Avon Justine MD Mafahle Mareletse. Picture: SUPPLIED
Avon Justine MD Mafahle Mareletse. Picture: SUPPLIED

Beauty products maker Avon Justine has ramped up its digital platform by enabling its resellers to open e-commerce sites.

Like many companies, Avon was hit by the Covid-19 lockdown, which halted trading for its sales representatives to sell their products, with the bulk being done physically.

Since 2019, Avon has been investing in digital platforms with the launch of an e-commerce website and a mobile app to make it easier for its resellers, called beauty entrepreneurs, to sell products.

The company has developed a personalised website for its resellers, and has provided them with free online digital marketing training as well as related tools to help them promote their businesses on social media.

Avon Justine MD Mafahle Mareletse said one of the biggest behavioural changes that was bought about by the lockdown is that it accelerated the adoption of digital services.

He said the high penetration of smartphones in SA put direct selling companies such as Avon in a favourable position to offer an opportunity to millions of people who are displaced from their work, or whose salaries have been reduced. He said it gave them an opportunity to leverage the ubiquity of online services to earn and supplement their income.

SA’s unemployment rate increased to 30.1% in the first quarter of 2020.

“We strongly believe that as internet penetration grows and data prices become more affordable, so will the uptake of e-commerce in SA,” said Mareletse.

In April 2019, Avon unveiled an ambitious plan to recruit 500,000 resellers in SA by 2020 as part of its drive to grow its local business and promote entrepreneurship.

While the company could not divulge the figures it had reached, Mareletse said the recruitment drive had been aggressive since the lockdown was lifted, especially given the acceleration in its digital investment.

A recent research report from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Co estimates that the beauty industry will see a 20%-30% increase in online sales as a result of Covid-19, though this may not be enough to offset big drops in sales at physical stores.

Avon sales representatives can earn up to 30% of the value of the goods that they sell. Those that have moved to full-time independent sales leaders for Avon, whose roles include recruiting and training a team of other representatives, collectively earned $273.5m (about R5bn) in 2019. Avon’s global independent sales leaders make up 4% of the representative base.


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