on the ₹10,000-crore opportunity.

Companies like Juvalia & You, Pipa Bella, Aaroh Unicepts, HLM Retail and Future Group’s Big Bazaar Direct use technology to reach out to customers and sell directly through online channels.

Cutting out middlemen

Direct selling is marketing and selling products directly to consumers, away from a fixed retail location. The direct selling market in India, growing at 10 per cent annually, is currently dominated by international players such as Amway, Oriflame, Avon and Tupperware. However, these companies have been facing growth hurdles, with the Government yet to come out with clear foreign direct investment norms, governing their operations as direct sellers.

Building a reputation

These firms also have to battle an image problem - that of being mistaken for multi-level marketing firms, which have often been accused of running ponzi schemes and fraudulent chit funds. However, the confused scenario has provided an opportunity for domestic players to step up their presence.

Major moves

Retail giant Future Group launched Big Bazaar Direct, a franchisee-based direct selling model, last year. Franchisees personally visit consumers and take orders for products on tablets. They plan to have 1 lakh franchisees this year. Delhi-based Juvalia & You, formed in 2012, has so far enabled 50,000 women direct sellers, who rake in over ₹1 lakh each month by selling fashion jewellery at affordable prices.

Good as gold

Juvalia’s founder Chaitanya Agarwal said his sales force uses tablets for real-time orders, sales and reports. The company is also considering establishing an online Juvalia University, for training its sales force.

Juvalia is in the process of doing a pan-India roll-out of its direct selling business and is also setting up satellite offices across the country.

Shuchi Pandya, co-founder of Pipa Bella, said the world has become smaller, with technology enabling direct selling. “Many women are now shopping online, and have social media accounts,” she said.

(This article was published on March 12, 2014)
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