A marriage of online and offline shopping

 

Avon Cosmetics has recently launched a new digital platform in a bid to revolutionise the online shopping experience for its customers and to provide a flexible online business opportunity for its representatives.

The platform fuses social selling and social networking and the company says it means it can offer a marriage between offline and online shopping, “giving the customer convenience to shop whenever they want but with a personal touch”.

Each representative will now have their own online Avon Store for them to run and personalise to suit their customers’ needs with products being mailed direct to them or to local shops where they can collect them. The platform also has a training area with video tutorials where reps can earn certificates. Avon says it is has made the change in response to research showing a majority of women are looking to start their own business but that many give up as they are too scared to take the plunge. It hopes to inspire 50,000 new digital entrepreneurs to join the new platform.

Two people who have benefited from the new platform are Dawn Fazackerley and her mum Sandy Rice. Both have been Avon representatives for some time – Dawn recruited her mum to her team – and say the new online store is very easy to set up and personalise as well as allowing them to in effect earn while they sleep as their customers can post orders at any time.

It also means they can broaden their customer base as effectively the whole of the UK is now open to them through both the store and social media marketing. “It has opened up a new customer base,” says Dawn. “We know from research that there are around five million women in the UK who are interested in buying Avon Cosmetics, but cannot get hold of an Avon representative.” She adds that representatives will still also provide the personal door to door catalogue service as many people like this.

Family friendly work
Plymouth-based Dawn became an Avon Cosmetics representative in 2014. She started selling Avon products when her local Avon lady left. “I said to my mum I could do that for my friends and family. I joined up initially as a bit of fun. I never thought it was going to be what it has become and that I would have the success I have had,” she says.

She had been a bereavement counsellor specialising in complex grief and had very good communication skills. She had been combining that with a cleaning business and working in a department store at weekends.

She was keen to have work that fit around her two younger children. Dawn has three children, aged 25, six and five. “I wanted a job where I could put my family first and work the hours I wanted to work,” she says. “The ability to drop things when I need to put the family first, for instance, if my children are sick, is one of the most liberating things about Avon. And you can build your business as fast or as slowly as you want.” She adds that Avon is open to anyone and that some of the best reps are men. In her team several reps have health problems, but are still able to work and earn.

Within a few months of signing up, Dawn was a sales leader with her own team, Dawn’s Dream Team, which now has 70 reps and is recruiting across the UK. In the last year she has walked away from all her other jobs as she has been able to earn enough to do so. That means that she now has her weekends free. When she was working at the department store, her family time had been limited as her husband works full time over the week. She has also incorporated work with holidays. Recently she was recruiting reps in Cornwall and combined it with a family holiday in a caravan park. She says she wishes she could have started at Avon years ago.

Confidence restored
Her mum was one of the recruits to her team. Sandy Rice, who lives two miles away from Dawn, “got the Avon bug” from her daughter. She had had a long illness and had lost her confidence, having been very outgoing before. “Dawn kept saying to have a go and I said I would do it just for my friends and family,” she says. The business took off though, mainly through customers coming to her or spreading the word. She says she got seven people recommended by one customer.

Sandy had been a pastoral visitor for 12 years and helped out at local bingo events so had a good network of contacts and great communications skills. “I didn’t know it was in me to sell Avon until I started. I love doing it as it helps people to make the best of themselves and feel good and it gives them confidence. It brings light into their lives and personally it is like I am a brand new me,” she says.

She was a bit worried about going online as she only recently had an operation to improve her eyesight. “I was quite blind and have had several operations,” she says, “but the platform is very simple and my husband helps me with deliveries.” Seventy-two-year-old Sandy says Avon is about more than just being a shop assistant because it is very personalised. “So many people have lost heart. We show them how to use the products. It is beauty for a purpose. You watch them come to life,” she says. Her earnings are significantly less than her daughter’s – she earns around £100 in three weeks.

In addition to her mum, Dawn, who is 46, also gets her family involved in her work. Her 25 year old helps out with social media and she sometimes takes her children to deliver brochures. She says a lot of her clients are mums and it shows that it is possible to have a job that fits around the family. It also teaches her children a good work ethic. “It has been life changing for me in such a positive way,” she says. “It has made me more sociable. Many of my customers become friends. If you are a young mum at home it is a great way to get out and meet people in your community.”

*To find out more about Avon visit: www.avon.uk.com/become-a-representative





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