For more than six decades, the Amway business has been growing in our hometown of Ada, Michigan, and throughout the 100 countries and territories where we operate around the world. While the business has succeeded across cultures and consumer tastes, we have spent a significant amount of time learning how to do a better job at meeting the distinct needs of our customers. One of the most important parts of this journey has been our continued partnership with Independent Business Owners (IBOs) and our efforts to help them be successful.
Spirit of Entrepreneurship
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well despite so much uncertainty facing the direct selling channel and economies worldwide. Across the channel, we have seen leaders figure out new ways to reach customers, create value, and support their teams. The one element that ties it all together is entrepreneurship.
We are surrounded by entrepreneurs who are gritty, resilient, and able to see past obstacles quickly. They are motivated by being in an environment with like-minded people. These core qualities of entrepreneurs have allowed direct selling companies to move through difficult times—and both the customers and the communities they are supporting have taken notice.
Not only have we seen great ideas come from the entrepreneurs within our channel, but we have witnessed our own employees come forward with ideas to help within our community. I saw this firsthand last spring when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. Many selfless members of the Amway family wasted no time in thinking of creative solutions to lend a hand. It started with Project Light Speed, where a cross-functional team of approximately forty Ada-based employees worked quickly to respond to our local health care system’s urgent need for hand sanitizer. Within one week of the project’s kick-off meeting, 145,000 units of hand sanitizer were donated to hospitals, public service organizations, and non-profits. It is truly incredible to have an organization full of people who are thinking about how to always help the community, and to live our vision of helping people live better, healthier lives.
Making It Easy
What is so special about the direct selling channel is that it provides opportunities for people to build their own businesses, and it provides an experience that customers cannot get anywhere else. It is a high-touch industry that allows for direct contact and personal relationships. That is one important reason direct selling has a greater advantage over many other industries.
While the channel does have its challenges, creating an opportunity for people to make extra income should not be one of them. It is our goal to solidify Amway as a magnet for the next generation of entrepreneurs, and we are working to make it ten times easier for IBOs, especially new IBOs, to earn extra income while building communities and following their passions for beauty, fashion, adventure, cooking, or wellness.
One trend we have been paying attention to is the acceleration of digital. According to a McKinsey report, e-commerce saw ten years of growth in three months due to the pandemic. And we are not regressing into the old ways of doing business. The digital divide has truly been crossed by all.
Over the past year, we have seen our IBOs embrace digital and e-commerce like never before. The entire business, including all demographic segments, has completely transformed. We have witnessed this business transform, from how business transactions occur to how sales are being made to customers. We are watching digital play a role in how sponsoring has occurred and how leaders train IBOs. It has even transformed the way we unite our community of customers and sellers together.
We have also seen how platforms play a part in this acceleration. It is not just social platforms, the web, or apps. It is the way they all work together to create a positive and memorable customer experience. It is also the way IBOs think about and take advantage of technology to achieve their goals. Keep in mind, like any business, not everyone has made this transition, but many have. We have worked hard to bring them tools and ideas about how to be more effective in the businesses they build. And we are working alongside our leaders to identify how to take advantage of digital in a way that satisfies customers and helps our newest IBOs be more successful, sooner.
As much as direct selling has been transformed by technology, customers are still hungry for a personal connection and the credibility that comes along with it. The genuine interaction created when people embrace advice and recommendations from someone they know creates so much more value than the traditional retail model ever can. For example, when a seller introduces a new product to a friend, they are providing a solution to someone who trusts and respects their opinion and knowledge. Every brand wants trust and credibility, but the personal connection makes direct selling unique from anything a big company can ever do. There is no CRM that could ever compete with the friendship of a direct seller.
In just 24 hours, Amway initiated Project Light Speed—A cross-functional team of more than 40 local employees who developed an immediate action plan to repurpose on-site raw materials and produce approximately 145,000 units of Amway hand sanitizer.