The Direct Selling Association launches campaign for greater adoption of industry best practice amidst direct-to-consumer surge
The UK industry body for direct-to-consumer (D2C) retail, The Direct Selling Association, today launched a campaign calling for urgent and more widespread adoption of industry Codes of Conduct in the UK.
The campaign follows a significant growth in earnings by people working as independent consultants for D2C retail brands in recent months, with monthly earnings increasing by 73% to £833 last year, thought to be the biggest annual increase in earnings in over a decade.
Susannah Schofield OBE, Director General of the Direct Selling Association said: “This form of earning is an increasingly attractive way for people to boost their income as the cost-of-living crisis continues to be felt acutely across the UK.
“Whilst this is a hugely positive development for retailers in an otherwise somewhat gloomy economic outlook, it also presents the potential for disreputable brands and rogue operators to take advantage of the situation and cause huge reputational damage to the wider industry, and we are keen to do everything we can to prevent this.
“It is therefore vital that there is far greater – and urgent – adoption of Codes of Conduct by the many reputable and innovative brands who are selling direct to consumer who are yet to sign up to these Codes.”
Direct selling is a £1 billion-a-year channel of retail where products are sold directly to consumers outside of a fixed retail environment. This could be via ‘Tupperware-style’ parties face-to-face, online or through catalogue distribution. Individuals act as independent salespeople and earn through commission paid on product sales. In the UK approximately 500,000 people earn this way, usually on a part-time basis, to supplement household incomes; the average amount earned in the UK through direct selling is £833 per month. Direct selling operates in a similar manner to a micro-franchise, but start-up fees are considerably lower, and it is often free to get started.
As part of its campaign, The Direct Selling Association is reaching out to companies not already signed up to industry codes, as well as engaging with government on the issue.
Schofield continues: “Most of the well-known D2C brands such as Avon, The Body Shop, Usborne Books and Ann Summers have signed up to the industry’s Codes of Conduct, which go above and beyond UK consumer law to offer higher levels of protection to both customer and independent sales representatives. However, there still remain a large number of companies in the UK that have not done so, and it’s these companies that we are targeting, to encourage them to do so as a matter of urgency.”
Membership of the DSA is only granted to companies which have satisfactorily undergone a full audit process, a process that can take up to a year depending on the maturity of the company in question. During this period, a rigorous examination of an organisation’s business practices, policies and processes are undertaken to check compliance with industry Codes of Conduct.