The World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) published its annual report recently which showed that more than 125.4 million people are involved in the direct selling industry in over 170 countries worldwide. After more than two years of adapting to the realities of the pandemic, direct selling has proven to be an agile and resilient industry.
In the last two years, as the pandemic ravaged the world, direct selling was a source of in-demand products such as health, wellness, and personal care. The pandemic also created new consumer behaviours. People have been forced to live differently, and as a result, they are also shopping differently and spending their time differently.
Staying indoors has naturally increased the need for online shopping, spending on self-care, mental health and physical wellness, and learning new things. All this has resulted in rapid changes in behaviour that would have otherwise taken years. The instability of jobs, combined with the fear and stress brought on by COVID-19, has also led many people to look for alternate sources of income.
This is the need that direct selling companies like QNET have tapped into. With its wide range of offerings in health, wellness, lifestyle, and education categories, all conveniently available through an e-commerce platform which also provides a micro-entrepreneurship opportunity through its direct selling business, QNET has seen a significant uptake in its product and business offerings in recent times, especially in the sub-Saharan Africa region.
QNET is one of the region’s fastest growing e-commerce based direct selling companies which has a global footprint of customers and distributors in nearly 100 countries. We spoke to Biram Fall, the Regional General Manager of QNET for the Sub-Saharan Africa region to understand why the Direct Selling Industry is so attractive to micro-entrepreneurs and the attributes one needs to make it in this business.
Q: Can you give us an insight into what is direct selling?
A: Direct selling is a retail channel used by various businesses across the globe; top global brands and smaller entrepreneurial companies alike use direct selling as a method to market products and services to consumers. These companies operate in a wide array of industries including luxury goods, personal care, home and living, energy, insurance, and much more.
Direct selling, as a sales channel, differs from traditional business-to-consumer (B2C) retail, as it incorporates an additional aspect to the sales experience – it is not solely focused on getting great products and services into consumers’ hands, but an avenue where entrepreneurial-minded people can work independently to build their own business with relatively low barrier to entry.
Direct selling distributors work independently in affiliation with the company, which gives them the opportunity to retain freedom in running a microenterprise on their own terms while also cutting out the need to source and manage a lengthy supply chain. Distributors forge strong personal relationships with prospective customers, which is primarily through face-to-face discussions and demonstrations.
In the digital age, social networking is easier and more effective than ever before. Direct selling is quickly becoming a go-to market strategy that, for many companies and product lines, may be more effective than traditional advertising or securing premium shelf space. In fact, direct selling through effective social networking is an ideal incubator platform to catalyse a go-to market strategy for micro-entrepreneurs.
Q: What is QNET all about?
A: QNET is a direct selling company that was started in 1998. While the company has an Asian heritage, our business has a global footprint. Our wide range of high quality and exclusive products are designed to help people live a healthier, holistic lifestyle, and our business opportunity helps aspiring entrepreneurs improve their livelihood.
In the last 24 years, hundreds of thousands of customers in nearly 100 countries have benefitted greatly from our products and services, and the QNET business opportunity. QNET is headquartered in Hong Kong, and has offices and business agency partnerships in more than 25 countries. In this region, our West Africa regional office is in Côte d’Ivoire.
Q: How does the QNET business work?
A: QNET’s direct selling business is straightforward. We reward our distributors for selling the products they use and love. The more products they sell, the more commissions they earn. The only way to earn an income with QNET is through product sales. When someone purchases a product from QNET and decides that they also want to take advantage of the business opportunity offered, they register as an independent representative (IR) of QNET. This makes them a distributor of our products. They then promote these products and their benefits to their friends and family and if these people purchase the products using the referral ID of the existing distributor the sale is attributed to them.
QNET uses a compensation plan that calculates commissions payable to the IR based on the sales volume generated through these successful sales referrals in our e-commerce portal. Many entrepreneurial people have taken advantage of our business model to build a sales team and earn a supplemental income.
Q: There have been many reports about QNET agents offering jobs and cheating people of their money. What do you have to say about that?
A: We condemn the actions of these unscrupulous individuals who are misusing QNET’s name to promote illegal activities. We want to make it clear to everyone that QNET does not offer any type of jobs that requires people to pay money for. We do not have any such agents anywhere in the world who are authorised to offer a job in exchange for money. What these people are doing is reprehensible and criminal. If you are approached by any such individual, please immediately report them to the authorities and inform us through our dedicated email [email protected]
QNET will never ask for money from anyone to give them a job. As explained earlier, QNET offers a direct selling business opportunity that requires the person to register on our e-commerce platform as an independent representative and then promote our products to others. If they are successful in generating sales, they will get paid a commission. Many people have managed to build a successful sales business using this business model.
Q: How are you working toward dispelling the misconceptions some people have about QNET?
A: Over the years, we have deployed many ways to communicate how the business works. We regularly implement education and awareness campaigns by leveraging the Internet via social media campaigns, information videos, conducting stakeholder engagement sessions with authorities, government officials, media publications, as well as through advertising in newspapers, radio, online and television.
We have collaborated with stakeholders including regulatory and security agencies to provide in-depth awareness and education to the public to ensure transparency. All the information about QNET is available on our website. We urge anyone interested in QNET to go through our official website www.qnet.net which provides extensive information about our products, our business, and the company.
Q: What is the main thing you want the public to understand about QNET?
A: QNET has helped transform the lives of thousands of people around the world over the years through our products and our business. But none of this was overnight. QNET does not offer a get-rich-quick scheme or miracle products.
Our products are backed by years of research and testing, and have proven benefits that have helped our customers live better lives. Those who have built a successful business with QNET have put in years of hard work and have overcome a number of challenges in order to succeed. This is an entrepreneurial opportunity just like any other. You must be prepared to put in the work, and follow the rules of the business diligently in order to reap the rewards. The best thing is that QNET provides you with a great support ecosystem.
We provide you with the marketing and business tools you need, the training programmes to hone your skills, webinars for industry and product information, and so much more. We even provide a mobile app to help you manage your business from the palm of your hand from anywhere in the world. When a person wishes to join the QNET business, it must be of their own free will. No one should force them to sign up for the QNET business or buy products if they are not ready or willing to do so.
Q: How does QNET deal with distributors who are found engaging in illegal or unethical practices?
A: QNET has a zero-tolerance policy for any form of unethical behaviour that might jeopardise its brand and business model. Thus, sanctions range from suspension and/or termination of the distributor which incurs financial penalties to legal proceedings, if needed.
QNET has a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that all our IRs must follow while conducting their business. This includes a set of 10 Red Lines that our Independent Representatives must never cross. For example, we do not accept minors into any of QNET’s business activities. QNET distributors must be of legal age to do business in their respective countries. We oppose any misrepresentation, over-promise, or assertion that QNET or its products and services can do impossible things.
We take these red lines very seriously and those who are found in violation have been immediately suspended from our database cutting off their access to their account in QNET.
Q: What else should people know about QNET?
A: QNET has been in business since 1998. In the last 24 years, thousands of people around the world have benefitted from our products and services and have been empowered to become entrepreneurs using our direct selling business opportunity. QNET is a member of the Direct Selling Association in several countries around the world. Memberships into these industry organisations requires compliance to the highest standards of ethics and practices mandated by industry peers and regulators.
QNET is also active in sports sponsorships around the world. Some of the more prominent partnerships include being the Direct Selling Partner of Manchester City Football Club, and the African Club League Championships of CAF.