Headquartered in Guangzhou, Amway China runs a network of 252 retail shops in over 180 cities throughout China. With the rapid market expansion and sales force growth, working capital management, including receivables and sales incentive payments management, becomes challenging for both the company and the treasury functions, which collect receivables through shops holding over 380 bank accounts with local branches, and handle approximately half a million payments per month with few errors and failures.
Photo of Swati Mitra, Citi and Winnie Li.
Director of Finance Operations and Treasury
Founded in 1959, Amway is one of the world’s largest direct selling companies and operates in more than 80 countries and territories. Amway grew quickly in China from its market launch in 1995. Amway (China) Co., Limited (Amway China) has 7,700 employees and offers a flexible business opportunity to more than 300,000 people. Its business in 2010 reached RMB 21.9 billion. With the vision of “helping people live better lives”, Amway China provides high-quality products under the categories of Nutrilite food supplements, Artistry skincare and cosmetics, personal care, household cleaning products, and home tech equipments. For many years, Amway China has been in the list of top 100 foreign enterprises in China.
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To cope with the challenges of volume and complexity, Amway China sought to address five issues to achieve business excellence:
- Visibility and control of the funds.
- Liquidity centralisation.
- Unified card collection platform.
- Collection speed.
- Customised distributor payment channels.
Collecting funds from millions of sales people around the country has improved Amway China’s control of funds. In addition, realising liquidity centralisation through a sweeping arrangement and collection reconciliation has improved visibility and cash management.
Amway China’s treasury team also extended full support to its sales people so that they satisfy versatile individual payment channels and find bank financing support when it is required. Through promoting ‘cards’ as a payment tool, card collections now account for over 80% of Amway China’s total receivables at around RMB 1.8 billion with 1.5m transactions per month, up from 30% a short time ago.
With the unified card collection platform built by the Treasury Team, every shop across China enjoys a flat card collection rate which greatly saves on cost. Funds collected from cards of individual salespeople are directly transferred to Amway China’s HQ account without staying at the local shop accounts. Card collection information also contains the PO number which can be reconciled with matching data in the back office at the HQ. This, in turn, has also improved the company’s visibility and control of the funds. To consolidate this success, the company has expanded its collection channels to include online collections, which can accept transfers from over 100 banks.
For cash pickup, Citibank has brought a more efficient and effective cash solution to Amway China by crediting the HQ account directly after collecting the cash from local stores.
Amway China has millions of salespeople and has to pay bonuses in two batches per month. Through effective and customised payment channels with partnering banks, Amway China can process hundreds of thousands of payments in one day with almost 100% transaction success.
As part of its drive for further efficiencies, the company has centralised its treasury functions in the China headquarter. As a result, the treasury team consists of 15 people who manage the complete portfolio, including handling banking relationships, account management, card collection management, AP management, information reconciliation and related problem solving.
“Amway China has a cost effective collection solution. Collections are not only centralised automatically but also reconciled in a very short time. For payments, Amway China is able to complete hundreds of thousands of bonus payments every month in just one day. Through our value-added services, Amway China’s treasury team is well commended by all salespeople,” says Winnie Li, Director of Finance Operations and Treasury.