Live From E-Tail: Avon Embracing Social Networking

Aug 05, 2008 11:36 PM  By

Washington–The old catchphrase “Avon calling” could soon be replaced with a more 21st-century saying: “Avon pinging.”

Pattiann McAdams-Russell, president of Avon’s online division, said during her morning session at eTail 2008 that the cosmetics direct merchant is digging deeper into social networking as a way to give its sellers more power.

After an online upgrade, which will be rolled out by year’s end, Avon representatives will have the ability to blog on their personal Avon Websites. This will enable them to further tell the story of the products they sell. Reps will also be able to offer live chat to help their customers make their decisions.

Avon is also testing with Facebook and MySpace to attract a younger business. For instance, the company is integrating with Facebook to allow reps to have a storefront within that social network.

“It will not be the same exact as their online stores, but it will allow for engaging testimonials, and allow users to share knowledge of their products with their friends,” McAdams-Russell said.

When Avon first launched its online channel, many representatives started to leave the company, McAdams-Russell said. Why? They felt they were losing commissions because consumers had to option to buy online and bypass the middleman.

So in 2006, the company made enhancements to its site that allowed representatives to have their own online stores online. This enabled sellers to tell the story of the company and add a face to the brand.

The move improved reps’ online sales considerably. In 2006, just 9% of Avon’s e-commerce sales went through sales representatives. In 2008, that number has grown to 63%.