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Despite the lifting of lockdowns and movement restrictions, the global economy remains volatile. Indeed, the facts show that instead of recovery, the past 12 months have been beset by geopolitical strife, high interest rates and volatile commodity prices.
Remarkably, despite the challenges, direct selling has managed to not only prove its resilience yet again but also make a positive impact on national and regional economies.
As a matter of fact, the industry, of which QNET is a leading light, has been consistently recognised for how it has improved income generation and job creation, revived stagnant sectors, and opened up more entrepreneurial opportunities.
So, what’s in store for us and the industry over the next year?
While challenges and unpredictability are set to remain, experts also predict unprecedented opportunities for expansion.
With that in mind, thus, here are some of the key growth areas that QNET as an organisation will be focussed on in 2023:
Although this current century has seen more people leaving 9-5 jobs to become their own bosses, COVID-19 has undoubtedly lit the entrepreneurship spark. And that, in turn, has seen direct selling emerge as a viable opportunity for millions of individuals.
Starting a business is never easy. However, direct selling’s distinctive features of more flexibility, minimal capital obligations, and operational costs have enabled many to go into business for themselves and realise their dreams.
Additionally, what has helped empower new business owners, even more, are conducive and nurturing entrepreneurial ecosystems and a digital-first mindset; things that QNET has focussed on from the beginning.
The prediction is that entrepreneurship will continue to grow and evolve in the next five years.
Thus, to best empower new business owners, direct selling companies will also need to adopt a future-ready stance as QNET CEO Malou Caluza says. This will involve focussing on sustainable products, ethical production, distribution and sales practices, and community development.
The gig economy
Entrepreneurship aside, direct selling is also expected to leverage the gig economy in the next years.
Gig work, of course, has been both massively popular and important to the world’s destabilised workforce. The industry has played a crucial role in keeping many national economies from tanking.
Yet, despite the appeal of flexibility, gig work has come under scrutiny for, among other things, a lack of worker support and growth prospects.
This is where direct selling, regarded as a forerunner to gig-based work, is expected to make a difference.
We understand that gig workers seek simplicity, flexibility and stable incomes. Thus, the opportunity for forward-thinking companies is to present how direct selling aligns with those needs and yet also provides unique advantages; specifically, mentorship, targeted learning, and larger growth opportunities.
Innovation will continue to be important to growth this year.
But while technologically-driven products and services will undoubtedly be an area of focus for many, the bulk of the emphasis on innovation for direct selling is expected to be in enhancing the digital sale and purchase experience.
As one of Asia’s first direct selling companies to embrace e-commerce, QNET has always placed digital transformation at the top of our agenda. And the focus this year will be on forging ahead more proactively to unlock new opportunities.
We have, of course, already worked with Microsoft to create more secure and agile systems, adopted new digital payment solutions, introduced the innovative eKYC (Electronic Know Your Customer) fraud protection system, and improved the functionality of QNET’s award-winning mobile app.
Nevertheless, the continued development of artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain, among others, present more avenues for direct selling to create better business solutions for entrepreneurs and customers.
Even so, there is likely to be a greater emphasis on sustainability and environmental protection, especially among younger business owners.
Of course, sustainability has always been important to QNET. And indeed, our numerous efforts over the past 25 years — from banning single-use plastics at QNET offices and events to replacing all product packaging with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper — underline just how crucial they are to our direct selling business.
However, the fact that customers have become savvier to the needs of the environment means that direct selling businesses like ours will have to ensure that sustainable practices and efforts to protect and preserve the environment for future generations are at the centre of our business strategy.
Training and mentorship
Like in previous years, direct selling is expected to leverage the growing gig economy.
However, the shift from the trend of side hustles to a “multi-hustle” environment means that training will be more crucial than ever.
Yes, direct selling has always allowed entrepreneurs to learn and grow. And QNET has consistently sought to empower independent representatives (IRs) with the tools to succeed. Yet the focus this year, experts note, will be on developing entrepreneurs to spot gaps in the market, devise unique ways to meet customer needs, and build resilience.
Incidentally, QNET has already got a head start in this area thanks to the launch of our purpose-built training facility in Ghana, which is expected to benefit about 600 entrepreneurs monthly.
Inclusiveness and diversity
Direct selling has been a lifeline for women for years. And this trend looks set to continue in 2023, especially in countries and regions with traditionally poorer female representation.
The conversation on inclusiveness, however, has shifted towards greater diversity. Thus, the opportunity for the industry as a whole is to be more open and accommodating by, among others, expanding equal opportunity policies and support structures to ensure even more participation.
FinGreen, QNET’s financial literacy programme, which provides skills and developmental training for disenfranchised persons, is a prime example of such an initiative.
Expansion and development
Yes, ongoing supply chain issues, rising costs of food and essentials as well geopolitical tension continue to be concerns. Nevertheless, there is optimism that this year will see direct selling evolving and expanding and serving once more as an avenue for millions to realise their dreams.
The long and short of it is that the next half a decade presents countless opportunities for direct selling to grow. And QNET, which has proven resilient over the two years of flux, will be looking to make even greater strides.