Hybridizing Sales: In-Home, Retail, and E-Commerce Mixed by Humans

Local On-Demand Services need people representing brands and, importantly, customer experience. At Gig Economy Group, we are building tools to extend personal selling. We debuted at the Direct Selling Association Conference with LifeVantage, our first commercial customer. After speaking with Eazl‘s Davis Jones about this idea, he riffs smartly on it in this video.

Here’s the latest on the growth of direct sales, which is one important trend that we think defines a new hybrid sales experience: People in local markets will represent brands, manage service delivery, and sustain customer trust using e-commerce platforms and, even, retail strategies. But it will all converge on the home as the market consolidates its move toward in-home delivery.

18.6 million people in the U.S. were involved in direct selling during 2017.

5.6 million individuals were involved as business builders in 2017 and of these:

.9 million were full-time business builders;

and, 4.7 million were part-time business builders.

13.0 million individuals were discount customers.

Global direct selling increased year over year in 2017 from USD $186.7 billion to USD $189.6 billion; and U.S. direct selling was down slightly from $35.5 billion to $34.9 billion.

Source: Change Presents Opportunity for the Direct Selling Association as it Launches the “Year of the Independent Contractor” | Business Wire

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Instacart Adds Retail, Couponing, and Voice Services

Instacart is dramatically expanding the services it can offer retailer customers with its $65 million acquisition of Unata, a Toronto-based developer of retail software. Bloomberg and TechCrunch cover the details of the deal. Why does it matter?

On-demand companies traditionally focus on the last-mile, putting people to work delivering and providing services to the home. However, Instacart is acknowledging with this acquisition that it needs a larger role in retail. Unata will provide Instacart with retail storefront software that, we expect, will eventually be integrated with Instacart human services. 

Instacart is hedging its bet by deepening its retail services offerings. Integration with logistical and messaging tools, such as voice, can be tied into consumer solutions expressed as a “skill.” Voice combined with couponing capabilities would allow a product request made to a smart speaker to take a grocery order and offer better pricing or coupons when alternative options are available, then organize delivery in the background. Instacart a separate upsell to retailers, another stream of revenue in the face of competition in on-demand. 

Amazon’s looming retail presence should not be a short-term concern for Instacart, as the Seattle retail giant has not (yet) mastered on-demand services. Instacart could change its revenue mix, moving to emphasize retail services with on-demand humans subsidized by software in order to win market share. 

Amazon is big in online sales, but still only four percent of retail in U.S.

It was a very good holiday season for Amazon, with growing sales and the massive adoption of Alexa-enabled devices. However, keep in mind that after all this success and 20 years of investment to get to 44 percent of online commerce, Amazon still accounts for only 4 percent of U.S. retail sales in 2017. This suggests there is lots of room for growth at Amazon, as well as plenty of inroads for challengers to pursue. We think the brand service experience will be a keystone of expansion as Amazon enters the neighborhood. Target isn’t the solution for Amazon’s local challenge, but Target’s salespeople may be useful to the project. How to get those Target people out of the store and into the market, that is the question.