You may remember the Avon lady knocking on your door selling her makeup products, now that Avon lady is getting a makeover of her own – and it’s a digital one. Avon Canada is finally moving into the digital age, with a new online marketing strategy.

Launched in September of this year, Avon Canada is introducing eStores and social media-based selling to attract a new era of makeup users to its products.

“We identified that our sales representatives were using social media to grow their business already,” Goran Petrovic, president of Avon Canada told ITBusiness.ca. “We looked at the number of followers they engaged with and it came as a very obvious choice to move the Avon lady as we know it to the world of online and social media,” he explains.

The modern Avon lady. Source: @myavoncanada Instagram

Petrovic stated in a press release about the launch, that 98 per cent of its reps are online in some capacity already and what Avon is doing is simply giving them the tools to “leverage the digital world to grow their business.”

Avon sales representatives will now each have their own free website and can choose to promote through social media platforms like Instagram. No more need to go knocking door-to-door or hosting ‘Tupperware-style’ parties to sell makeup.

Along with the ecommerce site, e-brochures allow customers to flip through and supposedly click-to-shop for products. Petrovic says that Avon reps can now focus on being beauty influencers, sharing videos, and makeup tutorials through social media instead of having to sell or deliver products as the eStores handle all the sales and delivery processes.

Catching up with the digital age

Avon is coming to the game a bit late. E-commerce has been around for more than 20 years and statistics show that more than half of all consumers prefer to shop online, in fact, Salesforce’s Shoppers-First Retailing report shows that 86 per cent of Canadians start their product hunt through digital channels.

Petrovic did admit to ITBusiness.ca that he understands Avon is lagging behind. And because that’s the case, he says “[Avon Canada] didn’t have the chance to learn as we go, the solution that we launched today is a solution that had to go flawlessly from the very beginning.”

When ITBusiness.ca spoke to him it had only been six weeks since the launch of the digital strategy, at that time he said Avon Canada was very pleased with the response. “We are seeing about one-third of the organization [sales reps] adopting it and we are growing that part of the business with very strong double-digit numbers. ”

At least 30 per cent of Avon sales reps have opened and are selling through their own eStore and the beauty product company has also seen a 15 per cent increase in average customer spend from those choosing to shop online, versus those shopping offline.

History of Avon

Avon’s more than 130-year history is one of innovation and empowering women through economic opportunities.

It was started in 1886 by David H. McConnell, an American travelling book salesman. He found in his travels that some of his female customers were more interested in the free perfume samples he created than his books.

According to the company website, he also noticed that women were “struggling to make ends meet and recognized in many of them natural salespeople who would easily relate to other women and passionately market the products his new company would first sell, perfumes.”

Vintage Avon lady advertisement. Source: MarketWatch/Avon

Thus the idea of the Avon lady began, giving women, in a time when the majority of women were not in the workforce, the ability to manage their own business.

Touting itself as “the company for women,” Avon claims it has long been committed to empowering women financially both through its beauty product businesses as well as its female-focused initiatives that support breast cancer research and domestic violence awareness.

However, the once innovative company fell behind when ecommerce popped up and is now playing catch up.

‘Made in Canada’ digital transformation

The idea to finally make that move to digital came from Avon Canada.

A couple of years ago the Canadian team, noticed that the company was not keeping up with trends or responding to the world around it and decided to make changes. At that time it started implementing updates such as creating a new online store but then stopped abruptly and never finished the job.

It wasn’t until late 2017 that the ball really started rolling for Avon’s digital transformation. Using IBM and SAP solutions it further developed the ecommerce site that had been started years before and developed its own website as well as personalized websites for each Avon sales rep.

From the time it got the green light to go ahead with the digital transformation strategy, it took the Avon Canada team eight months to get the digital strategy up and running in September of this year.

But it wasn’t just about using and developing technology explains Petrovic. He says the Canadian team led the way in connecting the tech with a strategy that put the consumer experience first, connected them with an Avon lady sales rep, and combine that with providing real-time inventory through its eStores.

“It’s about creating that overall experience that is enabling customers in a non-digitally native company to become a very strong player in this online world,” Petrovic says.

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