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January 1999

 

International

The Internet and Your Global Business - David Pearce Snyder

Are Networkers falling in love with the Internet? Not according to The Futurist magazine's Life-Styles editor, David Pearce Snyder. As a writer and public speaker, David has published over 100 studies, articles, and reports on the future of U.S. institutions and industries. He says many Network Marketers are wary of the Internet, but they needn't be. In fact, it could become one of their strongest allies, since info-com technology "will quickly double or triple the number of clientele that an individual sales rep can successfully serve." I asked him to share his thoughts on the impact of the Internet on the global network marketplace. -- Gale Fue

First, talk about the current status of the Internet revolution.

The good news is that the technology has now matured. It is very powerful and very cheap. Anyone can post an ad on the web that can be seen potentially by everybody. This new cyber-marketplace-- created out of seemingly thin air-- is an easy-to-work-in arena where an individual can effectively set up shop and sell to the 150 million people worldwide who are currently online.

We've seen the success of direct sales and catalog sales, both of which are part and parcel of a retail sales business that hit the $1 trillion mark last year. At the same time, Internet sales reached $100 million. This year, experts predict between $4 and $6 billion will be sold over the Web, and that number is expected to pass direct sales within three years or so. It's very exciting.

What about the concern some have that "relationship" marketing isn't suited to the Web?

I understand why the majority of Networkers are uncomfortable with direct sales over the Internet, but let's take a look. As a Network Marketer, you want to make a living by selling via the Web because there are customers all over the world who want to buy from someone like you. There are many more people on the Internet than you could reach by simply going through your close circle of friends. So the benefit here is that the Web permits us to establish relationships with people we would never ever have been able to meet or relate to otherwise.

Right now, you can present yourself to the world with your personality and ability to attract people who are looking for what you have to offer. The Internet is the only place where you can meet each other and establish long-term relationships. This technology allows you to increase your options-- your relationships-- exponentially, with minimal effort.

What are the global implications of this?

Right now, the retail infrastructure for most developing countries is not very sophisticated. That's why, in the past, people with lots of discretionary income typically went to Paris, New York, London, Singapore or Hong Kong to do their shopping. Now, they don't have to leave home. They simply look at a short description, a single photograph, and a price before they say, "That's fair. I'll take it." They have cash money and they don't have to kick the tires-- they see what they want and they buy it. How much more can they buy for the price of the airline ticket they no longer need?

And what about the middle class? It's not very big in most Third World countries, but it does exist, and it's growing rapidly. There will be more middle-class consumers in the developing nations seven years down the road than there are in the developed world now. Eventually, you will see more retail centers in these countries, but in the short term, the Internet is where they're going to do their buying, especially for anything that is not perishable. My sense is that things like nutriceuticals and dietary supplements, even though they do have a shelf life, would do well because if the order is placed and shipped directly from the factory, the consumer could have it very quickly.

The other benefit of Internet marketing is customization. Custom-tailored goods at mass-produced prices is one of the long-term underlying retail objectives of the information age. We improve our relationships with our customers by using the technology to gather information about what they like about what we do, which will enable us to design better products that will sell themselves. It all goes back to relationships.

Imagine being able to walk into a storefront, to a private terminal with a touch-sensitive screen where you describe symptoms like you're overweight, or you lack energy, or whatever. Within a few seconds you receive a printed analysis and recommended regimen. Swipe your credit card through a slot and the machine vends a custom combination of products in little packets for you to take every day for the next 30 days. Before now, that technology was only available in hospital pharmacies. Today, it's in storefront nutrition centers. Tomorrow, it'll be on desktops around the world.

That same technology is available for Network Marketers everywhere to establish relationships anywhere, anytime....

You bet. Anytime, day or night, anywhere around the world, and in any way that you happen to be good at establishing relationships. Whether you use an interactive screen or tell jokes, it doesn't matter. After all, it is a multi-media form that is going to offer more and more possibilities for how you can communicate and express as time passes.

And, of course, the medium is going to become much more powerful. In five years there will be 3-D photographs, moving images, and object-oriented software that will allow you to walk around the product, or see it worn by someone. Within ten years it will be easy enough for you to transmit your image into a catalog online so that you can see what you would look like in that suit. That will be common.

By the way, air freight is expected to double its share of the total portion of all goods shipped throughout the world over the next ten years. Companies are building bigger freight planes and freight airports to respond to global marketers, people who produce goods and need to respond to short-term demand half-way around the world. High speed freighters will also respond to the increase in global marketing so that you can order goods from anywhere in the world and have them delivered to you within 24 hours, and vice-versa.

In 1998, I could easily see $100 billion worth of Internet retail sales in the United States alone. I think that figure will double world wide.

All at my fingertips, just because I have a website?

Absolutely. For Networkers, the future will be a wonderful place.

Social forecaster David Pearce Snyder is the author of four books, and his seminars on strategic management and decision-making have been attended by representatives from most of the Fortune 500 companies. He was a keynote speaker at the DSA's last Annual Meeting. His website address is www.horizon.unc.edu/bios/snyder.asp.

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Reprinted with permission from Upline, Upline International - January 1999, 888-UPLINE-1, http://www.upline.com

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