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当直销上了线
A digital door opens for the direct seller

来源:FT中文网    2017-10-10 06:24



        The doorstep is lonelier than before. Where encyclopedia salesmen, “consultants” offering lipstick, and sellers of utilities jostled, there are fewer cold callers. Without package couriers and Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are not paid on commission in the usual sense, there might be solitude.        现如今,各家各户的门口比以前冷清了不少。曾经踏破门槛的百科全书推销员、口红销售“顾问”和公用设施销售员,现在都不见了踪影。如果再没有包裹递送员,和不拿佣金的“耶和华的见证人”上门传教,那就更清静了。
        Doorstep selling is so beleaguered in some countries that the crisis at Provident Financial, the UK subprime lender that tried to shrink its network of agents and found that business promptly fell apart, has a cheering quality. “That will disappear in the brave new world,” Peter Crook, former chief executive, promised in February. Instead it was he who disappeared from the helm.        上门推销在一些国家备受指责,以致于英国次贷机构Provident Financial因试图减少贷款经纪人的数量,而遭遇业务严重滑坡的危机时,老百姓都拍手称快。“这种销售模式将在这个美丽的新世界消失,”该公司前首席执行官彼得•克鲁克(Peter Crook)在今年2月承诺说,但最终却是他从公司掌门人的位置上消失了。
        It turned out that Mr Crook was foolhardy, dazzled by a vision of commission-based agents who offered and retrieved loans to the lower-paid being replaced by staff carrying computers. Without the self-employed sellers of the “Provvy” calling regularly, customers ceased being reminded to repay and collection rates plunged. There is something to the human touch.        事实证明,克鲁克被这样一种看法给迷惑了:拿佣金的、向较低收入人群发放贷款并负责收回贷款的经纪,正被随身携带电脑的职员所取代。没有这些自雇的贷款经纪定期上门拜访,就没人提醒客户还款,导致该公司的贷款回收率骤降。有些事情是必须要人亲力亲为的。
        The Provident’s story is captivating partly because it is unusual. Direct selling by agents on commission is in gradual decline in mature markets, while growing by double digits in places such as Indonesia, South Africa and Kazakhstan. Sheri McCoy is stepping down as chief executive of Avon Products after failing to halt the slide of the iconic cosmetics direct seller.        Provident的故事之所以吸引人,部分因为它很不寻常。拿佣金的经纪上门推销这种模式在成熟的市场逐渐式微,但在诸如印度尼西亚、南非和哈萨克斯坦等国正在以两位数的速度增长。雅芳(Avon Products)的首席执行官雪莉•麦科伊(Sheri McCoy)迫于压力将于明年3月离职,因未能遏止住这家标志性的化妆品直销公司业绩暴减的势头。
        Good riddance, the average Financial Times consumer may reflect. Those with strong credit ratings do not need doorstep loans and the “deals” offered by many sellers are dubious. Large UK energy suppliers abandoned doorstep selling after an outcry about high-pressure tactics. There are better cosmetics bargains on Amazon, or through Beauty Pie, a discount members club.        可算摆脱了,一般的英国《金融时报》客户可能这样想。信用评级很高的人不需要上门推销的贷款,很多直销经纪提供的“贷款协议”让人感到很不放心。英国大型能源供应商放弃了上门推销的模式,因民众对其高压销售策略怨声载道。在亚马逊网站上,或者通过网上折扣会员俱乐部Beauty Pie,能买到价格更划算的化妆品。
        Direct selling is partly tainted by association with customers who lack another choice — those who borrow from Provident or other subprime lenders are often shunned by banks. As their incomes and credit ratings rise, people can shop around. They also tend to have more options in developed markets with dense store networks and sophisticated online retailers.        直销一词含有贬义,一方面是因为人们总是将它与缺乏其它选择的客户联系在一起。从Provident或其他次贷机构借款的人,通常是那些银行拒绝放贷的客户。随着收入增加、信用评级上升,他们可以对不同机构提供的贷款条件货比三家。在拥有密集的实体店网络和成熟的在线零售商的发达市场,用户通常会有更多的选择。
        Long established US direct selling companies such as Tupperware now have more success in Latin America and Asia than at home. Emerging markets sales represent 66 per cent of Tupperware’s total and have been growing by 11 per cent annually for a decade. Even so, Avon is outsold in Brazil by both Natura Cosméticos, which has 1.7m sales consultants, and O Boticário.        特百惠(Tupperware)等历史悠久的美国直销公司,目前在拉美和亚洲市场的表现比在国内更成功。新兴市场销售额占特百惠总销售额的66%,且在过去十年中每年保持11%的增幅。即使如此,在巴西市场,雅芳的销售业绩还是被拥有170万销售顾问的Natura Cosméticos和O Boticário等本地化妆品公司赶超。
