Multi-level marketing (MLM) companies are used to adapting to change. Since the first MLM companies took off more than a century ago through record-setting sales growth in 2020, direct selling companies have leveraged the latest technology to anticipate and adapt to evolving market needs. What software solutions do MLM companies need in 2022? Successful MLM leaders are combining established technology with new features and tools designed for Ecommerce, digital marketing, live stream selling, and social commerce.
Today’s MLM software solutions help companies manage their business with “back-end” functions like inventory management and training through rep- and customer-facing tools like replicated websites, autoship services, and marketing campaigns. The best MLM software solutions also drive valuable customer relationship management (CRM), enabling companies and their independent field sales representatives to better understand customer needs and tailor products, promotions, and services to appeal to specific customer segments.
Whether you’re benchmarking your current MLM software’s capabilities or choosing a new software solution in 2022, here’s a checklist of key functionality to consider.
Software designed for direct selling
MLM companies have unique structures that enable representatives to build their own businesses by selling the company’s products or services and creating their own team of sales representatives, known as a downline. Direct selling compensation plans pay representatives a commission for retail sales to customers as well as a percentage of the sales made by their downline team. The genealogy structures that determine how MLM and party plan companies pay their representatives can take various forms, such as unilevel, binary, and matrix. As a result, choosing software designed for direct selling companies is important.
In addition to aligning with the direct selling model across sales, marketing, rep recruiting, and compensation, MLM software is also designed to help companies address compliance requirements for the direct selling industry with features and tools to manage and track sales end-to-end, collect sales taxes, and calculate and pay commissions.
Business-building tools front and center
One of the biggest reasons for MLM growth in recent years is how well direct selling opportunities align with the entrepreneurial aspirations of Millennials and Generation Z. Seventy-two percent of Millennials have a high interest in entrepreneurship, followed closely by 67 percent of Gen Z. MLM companies provide a flexible and affordable option for people looking to start a business, with the direct selling company responsible for product development as well as MLM software and Ecommerce platforms. In fact, many MLM companies make it possible for a person to enroll as an MLM representative, set up their web page, and start making sales on day one!
Make sure you prioritize business-building tools and features within your company’s MLM software. For example, look for functionality that helps you optimize your dashboard so reps have an at-a-glance view of the most important data points for managing and growing their business. Leverage automated alerts that let them know when they get a sale, enroll a new downline representative, and are close to qualifying for a new rank. Take advantage of customization capabilities to present the right dashboard view for reps at different levels, such as simplified views for more casual representatives and more detailed menu options for upper-rank leaders.
In 2022, business is frequently conducted via smartphones and tablets. With representatives and customers on the go, ensuring your MLM software is mobile-friendly is critical. Optimize both rep and customer experiences so that everything from dashboards and data points through onboarding and Ecommerce shopping is possible – and easy – to do via phone. Now’s the time to increase mobile responsiveness. Today, nearly three in four Ecommerce sales happen on a smartphone or tablet – up significantly from 59 percent in 2017.
Ecommerce made easy
Accelerated by the global pandemic, Ecommerce shopping surpassed projected growth rates. Now, as consumers continue their online shopping habits, Ecommerce is projected to account for 24 percent of total retail sales by 2025. To keep up with customer expectations, look for MLM software capabilities offering turnkey replicated websites that are easy for representatives to set up and use. Replicated Ecommerce sites provide consistency across brand experiences and product positioning while automatically tying sales back to the customer’s MLM representative.
The online shopping experience is also key. Focus on making browsing and buying easy with capabilities like filter options that let shoppers narrow searches by price ranges, product categories, or style, and curated category pages that showcase a specific set of products. Then, as customers browse, provide useful information with tags that alert them to best-selling items, promotions, or limited availability. Finally, put extra emphasis on streamlining the checkout process. Choose MLM software that allows you to use an “accordion” design style, showing customers the steps needed to complete a purchase with each section expanding and then consolidating as they move through the process.
Forward-thinking social commerce options
Selling through social media – also known as social commerce – is one of the fastest-growing retail channels, with sales growing at three times the rate of traditional Ecommerce. For MLM representatives, social media platforms offer a highly effective way to engage with customers – both existing and prospective. Social media also provides MLM reps with a viable and cost-effective way to expand their reach beyond their immediate contacts and community. So, it’s only natural that MLM companies are tapping into social commerce technology as a way to connect with customers and drive sales.
Look for MLM software tools and integrations that facilitate rep-hosted live stream selling events on social media by making it easy for customers to interact with the rep and each other and make purchases via the rep’s replicated website. In addition to live selling events and demos, make it simple for customers to share their experiences and advocate for your products with social-share buttons within Ecommerce shopping experiences and shareable posts for both reps and customers. Today, many MLM companies are also implementing affiliate and influencer marketing programs that encourage customers to share their love for the company’s products and services via social media with rewards for social posts, engagement, and resulting sales.
Global expansion enabled
Finally, make sure your MLM software is ready to grow with your company, including international expansion. Look for MLM software solutions that can enable multiple languages, currency conversions, and cross-border sponsorship options. In addition, to operate efficiently across markets, you’ll want functionality that allows country-specific configurations so you can tailor your offering, including products, pricing, and commission values, by market. If your legacy MLM software doesn’t have the capabilities you need, explore options that allow you to keep a legacy platform in place and add an international market using a new software platform. This can be an effective way to get up and running in a new market, with the option to scale the platform to support the entire business later.