It has become common these days to find interesting stories on social media where people share their frustrations about what they ordered online versus what they got. Although some of these stories are hilarious, they show how some online business people are riding on shoppers’ ignorance to exploit them by presenting enticing images of products online yet selling inferior ones to customers because they know it may be challenging to track them down.
In the past, companies did not prioritise transparency and honesty in business. Most organisations operated opaquely, and not even employees had first-hand information on all the company’s operations. In today’s market, however, companies must learn that honesty and transparency inspire trust, and as the level of trust increases, so does the likelihood of success.
Businesses need to do more to gain and maintain customer trust through transparency and honesty in an age where customers have more options and understand customer rights and privileges with easy-to-access regulatory agencies and multiple social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction. A consulting firm, Label Insight’s survey, found that 94% of consumers prefer brands that practice transparency. Studies show that 52% of Millennials research background information about products before purchasing, and 42% expect to know what goes into products and how goods are made before they purchase them.
The two fundamental elements of honesty and transparency have emerged as the benchmark for businesses in today’s society, and companies are reaping remarkable benefits economically while at the same time building their reputation. Treating employees, partners and customers how the business owner would want to be treated aids in creating an environment of trust and support. Such become the building blocks of long successful relationships, a phenomenon no different in the direct selling business, which has penetrated the African market somewhat aided by the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is Direct Selling?
Direct selling is a method of marketing and retailing goods and services directly to consumers in their homes or any other location away from permanent retail premises. It is a sales channel companies use to promote their products away from a physical retail location, directly to the end consumer, primarily relying on word-of-mouth promotion of existing users. According to the World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) report, Africa in 2020 saw a 17.3% year-on-year increase in the number of individuals involved in direct selling with brands like QNET tapping into the trend by expanding its presence in the region.
Why are Transparency and Honesty Important in the Direct Selling Business?
The direct selling business relies heavily on salespeople getting in front of customers in non-traditional settings to sell products. When marketing products and services, every salesperson has no choice but to be honest, and truthful. If they deal honestly in business and consumer confidence is positive, customers will forge a long-lasting relationship with the brand. Dishonest business practices will only lead to a long brand reputation damage and a trust deficit.
On the other hand, honest business practices in direct selling build foundations of trust with customers and every other individual and entity. By putting credible information in people’s hands, they can make more informed and, therefore, better decisions and choices.
QNET, for instance, launched in Nigeria last year to give Nigerians access to high-quality products and offer a unique opportunity to earn additional income in an internationally tried-and-true business model. The company discloses essential business operations, goals, values, and information.
Firms and individuals involved in direct selling must deal with customers with integrity by backing up their work and products to be everything they have been advertised because consumers expect this as a bare minimum.
The value and importance of honesty and transparency in direct selling have apparent and subtle implications. Small and big direct-selling business owners should operate based on a commitment to provide valuable services or products. Failing to meet your corporate responsibilities establishes a climate of mistrust and potential illegality.
From the foregoing, businesses have no choice but to remain transparent. Integrity in business enhances your reputation — which can help attract and retain customers, boost employee loyalty and become a more attractive investment proposition. Business integrity is strongly correlated with financial performance, so organisations must espouse transparency and integrity to thrive in the increasingly competitive market.
About Mr Biram Fall
Biram FALL is a financial economist and analyst. He started his career at Citibank in New York more than 30 years and has since held leadership and strategy positions in the administration of his country Senegal as well as in leading companies. He is now Managing Director Regional for QNET Sub-Saharan Africa.
Throughout his career, Mr. Fall has developed a keen interest in visual arts and geopolitics, to name but a few some of his other personal interests and hobbies.
He believes in sharing and giving to the community, a man whose determination to play a key role in helping African youth is unwavering.