        A second taint is the suspicion that some direct selling groups are akin to pyramid schemes — agents can earn more by recruiting others to join up and buy stock than from selling to customers. Herbalife, the nutritional supplement group, paid $200m to settle with US regulators last year and its shares fell this month when Chinese officials cracked down on pyramid selling.        直销的第二层贬义是,人们怀疑一些直销集团是变相的传销组织——相对于向客户销售,代理商通过招募其他人加入并让他们购买存货赚的钱更多。营养保健品生产商康宝莱(Herbalife)去年支付2亿美元与美国监管机构达成和解,最近受中国政府打击传销行动影响,该公司股价下跌。
        The line between customer and an agent can be fuzzy — 15m of the 21m people described by the US Direct Selling Association as “involved” in the industry are customers who join for discounts, not sellers. Even those who do sell often earn relatively little: the median income of non-Hispanic US direct sellers last year was $3,300.        客户与代理商之间的界限可能很模糊——据美国直销协会介绍,在“涉足”该行业的2100万人中,1500万人是为享受折扣以客户、而不是销售员的身份加入的。通常情况下,即使那些真正从事销售的人赚得也不多:非西班牙裔美国直销商去年的收入中位数是3300美元。
        But there remains a place for direct selling, even if it has shrunk. People can still explain complex products and services better than machines: Provident customers are not the only ones baffled by finance. As long as you realise what you are paying for — in the case of the Tupperware party, some entertainment and education wrapped into the price of the utensil — it has a value.        尽管直销呈萎缩势头,但在某些领域仍有其存在的必要性。对于一些复杂的产品和服务,人仍比机器解释的更清楚,不只是Provident的客户在金融问题面前束手无策。只要你清楚地意识到你花钱购买的究竟是什么——以特百惠产品示范会为例,它是在该公司生产的家居用品的价格中包含的一些娱乐和教育元素——它就有存在的价值。
        The enduring value lies in the service rather than the sale. It is inescapable that buying from a direct seller tends to be more expensive, since someone has to pay the sales commission. From the seller’s point of view, this helps: it is harder for customers to compare prices of products on the doorstep than when shopping online or in a store.        持久的价值在于服务而不是销售。通过直销方式购物往往要贵一些,因为总得有人支付销售佣金。从销售员的角度来看,这一点是很有用的:较之网购或是到实体店购物,上门销售的话,客户很难货比三家。
        For home credit, that price can be very high. In February, the total repayment cost of a 12-month £1,000 loan from Provident was £1,872, according to Citizens Advice (an HSBC personal loan today would be £761 cheaper). Anyone with a top-tier credit rating would be crazy to borrow like that.        对于家庭借贷而言,上门推销的贷款利率可能非常高。根据公民咨询局(Citizens Advice Bureau)提供的数据,今年2月,1000英镑12个月Provident贷款的总还款额为1872英镑。(今天汇丰银行的同类个人贷款要便宜761英镑)。那些信用等级最高的人疯了才会使用这种贷款。
        Provident offers a service, though, to judge by the disruption when it tried to change. “When you’re sitting in someone’s home, you learn a lot about their circumstances,” says John van Kuffeler, chief executive of Non-Standard Finance and former chairman of Provident. “If there is no human contact, you lend to the wrong people.”        不过,当Provident试图改革这种上门放贷的模式时,遭遇了前所未有的业务危机,这说明该公司提供的是一种服务,而不仅仅是贷款产品。“当你坐在某人家中,你可以很好地了解他的生活状况,”Provident的前董事长,Non-Standard Finance的现任首席执行官约翰•范•库弗勒(John van Kuffeler)说,“如果没有亲自接触,你可能放贷给错误的人。”
        Human contact is less vital in selling cosmetics and household goods but it can still carry weight. If anything, the importance of personal recommendation is growing in the age of social media. Younique, a cosmetics group in which Coty bought a majority stake in January, sells through a network of 825,000 “presenters”, who hold virtual parties for friends and others.        个人接触在化妆品和家居用品销售中没有那么举足轻重,但仍能发挥一定的作用。如果说有什么不同的话,那就是在社交媒体时代,个人推荐变得更加重要了。Coty在1月收购了多数股权的化妆品公司Younique,通过一个拥有82.5万“推广员”的网络进行销售,这些人经常与朋友和其他人举行虚拟聚会。
        At a time when marketing and advertising is under pressure from online commerce, when brands find it harder to lure people, direct selling can still work. The sales representative is not dead, just digitised.        在电商给市场营销和广告带来压力之时,在品牌商家发现吸引客户的难度加大时,直销仍是一种行之有效的模式。销售代表并未消亡,只是从现实世界进入了网络世界。
        john.gapper@ft.com        译者/何黎
                
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