Direct Selling – Introduction

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Let me start with a definition. Direct selling, as a description of a channel of distribution and which I shall be examining and explaining in these pages. The obtaining of orders and the supply of consumer goods to private individuals away from normal retail premises, usually in their homes or places of work, in transactions initiated and concluded by a salesperson.

There is nothing new about the c oncept of direct selling; the supply of goods from a manufacturer directly to the users of those goods. It is the way in which most raw material, components, equipment, goods and services are supplied to industry and commerce. However, when it comes to consumer goods, we have all got rather too accoustomed to other channels of distribution.

There can be few chief executives of direct selling business who have not been asked, at some time or another, why, if their products are so good, they do not sell them in the normal way. They, mean of course, through retail stores. It is a fair question, and one that these pages aims to answer, but to start with, it is equally fair to ask why it is that we will accept retail stores as being the normal method of distributing consumer goods. To begin with, let us consider briefly the history of retailing.

From the middle ages onwards, as small communities grew into towns and cities, street markets gradually developed into retailing from fixed locations. Quite sophisticated retailing developed much earlier in Europe. As early as the thirteenth century, the Thibauts, in the French province of Champagne, exercised considerable political and commercial power through well-organized fairs, at specific times and places throughout the year, that sold a wide range of locally produced and imported goods.

By the sixteenth century, in The Hague, in Holland, retailing had reached the point where certain streets were designated for retailing of specific products and where retailers competed vigorously with one another.

Reference: Direct Selling: Richard Berry – Read More….