What is Direct Selling?

Direct Selling is the simplest and perhaps the oldest form of commerce. From the earliest peddlers taking their wares from house to house, Direct Selling is retail that meets the customer wherever they are in the world. It has the unique advantage of showing people the value of a product or service immediately in their daily lives.

By definition, Direct Selling is, as Robert A. Peterson and Thomas R. Wotruba (1996) write in the Journal of Personal Selling and Sale Management “face-to-face selling away from a fixed location.” It most often occurs in a customer’s home or office or at the home of a friend. Unlike other business interactions, it makes the most of this intimate opportunity to educate, inspire and motivate the consumer about a particular product or service. Direct selling is then able to tailor itself to the needs and wants of each individual customer.

As times and technologies evolve and change, though, so has direct selling. With the advent of e-commerce in the 1990’s, digital interaction became an integral part of the industry. Email, social media, and video give the direct selling market invaluable tools that allow for a broader reach to a more varied audience. However, personal contact between seller and consumer and the subsequent relationship still remains at the heart of modern direct selling.