BUSINESSWEEK ONLINE : NOVEMBER 1, 1999 ISSUE
BUSINESS WEEK E.BIZ -- MANAGEMENT

Keeping the Channel Static Free


Direct-selling representatives are worried that online selling will cut them out of the loop. Here are ways the direct-selling companies are trying to keep them happy:

AMWAY
Opened Sept. 1, its massive Quixtar Web site is the most aggressive effort by any direct-seller, fielding 800,000 visitors in the first week. The vast majority are accessing the site using referral numbers unique to each of the Amway reps--which ensures the reps earn commissions. Amway expects less than 1% to come in without referral codes.

AVON
It vows to keep 95% of its sales with traditional Avon Ladies. It plans to allow reps to create home pages on the Avon corporate site, from which they will receive normal commissions. Hopes to encourage customers to use a rep by waiving shipping charges on Net orders placed through the representatives.

MARY KAY
It's focusing on improving the worklife of sales reps. For years, reps have complained about time-draining fax and telephone orders. Mary Kay's InSight Web site allows instant order-taking and confirmation. When a customer is ready to buy, they're sent to a rep, called a Beauty Consultant, who gets the commission.

TUPPERWARE
Stung by a 34% profit drop in 1998, the company is adding to its classic ''Tupperware parties'' by selling on the Net. Starting Jan. 1, cybershoppers will be able to place Net orders through their Tupperware reps. The danger: Online sales will be compensated at a yet-to-be-determined ''double-digit'' commission rate--lower than the one-third bounty typically paid for party sales.



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TABLE: Keeping the Channel Static Free



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