GS Logo
The Green Sheet, Inc

Please Log in

A Thing
Links Related
to this Story:

Ride the direct seller wireless wave

By George E. Devitt, WAY Systems Inc.

According to the most recent figures from the Direct Selling Association, 13.6 million individuals are engaged in direct selling. And this number is double that of 10 years ago.

Many merchant level salespeople (MLSs) may not be familiar with the term "direct selling" or the DSA, but they're certainly familiar with the names Mary Kay Inc., Tupperware Worldwide, Herbalife Inc., Hy Cite Corp. and countless others - all of which engage in direct selling.

Direct selling breakdown

Over 70% of such companies' sales are made face to face, most often in residential settings. The chart accompanying this story contains a detailed breakdown of locations at which direct sales are closed.

Until now, direct sellers typically had to accept cash and checks or extend credit to their customers. In some cases, a credit card number was written down and key-entered into a PC-based payment system after the sales event.

These limited options created problems for direct sellers. For example, the checkout process was slow. Often checks were accepted from fraudulent accounts or those that lacked sufficient funds to cover the payment.

Transactions key-entered after an event sometimes revealed fraudulent or over-limit cards had been used.

Also, key-entered transactions often were charged an additional fee of 50 basis points, or more, because the swiped rate did not apply.

And while some may assume that average tickets for these sales are small, quite the opposite is often true. In fact, some high-end products sold through these channels cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Ready, set, ripe for wireless

The solution for this huge market rests in wireless, or mobile, POS terminals. These are available from a variety of manufacturers, including WAY Systems, and in myriad form factors.

Recently, Madison, Wisc.-based Hy Cite selected a wireless POS payment systems solution to offer its distributors the ability to accept on-the-spot credit and debit card payments.

Hy Cite offers a broad array of premium health and nutrition products under the Royal Prestige brand. According to Alejandro Vergara, Hy Cite's Vice President of Operations, the "market has really changed since we started looking several years ago.

"There are more terminal manufacturers offering new capabilities and, frankly, more salespeople who seem to be focused on selling wireless credit card processing. The customer is truly in the driver's seat."

Hy Cite, which has over 2,000 distributors and does business in the United States, Mexico, Chile, Ecuador and Canada, plans to expand the program to its party planning, shows and dinner-group sales associates.

"We believe so much in the program that we are even subsidizing the merchant fees associated with accepting credit cards for our associates," Vergara said.

"We believe the program can expand our sales, make our associates more productive, provide us with a more professional image and give us a competitive advantage."

With a market of almost 14 million potential customers, the direct selling market is ripe for wireless payment processing.

And the key to success appears to be offering a device that is cost-effective, has a convenient form factor, is easy to use and offers broad wireless coverage.

MLSs who choose the right solutions and focus on meeting the unique needs of this market will be pursuing a virtually untapped opportunity.

George E. Devitt is Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Boston-based WAY Systems Inc. An industry veteran, Devitt has served as Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Hypercom Corp., Vice President of Marketing at VeriFone and Vice President of Product Marketing at Harland Financial Solutions, in addition to a number of sales and marketing positions at IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. E-mail him at

Article published in issue number 061102

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.
Back Next Index © 2006, The Green Sheet, Inc.