Original Research

The rivalry between online and direct selling – Is there a winner?

Marius Wait
Acta Commercii | Vol 19, No 1 | a679 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v19i1.679 | © 2019 Marius Wait | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 June 2018 | Published: 29 January 2019

About the author(s)

Marius Wait, Department of Marketing Management, School of Consumer Intelligence and Information Systems, College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, South Africa


Orientation: With the advancement of technology and intense competition, many traditional direct selling companies have had to include an online sales channel to their offerings.

Research purpose: This study investigated the adoption of technology concerning online selling in the direct selling environment.

Motivation for the study: This study investigated whether there is a ‘winner’ between direct selling and online selling, as well as identifying the threats, impact and future of online selling in the direct selling environment.

Research design, approach and method: The study adopted a qualitative approach. A postcard-type, open-ended questionnaire was used to collect data from the directors of the direct selling companies. The collected data was analysed using inductive content analysis.

Main findings: The main results indicate that online selling is here to stay and there is no winner between these two forms of selling.

Practical/managerial implications: Managers should adopt a flexible approach to multichannel retailing as consumers dictate the consumption of sales channels in a multichannel sales arena.

Contribution/value-add: Although this paper contributes on three levels – namely, theoretical, methodological and practical – it is the practical contribution that adds the biggest value and there is no golden formula in the structure of this multichannel sales system.


online selling; direct selling; multichannel selling; postcard type questionnaire


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