Think global and act local.This is the philosophy followed by e-commerce based Direct Selling company QNet in India. The 16-year old Asian direct selling company is a comparatively young player in an industry dominated by larger direct selling giants.
With the power of e-commerce fueling its growth, QNet has expanded from its heart in South East Asia to more than 100 countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, Central Asia, East and West Africa and most recently Europe and Russia.
In India, QNet has been doing business for more than a decade and has experienced its fair share of challenges battling allegations of “prize chits and money circulation”, which the company strongly denies.
Zaheer Merchant, Director of Corporate Affairs, QNet, spoke to Dilip Kumar Jha about ongoing issues and futures plans for Indian markets. Edited excerpts:
There are allegations for cheating against you. Where have you gone wrong ?
We have not gone anywhere. We are a genuine e-commerce company present in Indian markets for 13 years with mega future plans. India requires a regulator for direct selling segment. QNet appeals for regulation at the earliest in order for genuine companies to operate without fear of being accused of running any sort of “scheme”.
Despite having a fully legal structure complying with all Indian government regulations and paying the relevant taxes and duties, QNet is being subjected to various legal challenges arising from baseless claims. If a clear legislation was in place, the investigators would be able to see as much as apply, that QNet’s operations are legal, compliant and transparent.
This has not just affected our business, but also impacted the reputation of QNet negatively on the global platform. If our intention was to make quick money and run, why would we fight to clear our name? We will continue to work through the challenges with our customers, the authorities and the government to identify solutions.
Why going has become tough for QNet in India?
India’s investment climate evidently has challenges. Many multinational companies want to come to India and see it as the last frontier, however they are cautious. India's regulatory landscape will no doubt evolve to provide a safer business environment for foreign companies. Policies need to be created to regulate emerging industries such as direct selling.
Despite our challenges in India, we remain committed to our distributors in
India. We are investing in manufacturing facilities and new product development here. We already produce some of our watches in India and our energy drink nutriplus™ was created especially for the India market with production in Himachal Pradesh, which we eventually want to take to our global markets. Shifting production to India will give us a cost benefit of between 8 and 12%.
What is your strategy for Indian markets?
One of the things that sets QNet apart in this industry, is the depth and range of our product offerings. We offer more than 30 different brands of products classified into 9 different product categories that focus on enhancing the lives of our customers and promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle. Currently, QNet offers a wide spectrum of products ranging from wellness, skincare and nutrition to Swiss-made watches and jewellery. We also offer services, including vacation packages and online learning courses.
Three years ago we decided to change our business strategy for Indian markets with product development by focusing on a niche; choosing products that added value and made a difference to the lives of our customers. The overreaching product criterion since then has been ‘Life Enhancement’.
This shift from merely lifestyle to life enhancement allowed us to expand our product offerings into education, weight management, air purification and water filtration. Not all products are currently available in India but we are working towards making more of these available to our customers in India.
There are a few other unique aspects we look into when evaluating new products. As a company, we follow a vegetarian philosophy. All meals served at company events are vegetarian and we also promote vegetarianism as a means to a healthy lifestyle.
This is reflected in our product strategy as well. We do not allow any non-vegetarian ingredients in our consumable products and are against animal testing. We also fight against the growing rate of obesity, diabetes and other degenerative diseases by reducing sugar, artificial sweeteners or chemicals in our products.
Why is skepticism about QNet’s wellness and energy product range?
Our wellness and energy range is sold under the brand, Amezcua. We have an exclusive license to distribute products such as the Bio Disc and the Chi Pendant, two of our most popular products in this range. The glass from these products is produced in a state-of-the-art technology facility in Germany, which has more than 100 years experience in glass manufacturing and is known as the leading manufacturer of glass in the world.
This glass is energized using proprietary technology in order to create the finished product. We have never made any other claims apart from the ones clearly shown on our website and marketing materials for Amezcua products.
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