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Working paper

E-Communication in Personal Sales: Internet Usage and Performance

Interpersonal face-to-face communication is the key value creation aspect of direct selling business model. Nowadays more and more sellers employ virtual communication channels.                                     The study explores whether usage of Internet technologies for communication with customers brings benefits or extinguish performance of direct selling individual distributors. The research is based on the quantitative analysis of country-wide paper based survey from 5694 respondents. The statistical analysis of total sample revealed that usage of Internet in general does not give advantages for distributors. However, usage of person-to-person Internet communication tool, such as e-mail, allows achieving better performance as measured by earnings per hour worked and earning per month. Surprising is the fact that the most successful young distributors (at the age under 35 years) do not use Internet for communication with customers at all.  For distributors over 35 years old neither Internet nor e-mail usages have got impact on performance. In rural areas users of Internet communication tools show lower influence on performance. In big cities usage of e-mail provides significantly higher performance, but general usage of Internet does not. Consequently, the effects from usage of Internet technologies for communication with customers are achieved in case of person-to-person communication. Moreover the most productive sellers give priority to the live communication.