Avon, the world’s leading direct selling cosmetics company, has begun to intensify its online ventures in an effort to develop new markets and improve communication with its sales manpower worldwide. Online business efforts of the company initially focused on retail operations but more recent efforts have intensified recruitment and operations (Avon UK, 2007). Intensive campaign have been launch to attract sales representative applications online and the company has also made available online processing of orders as well sales and performance monitoring (Avon, 2007).
Overall, the company considers its online business as a critical growth area but has also recognized the challenges of going online because of intellectual property issues, database management and security and media requirements. According to Neil (2006), one of the recent challenges for the company is to go beyond the traditional image of its sales force, as personified by “Avon ladies” and improve its strategic competencies with new entrants. Bosman (2006) considers the effort to have improved not only the sales performance of the company but also its operations.
However, there are still significant challenges for the company’s online business (Neil, 2006). Currently, there is still a discrepancy on the online shopping and recruitment sites’ language availability and the countries were the company operates unlike in its direct selling operations which emphasize local and personal marketing. There has also been some concern regarding violations of media copyrights, trademark infringements and other intellectual property issues (Bosman, 2006). There have also been concerns regarding security and database management issues particularly in payments and consolidation of user information.
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Avon’s interest in online sales and operations is common to all companies. The cost of maintaining online operations is a fraction of what it would costs to maintain physical operations. At the same time, it is affording the company access and competencies in managing and developing insight from information gathered from databases. However, there are also significant risks and limitations to operating online and these directly depend on Avon’s ability to merge it traditional operations with its virtual markets. This requires not only technical and business competencies but also greater sensitivity to audience its websites open to. Read about limitations of Manpower Planning
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