How direct sales business models integrate with e-commerce I

Mon 12 March 2012 10:00, Qin Hu

How direct sales business models integrate with e-commerce I

As many brick and mortar businesses opened online shops like for example H&M and Zara, I as a marketer/online shopper am quite interested in researching how brands with their ‘roots’ in direct sales are trying to catch up with e-commerce and subsequently possibly influence (my) online buying decisions. So in a simplified attempt to do just that I have looked at various sites and would like to tell you about the best examples in my point of view: Mary Kay and Avon.

  • First impressions

 Mary Kay:

The home page is quite attractive and lovely with a warm slogan ‘enriching women’s lives’. There are many pictures which are continually changing. Those pictures are trying to tell Mary Kay’s customers about fashion trends information with tips, introductions of new products and so on. All the information probably will capture consumers’ eyes. 

The search box can easily be found, located in the upper right corner. By clicking Español, the language of the website will be changed for Spanish customers. On the top of the website, customers can find products categories and on the left, there is more helpful information, such as personal beauty profiler and virtual makeover. With the increasing popularity of YouTube and Facebook, Mary Kay also provides opportunities for their customers to follow them through these media.



The homepage of Avon looks very simple, but unique and well categorized. The website shows what its slogan says ‘a company for women’. Like Mary Kay, the search box and language bar for Spanish customers are located in the upper right corner. Customers will notice three parts: find a representative, sell Avon and shop online as soon as they open the website. It brings a lot of convenience to serve its customers with different interests. So if you are a customer with only shopping purposes, then you can directly click shopping online without having to go through useless information and waste time. Or if you want to become an ‘Avon’, you can easily find useful information, instead of searching by clicking and clicking.

On the other hand, the website itself does not tell too much about its products. Customers who really need to find information still should explore more. In addition, they are also required to read too much. Although we are talking about the beauty industry, the website is not that attractive and beautiful enough in my opinion.



Comparing the websites from both companies, I think Mary Kay is more interesting and  also capable to keep its customers’ interests. New visitors might visit the homepage again. However, Avon’s homepage asks people to read too much which will chase customers away after visiting several minutes.

  • The navigation of both websites

Mary Kay:

As a first visitor, I think Mary Kay’s website is very easy for its target customers to go through. They can easily see the categories, which are defined as: what’s new, sink care, makeup, body & sun, fragrance, men, company and sell Mary Kay. Customers can easily find the products they want by choosing from those categories, even for new visitors. For instance, if you click makeup, then you will see all the makeup products displayed by functions from this category. Customers could choose the functions they need and see more product details. By checking those details with product features, customers could choose specific products with specific colors. 

This website is really designed for customers’ friendliness. It works just like other good beauty shopping websites. Customers will not feel confused and not waste time on needless searches.




From Avon’s homepage, you cannot find any information about their products unless you click shop online. This difference might confuse some visitors who just want to check the products without actually buying intentions. After customers click shop online, then the page will turn to be similar to the Mary Kay website. However, there are more categories compared to Mary Kay. One thing I like is that on the left side of the website, there is area saying ‘more ways to shop’ which provides more criteria for customers when they are checking the products. 

In order to have a good comparison, I took makeup as an example to see how the site navigation is. By clicking makeup button, customers will see a list of different functions for makeup products on the left side, just like Mary Kay offers. For example, I clicked ‘Lips’, and then there are four types of lip makeup products. So customers can choose specific lip makeup directly. In the middle area, all makeup products of lips are represented with price, discount and rate (red star). If you want to see more reviews, you can click ‘more info’ which is under each product icon. One thing I do not like is that there are too many products in that area, in this case 37 lip makeup products. New visitors will not waste time to check them thoroughly. In addition, the website of Avon is not difficult to explore, but only easy for regular customers or regular e-shopping customers, not for everyone.


Personally, I like Avon’s site navigation because I prefer to see all reviews and rating. Those details help customers know more about the products, which is important for the beauty industry, especially when we do not have samples. Furthermore, the website of Avon has more ways to shop. For example, customers can shop by special offers which will helps some budget oriented customers. All these small details give me a feeling of concerning and caring.  But in general, Mary Kay’s website is more designed for all customers. Regular e-shopping customers and or new experienced customers will feel very pleasant to use Mary Kay’s site. 

How do you feel so far? I hope my comparison can give all of you some ideas about the websites, especially for people who have web shops. The second part will be posted soooooooooooon.

Comments (2)


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