Avon revamps its direct sales business for a digital world

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Avon revamps its direct sales business for a digital world

Related tags North american market Enterprise resource planning

Avon has improved its ecommerce platform, launched a representative empowerment site called Beauty for a Purpose and is constructing a global IT system that will vary according to the needs of a given market.

The beauty company is working to stabilize its business, particularly in the North American market, from several angles and there is plenty yet to be done. Avon announced late last week that Q2 revenue was down 17%.

Now, this week, the Wall Street Journal blog saw fit to explore how the company’s IT department is instrumental in the company’s turnaround, giving traders a more nuanced look at the company’s business strategy.

Local, regional, global
What Avon has taken away from its prior experience, is that regional solutions remain terribly relevant in the global age.

The WSJ item recalls that, “Avon spent $125 million and at least two years preparing to deploy a new order management system based on software from SAP SE, part of a service model transformation program meant to simplify how Avon representatives interacted with the company….the implementation ultimately reduced the number of active representatives and resulted in a severe revenue decline.”

Something new
Sue Liddie, CIO at Avon, shared some details on the company’s new IT solution with that publication.

Its divided into three strata: on top is user interface, then a rules engine, and the lower layer is the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.

The “proprietary middle layer is a rules engine that controls core elements of Avon’s business, from pricing and promotions to the “Find a Representative” feature that connects shoppers with sales reps,” ​Liddie told the Journal. “Built on Microsoft’s .NET framework, those services plug into the user interface and core ERP systems and can be deployed across markets.”

Retail intelligence
Consumers are adapting to omni-channel retailing and are increasing loyalty to brands that meet them wherever they are—online, on mobile tech, in store, and beyond.

Accordingly, now beauty brands that were born digital are venturing into storefront retail​.  “Omni-channel retailing strengthens both ways as retailers and marketers strive to offer channel agnostic consumers the convenience of shopping in physical stores and online,” ​notes Karen Doskow, director of consumer products with market research firm Kline.   

Getting digital right can make or break a business. By putting digital tools, like apps and online shops, in the hands of representatives and empowering regional leaders to make system adjustments suited to individual markets, Liddie’s IT team at Avon is setting the company up for success.

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