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The Benefits of Mail Ordering

Aug 17, 2007
Mail order is an American innovation - soliciting, receiving, and shipping orders mainly by mail; strictly speaking, it is a way of doing business rather than a business in itself. Despite the rapid advance of transportation and the shortening of the time between city and farm, mail order has continued to grow in popularity since its inception in the early 1870's.

Today it would be difficult to find a family which has not at one time or another made some purchase through the mails. So thoroughly integrated in the life of the community is mail order that many are unaware, when they send a subscription to a magazine, an order to the local department store, or a contribution to a favorite charity, that they are, in fact, mail order customers.

The main reason many prefer mail order is price. The large mail order companies' established policy of lower prices for standard quality merchandise is associated in the public mind with all mail order. If this reputation is sometimes abused by new or smaller companies, the customer has learned to call upon the cooperation of a host of official agencies in getting satisfaction.

Then, there are a good number of people who shop by mail out of curiosity; they might be called comparison shoppers. The writer has read hundreds of letters from people who admitted frankly that their only motive in sending for a product was to see what it was like.

People also shop by mail because it is the only way certain products or services can be obtained. Specialty merchandise, home kitchen products, glamorized regional goods, correspondence courses, and individualized novelties fall in this category.

Finally, there are people who prefer mail shopping for products and services of a personal or intimate nature. Hundreds of thousands of marriage manuals are sold through the mails annually, although such books are available on any book counter. Urine analysis can be obtained in any drug store; yet several laboratories do a substantial mail order business with this service.

Not only has the buying public taken to mail order, but an ever increasing number of businesses. Mail order departments are responsible for a good part of the annual gross sales of most of the large department stores. Manufacturers, insurance companies, book publishers, whole-salers, now look to the mail for that extra 15% or 20% sales that spells the difference between profit and loss.

For a short period in the last ten to fifteen years, as the giant mail order companies began to establish retail outlets in the large cities, it appeared that the trend was away from mail order; but this was temporary. In effect, these retail outlets made an entirely new public mail-conscious. Today, a trip to any of the stores will find customers scanning the pages of the huge, colorfully illustrated catalogs, fascinated by the array and variety of products, ordering items not in the store (but probably available only a few steps away in a nearby store).

The case histories of the mail order Horatio Algers would fill a tome the size of one of those familiar catalogs, but it is not with them that we are concerned. Our task is to show how anyone with limited capital can get into the business.

As already indicated, mail order can be a business in itself or a department in an established enterprise. The large companies have the funds to hire experienced people for organizing such subsidiary departments; but the small businessman, storekeeper, mechanic, farmer, housewife, need a less expensive way; it is for them that this book is intended. Also for the worker who cannot afford to quit his job but wishes to try mail order as a part-time vocation (evenings and weekends). The resourceful but shy individual who has always looked on mail order as a business ideally suited to his personality should find here the information needed in getting started at last.
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