The Silicon Review
Written by Vishnu Vardhan Kulkarni
“Our business was built to provide people the means to establish a supplemental income based on consumer spending.”
Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM is an award-winning global ecommerce and digital marketing company that specializes in one-to-one marketing and is the creator of The Shopping Annuity®. The company’s mission is to provide a robust business system for entrepreneurs, while delivering a better way to shop for consumers. This revolutionary concept utilizes the power of people with that of the internet to create the ultimate online shopping destination.
The company employs close to 1,000 people globally and has generated over $10 billion in accumulated retail sales. Hundreds of its distributors, known as UnFranchise® Owners (UFOs), have earned in excess of $1 million in commissions.
They currently have global sites in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom as well as the U.S.
To highlight and further understand what Market America Worldwide stands for, I sat down with JR Ridinger, who serves as the company’s Founder, Chairman & CEO.
Q. As a journalist, I find Market America Worldwide quite striking. From the emotional branding standpoint, it has that appeal. How did you come up with the brand name?
For us, the name Market America Worldwide represents a system with tools and methodologies designed to help people attain the American dream. But Americans aren’t the only ones who share the desire to build the American dream — we feel everyone should be able to pursue a better life through entrepreneurism. As our business aspirations grew, Market America emerged into a global company whose transformation included adding on new markets representing new opportunities for growth in different countries and regions. Our business is unique because our distributors (UFOs) have the means to leverage their connections through the framework of our business structure and expand their business into different markets around the world — in essence, empowering entrepreneurs to become global entrepreneurs. It’s incredible to think all of that grew from Market America. While we started out in the land of opportunity, we’ve established a template for global growth which puts the American dream within reach for everyone. We’ve blossomed on a global scale because we understand the importance of investing in people.
Q. Given that Market America Worldwide is a global e-commerce and product brokerage company, how uniquely does it serve its customers’ needs?
As a global product broker, we’re able to source the best products with the best margins, meaning we can maximize the value in everything we do and pass that along directly to our UnFranchise® Owners and their customers as well as to all online shoppers worldwide to better serve their day-to-day shopping needs. We have our finger on the consumer pulse and offer in-demand products that are relevant to their current needs and which exceed consumer expectations. We’re high tech and high touch — meaning that every shopper has access to a personalized consultant who can answer their questions and help connect them with the right products. For us, it’s all about building connections and bridging the gaps between technology, people and products. In fact, one of our company mottos is “Built on Product. Powered by People.”
Q. Market America Worldwide provides a system for entrepreneurs to supplement their income while providing consumers a better way to shop. Splendid! Would you like to elaborate on this a bit more?
We’ve always felt the typical way of doing things with mass marketing and retailing was antiquated and impersonal. This approach centers on selling as many things to as many people as possible without any real regard for consumers, who are treated as commodities to be calculated, quantified and exploited. Instead of product quality and consumer well-being taking precedence, the bottom line and profits drive everything. To me, that’s just inherently wrong. We saw a way for consumers to insert themselves into the equation by becoming entrepreneurs. I think that’s the beautiful part. We’re all consumers, and now we can all become entrepreneurs. We all must buy things on a regular basis just to live in the world today. Our business was built to provide people the means to establish a supplemental income based on consumer spending. We help people tap into their buying power through a revolutionary concept known as the Shopping Annuity®.
Q. Tell us about your workforce and the culture within your company?
Being a family-owned company, our business has always maintained a strong family vibe. Despite our size, we operate more as a family business where everyone supports and encourages one another. “Family First” is truly central to our culture; not just a cliche. Many of our employees have been with us for more than 10 years, some over 20 years, some over 25 years and some since the beginning. That doesn’t just happen by accident. Market America Worldwide is built on the idea that people can achieve much more when cooperating rather than competing. That same mindset is engrained in our entire company culture. We are also very proud of the fact that throughout the company’s history, as we have continued to grow, we have continued to hire. As we have continued to add new talent to the company, we have also continued to provide raises to our staff, based on their tremendous work ethic and results rather than solely based on the level of success the company has attained each year. Our entire corporate team is all about teamwork, picking up the slack and helping one another keep everything operating smoothly. Throughout the years, we’ve been very fortunate that our company culture of teamwork has helped us maintain success while growing even closer to one another. In many ways, the multicultural nature of our company has served as a unifying force for our business, constantly reminding us of the human connections behind everything we do.
Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your UFOs faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?
We get a lot of positive feedback about our products, and it always makes us feel good to see the positive impact we’re having on someone’s life. But for me, it goes far beyond products and is really about the entrepreneurial opportunity behind it all, the UnFranchise Business. One recent success story that comes to mind involves a remarkable young man named Dritan Hodo. The son of immigrants, Dritan has built a hugely successful UnFranchise Business and has touched many lives in the process. He’s one of our brightest young stars and an emerging leader whose passion and drive are contagious. At our recent International Convention event, Dritan shared a deeply personal and emotional story about his life and what the UnFranchise Business means to him. He spoke about being able to spend more time with his parents when they needed him most. His story hit home for everyone because family is all we have when it’s all said and done. The fact that our business afforded this young man the time he needed to be with his family means more to me than I can even describe. Time’s value far exceeds that of money. It is the most precious commodity in life. Time is eternal, ethereal and forever slipping through our fingers. Dritan’s story reminded us of that and of the importance of being able to spend time on your terms. He reminded me of why I developed this company and the Shopping Annuity.
Q. What new initiatives does your company have in the works?
We now have a livestreaming service called SHOP LIVE™ that functions as a personalized shopping channel for UFOs, who can now host virtual presentations from anywhere, anytime, with the added dynamic of an interactive shopping experience that includes clickable “buy now” links that appear onscreen, allowing attendees to purchase products while they watch a SHOP LIVE broadcast. Another new endeavor for us is the addition of accepting more than 10 types of cryptocurrency via BitPay as payment methods on SHOP.COM sites in Canada, Hong Kong, UK, Australia, Malaysia as well as the U.S. And to make shopping online even more accessible, Market America Worldwide has partnered with Sezzle to offer their “buy now, pay later” service, which allows online shoppers to purchase all the items that they need, spreading the total cost into four payments over six weeks, interest-free and at no additional cost to online shoppers.
Q. You have shared quite a lot about Market America Worldwide’s unique business model. Tell us what you have done to make the work environment unique for all of your employees.
Much has changed about the world in the past 30 years and, during that time, our business has evolved in a litany of ways. We’ve cultivated strong connections with our local communities. For example, we work with area colleges and universities to foster new partnership possibilities and paid internships, which often lead to careers at Market America Worldwide. While plugged in at the local level, we’re also very much an international business. It’s an interesting dichotomy and one of the many things which makes us unique. Mutual success and teamwork are the concepts uniting our diverse workforce, and I think this is reflected and reinforced in the physical layout of our corporate headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. We have a massive open floor plan where leaders sit among their teams and open collaboration rules the day. In fact, our staff has adopted a simple yet powerful motto — “One Team, One Dream.” With our business, you are genuinely part of a team where your input, ideas and opinions matter. Most people are just trying to make it today, but with us, you make an impact!
Q. What is your final message to The Silicon Review readers and for your future employees?
Our message is simple. We are a company whose greatest strength comes from people – our UFOs and their customers and the extremely talented men and women who have joined the Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM family as employees from across the globe. Every time we succeed at introducing a gold-standard and relevant product to UFOs and their customers, it is 100% due to the expertise and dedication that comes directly from our employees. If you or someone you know is looking for a position with a company where your ideas and know-how are not only important but often are a part of the next advancement within a global organization, please visit our website (www.marketamerica.com/site/company) and consider applying for one of our current job openings!
*Earnings discussed are atypical and the success of any UnFranchise Owner will depend upon the amount of hard work, talent and dedication which he or she devotes to building his or her Market America business. For typical earnings, see www.market-america.info/mais