21 Apr FLOOR TO OUR MERCHANTS: AVON ITALIA
Head of Finance Italy&Greece, AVON Italia
CEO, AVON Italia
Avon is a leading global beauty company operating in over 50 countries with a business model based on Sales Representatives and proximity to customers. How many Representatives does Avon count today worldwide and how big is its Italian community?
In 2021 we celebrated our 135th Anniversary and today, our independent sales force counts over 5 million Representatives worldwide. Direct sales pioneer, Avon Cosmetics is on the Italian market since 1966, where it counts over 65,000 brand Representatives.
By keeping an eye open on innovation and digital transformation, your company has always been in step with the times. In terms of online presence, Avon Italia was certainly not caught unprepared in times of pandemic crisis. When were your online sales platforms launched and how do the one for Avon Representatives and the B2C e-commerce differ from each other?
The launch of our e-commerce took place before the pandemic and it was a key strategic move for us: we all saw how crucial the role played by the digital channel was and, in the first place, we wanted to take the “My Avon Store” idea forward, i.e. the opening of e-stores by our Representatives. Later on, we worked on the B2C e-commerce where customers can buy directly from, which was launched in October 2019.
It goes without saying that Avon Representatives stay at the core of our model. Therefore, their role will never be overridden by anyone. The added value of our beauty Representatives is not challenged even in the digital era: rather, digital channels and tools further support their business.
However, at the same time, we also wanted to give end customers the opportunity to go online and be able to choose between the assistance provided by a Representative and the possibility to buy directly, as well as between the option of getting the products brought to them by our Representative and the option of getting the order shipped to their address. In any case, even the price list available on the B2C e-commerce has been differentiated to ensure the role of our Representatives is safeguarded as we highly value the precious and irreplaceable customised one-to-one relationship they offer, which has always been the heart of our business.
Digital payments have been and continue to be a crucial driving force for the growth of e-commerce and retail. How important are they for Avon Italia?
Offering digital payment methods was a necessary step to keep up with the times. Following the opening of the digital platform dedicated to our Representatives and the launch of the e-commerce for end customers, we wanted to broaden the choice of payment tools to meet their demands and enable them to choose those that best suit their needs. We wanted to invest in this area because online payments definitely represent one of the most important aspects of the digital experience.
Let’s talk about Avon and MyBank. Why did you decide to offer MyBank and what was your Representatives’ reaction to this new payment method?
MyBank was a conscious choice. Our main goal was to challenge the old postal order payment method, which today -incredible though it may seem- is still widely used by our Representatives.
If, on one hand, we certainly wanted to push through any digital tools, on the other hand we have deliberately privileged and encouraged the use of the MyBank transfer, a method that provides a variety of advantages to both our Representatives and ourselves and which is highly appreciated at our end.
Of course, the introduction of e-payment tools has initially encountered some resistance: one of our characteristics is that, although our audience becomes younger and younger, the majority of our Representatives are established partners, i.e. they joined Avon long time ago. For them, changing their habits is more challenging, also when it comes to payments.
MyBank, with its easy-to-use system based on online banking, greatly helps overcoming this resistance. Therefore, it is definitely our intention to further promote it.
How has MyBank met your needs?
With MyBank, we have managed to automate an important part of our transactions and, overall, to speed up payment processes. MyBank has also made reconciliations more efficient, thus streamlining those tasks that normally require a lot of manual work.
Avon is transforming itself into an omnichannel brand, which combines different communication channels working synergistically, including apps and other innovative tools. What are your favourite channels to promote yourself online and how do you use them?
We are active in social media through the official pages of Avon Italia on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin (the latter, increasingly used as an institutional channel) as well as on Tik Tok, where we were one of the first beauty companies to open their profile and which represents an excellent platform to attract a younger audience.
We also have a closed Facebook group, exclusively dedicated to our Representatives, where we make all sorts of information available to them: from technical service communications and product information to events and initiatives. This channel is particularly appreciated by our sales force, which is in turn present on social media through the pages of individual Representatives that further increase Avon’s brand visibility.
Avon has always been synonymous with women’s empowerment and also in Italy “social commitment” is one of its core values. What initiatives do you focus on and what do they represent for you?
Raising awareness of gender-based violence and the fight against breast cancer are particularly important to us. Our daily commitment in this area brings motivation and added value, a source of pride for the entire team. We have used our 135th anniversary to pledge $1.35m to women’s causes around the world, adding to the $1.1bn raised and donated by Avon and the Avon Foundation over the years.
21 Apr 2022