My brother and COO of Market America/SHOP.COM Marc Ashley was recently in Taiwan for convention and it was amazing! JR and I were so sad to have missed it but we will be back soon. Marc also had an interview published in Business Today, the leading business magazine in Taiwan while he was there! I am so proud of him. Read the interview (translated) and check out the cover below! xo
Aspiring to Be the Next Amazon
Combining Direct Selling with Online Shopping, Market Taiwan Is Building a New Engine for Growth
Market Taiwan came into the direct selling arena of Taiwan relatively late. This year about 15,000 people participated in its annual convention. More than 200,000 people shop on its website, and more than 70,000 distributors are looking to make a fortune with this business. What is Market America’s business model? How is it going to become the next Amazon?
On the first weekend of May, about 15,000 people thronged into Nangang Exhibition Center for the biannual convention of the MLM company Market Taiwan. Marc Ashley, Market America COO and founder JR’s brother in law, flew in from the US to participate in the convention and share the new EMP.
The ticket to this two-day meeting costs NT$3800. Market Taiwan told us that nearly 18,000 tickets were sold—more than Jay Chou’s concert at Taipei Arena. The next convention will be held in November. Market America founders JR and Loren Ridinger will be present too, which indicates they take the Taiwanese market very seriously.
Market Taiwan entered the Taiwan market in August 2005. In just 3 years, it reached a turnover of more than NT$2 billion. Entering the Taiwan direct selling arena relatively late, it made its way to the top 10 in the first year. How did Market Taiwan grow so rapidly in Taiwan’s intensely competitive direct selling market?
COO Marc Ashley, who also took part in the founding of the company, took time to be interviewed by Business Today in his hectic four-day trip in Taiwan, sharing the successful experience of Market America and the story of how it was founded.
The success of Market America in the US was established in three stages. Stage one is the initial stage when JR founded the business. Marc remembers that JR had been an excellent direct selling agent. But the system JR participated in was not sound, thus his business was struggling to go up to the next level.
JR’s wife Loren and his brother Marc therefore suggested “Why don’t you start your own business?” In 1992, with tens of thousands US dollars, he founded Market America Inc. in North Carolina, US. Two years later, JR found a revolutionary nutrition supplement, and it became Market America’s main product. “The biggest feature of our product is that the grape seed, pine bark, and red wine extracts are in isotonic form, letting the human body absorb it completely and getting the nutrients more efficiently than with ordinary supplements.” Marc recalls rapid growth when the product was launched.
When you have a successful product, you also need a good marketing method. Market America promotes the product through one-to-one marketing, and shares profit with distributors in the forms of bonus and commission. And in 2010, Market America acquired an online shopping company, SHOP.COM. This cross-industrial combination has made the Internet another force for growth of Market America. Marc says Market America utilizes the Internet, builds a powerful database, helps distributors understand market information, and establishes organizations that cross geographic boundaries by various types of information. Thus there is no time or boundary limit on shopping and business development.
For example, when a customer registers to be a member on a Market America website, the customer will be assigned a distributor for service to ensure the customer has satisfactory shopping experience. For consumers, this makes up for the lack of instant consulting—the major shortcoming of online shopping. For distributors with Market America, this is one major advantage “because they don’t have to worry about having no one to sell products to.” Marc says, customers shop on the online platform, while distributors can grasp consumer dynamics, creating a win-win condition for each other.
With their own shopping platform, all the registered customers and distributors shop here, creating enormous website traffic. In the world of the Internet, website traffic means cash flow. Take the example of Market Taiwan portal. Its ranking on Alexa is even higher than that of books.com.tw.
Although Market America is a direct selling company, with innovative measures and cross-industrial partnership, other products are available on Market America websites. Currently on Market Taiwan portal, consumers can find products from stores including GoHappy, EcLife, Hola, iHouse, and Taaze. In addition to the convenience consumers are enjoying, they can earn Cashback on these products just like they do on Market Taiwan branded products. This is incredible for many people.
“Actually, our goal is to become the next Amazon, providing one-stop shopping services,” Marc emphasizes.
The success in the US let Market America actively expand overseas, and Asia is an important target. Eleven years ago, the corporate headquarters got a surprising statistic figure—nearly 35% of the distributors were Chinese in the US. Thus, Market Taiwan was established in 2005, the second market in Asia after Australia. Market Hong Kong was established two years later. The reason is simple. “Because Chinese people in Asia are active, especially those in Taiwan and Hong Kong,” says Marc. As for the mainland Chinese market, Market America is still observing due to the legal restrictions.
As the Internet, social networking websites, and mobile web have become prevalent, Market America’s online marketing model may not be unique today. Therefore, finding the next niche in the ever-changing world of the Internet is a test to business managers.
“Our goal is to become the next Amazon,” says confidently Market America COO Marc Ashley.