The manufacturer, who decides to by-pass 'the trade' and to sell his products directly to the consumer by mail order, involves himself in a distribution method which demands even more specialized techniques than those we have so far considered.

Mail order trading is essentially a twentieth-century phenomenon which depends for its success upon the existence of a fully reliable postal service. In company with many trading innovations, it began in the United States and it is in that country that nearly all its techniques have been evolved. Its development in Britain has been somewhat slower, partially because this is a much smaller market and also because the proportion of people living in or near large urban areas, well supplied with shops and stores, is greater here than in America. Nevertheless, mail order plays an increasing part in the pattern of retail distribution in the United Kingdom and the opportunities it offers should not be ignored by the enterprising ONLINE MARKETING Manager.

It is surprising that the special techniques which apply to mail order are so seldom expounded to students of marketing. The omission is serious because the changing pattern of social life which is causing-and will continue to cause-changes in the distribution of consumer goods, suggests that the public's acceptance of 'buying through the post' is likely to increase considerably in the years to come.

There are several major attractions in the use of mail order distribution:

1. the manufacturer retains complete control over the distribution of his product;

2. the entire nation is his market; yet he does not incur the expense of a nation-wide sales force;

3. the location of his premises can be outside urban areas where overhead costs will be lower (there are, however, two provisos: he must be close to good postal facilities; he must also have access to an adequate supply of labour).

4. by using the postal services for the carriage of his merchandise, he is saved the cost of providing his own transport facilities.

The difficulties of mail order trading are:

1. the total lack of face-to-face selling at any stage of the distribution process;

2. the need for products with unique selling propositions;

3. the need for specialized ONLINE MARKETING skills.

The Scope of Mail Order Distribution

In Britain, the estimated number of mail order businesses is well in excess of two thousand. They range in size from giant organizations such as The Great Universal Stores to one-man businesses operated from private homes.

It has been said that anything which will sell can be sold by mail order. If this is an exaggeration, it is certainly true that the scope of mail order trading is extremely wide and varied. Product lines range from concrete garages to chocolates for the connoisseur, wines tools, kitchen equipment and a vast assortment of clothing items. In recent years Unit Trusts have joined the more traditional mail order lines such as correspondence courses, books and gramophone record clubs.

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