Let’s look at the trends that convince me that some form of direct-selling is essential to rebuilding trust on resilient foundation that supports local participation in the global value chain.
- Mobile phones and logistics systems are bringing responsive supply chains to Main Street;
- Retail space is becoming dear and, since marketing can begin online, physical space is expensive to advertise effectively in order to gain foot traffic;
- Supply chains and customer experience are being radically reconfigured, freeing embedded expenses for other uses, such as sales compensation — brands can afford to establish local salesforces that were untenable only five years ago;
- An individual salesperson using a phone or PC to input data can collect more relevant qualitative and quantitative information about customers than anonymous online interactions, as well as get useful next actions from marketer-assisted AI;
- End-to-end attribution is possible when people take responsibility for relationships, keeping track of their commitments and using transparency to reinforce trust.
Pure online-only experience works for commodity products and services, but most forms of human interaction — from selling and handling delivery, installation, or returns, as well as building ongoing customer engagement to codesign more efficient products and services than exist today requires human contact. Technology must be augmented by human contact with people augmented with advanced logistics, machine-learning, and other automation. It’s why we founded Gig Economy Group.
Spurred by this comment on Fortune.com:
Brick-and-mortar retailers are already under attack by Amazon. Now, retailers must also worry about their wholesalers selling direct via the Internet. Retailers of tomorrow must find ways to replicate the customer experience that a direct seller can provide, and get critical feedback to suppliers so they can innovate and stay competitive. B2B suppliers will follow the customers and the money.