Calling itself a cross between Amazon and QVC, Market America is an Internet marketer and broker of products and services from a variety of categories, including apparel, beauty and personal care, electronics, entertainment, nutrition, and sports. Market America sells more than 2,500 of its own branded products (such as Isotonix, Motives, and Snap) and spotlights the offerings of 3,000 other retailers (including Sears, Staples, and Wal-Mart). In addition, the company manages UnFranchise, a network marketing business with more than 180,000 independent shopping consultants. The company was founded in 1992 by president and CEO James "JR" Ridinger. Market America acquired e-tailer SHOP.COM in late 2010.
The SHOP.com purchase is intended to blend Market America's marketing and brokering expertise with SHOP.COM's strength in technology and merchandising to create a "social shopping" movement capable of challenging some of the Internet's leading shopping destinations. SHOP.COM offers products from more than 2,000 merchants and boasts about 7 million users. (Market America boasts some 3 million registered customers worldwide.) As part of the deal, the two firms agreed to operate their websites separately.
Market America's independent shopping consultants operate under the company's UnFranchise business model, also referred to as "one-to-one marketing." The UnFranchise platform comes complete with a business plan, customizable Web portal, merchandising materials, and management system. To develop community relations, consultants can provide online assistance to shoppers in their areas and recruit potential UnFranchise consultants. Consultants earn commissions when shoppers purchase products and services through their Market America shopping portals. In 2010 Market America opened its UnFranchise business model to nonprofits. The company said individuals following its business model have netted more than $2 billion in commissions and retail profits since it was established.
The company has also worked to boost revenues through its ma Cashback program. Shoppers can pocket up to 35% cash back when they buy name-brand goods or Market America's proprietary brand products.
To bolster its position in Internet retailing, Market America has been expanding its operations outside the US. The company has international branches in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines. It plans to extend its reach to the UK, Mexico, Latin America, and other markets where it does not yet have a presence. – less