Mail order retailing is a form of retailing in which the seller communicates with customers and delivers their purchases using postal and courier services. 

It may also be defined as a form of retail trade where a seller's offer is made through newspaper or magazine advertisements, and interested customers can place an order by mail after reading the offer.

In essence, mail order retailing involves selling goods by mail. Customers can place orders with mail-order businesses without physically visiting the store.

Mail order business or retailing work like this: the seller's offer is made through advertisement and mail publicity.

On seeing the offer, interested customers will then place an order by mail, and the seller will then dispatch the goods to the customer via postal or courier service on receiving the order from the customers.

Mail order business

In mail order business, there is minimal interaction between the seller and the buyer, and the buyer seldom ever has the chance to check the goods before purchasing.

Characteristics of Mail order retailing

1. Sales are made through post: This is the distinctive characteristic sticks of the mail order business.

In mail order retailing, purchase orders are sent through mail.

Both the delivery of products and their payment are handled by the mail or post office.

2. Non-store retailing: Mail order retailing does not require a physical location to operate.

The majority of mail-order businesses' activities are conducted via the postal service.

Hence, mail shops retailer can begin operation without having a shops.

3. Means of advertisement: Mail orders rely heavily on advertisement.

Mail order business or retailers promote their business through print media like newspapers, magazines or electronic media.

The mail order retailer will include all pertinent information about the goods, including the price, description, and ordering process, in the advertisement.

4. Methods of payment: Payments for mail orders are made through Cash With Order (CWO) and Cash On Delivery (COD)

5. Means of storage: Since the majority of mail order retailers don't have physical stores, they keep their products in their warehouses up until they receive orders for them.

Advantages of mail order business/retailing

1. Less capital requirement: Less capital is required to start a mail order business because there is no need to rent a store, decorate stores, or hire salespeople.

The initial capital needed for a mail order business is therefore lower.

2. Reduce the risk of bad debt: Since the vast majority of mail order business only sell on a cash basis, the risk of bad debt is lower in mail order retailing

Indeed, in mail order business, the seller either receive payment in advance for their goods or get V.P.P

Valuable Payable Post, or V.P.P. is a system where the buyer pays the post the complete value of the goods when he received the goods.

3. Convenience: In a mail order business, when customers place an order for goods, the goods are delivered to the customer by postal or courier service.

As a result, the customer avoids the stress of traveling to pick up his items because he can receive them wherever is most convenient for him.

The time and effort required to go from one location to another to pick up the ordered products is spared.

A customer can order the products of their choice from the convenience of their home thanks to mail order retailing.

4. Ability to reach a wider market: A mail order retailer or business can advertise in newspapers, magazines, and other forms of media, which allows them to reach a large audience.

Indeed, the capacity to reach a large audience is what is causing the mail order business to be fast becoming a popular method of retailing.

5. Home delivery: Mail order companies offer their customers courier services so that the goods can be delivered right to their homes.

Disadvantages of Mail order retailing

1. Prone to fraud and other irregularities: One of the most prevalent drawbacks of mail order businesses is that they are vulnerable to fraud and other irregularities

The consumer may receive goods that are different in size or quality from what he actually orders since he only considers the description of the goods provided in the catalog when making a purchasing decision.

2. Not suitable for some goods: Products like those that are lightweight and durable are suitable for sales through mail order.

However, some products, such as those that are perishable, heavy, or intended for daily use, cannot be sold via mail order

Consequently, the range of products that a mail-order business can provide is limited.

3. Buyers cannot inspect goods: This is yet another disadvantage of mail order retailing.

The buyer cannot inspect goods before purchase. He has to rely on the description of the goods in the catalogue to make purchase decisions.

Therefore, mail order might not be suitable for goods that require personal inspection before being purchased.

4. Damage to goods: A mail order retailer have to worry about the possibility of goods being damaged while in transit because the majority of his products are delivered to the customer by postal or courier services.

Moreover, the mail order business' goods may be stolen while in transit, thereby increasing the operating cost of the business.

5. Takes time: Mail-order businesses have to rely heavily on the post office.

To buy goods, the consumer must make an order and wait for it to be delivered to the seller.

The customer will also have to wait for the shipped products to be delivered to him when the order reaches the seller


Delay in the receipt and delivery of mail order, may not augur well with the buyers, most especially, if the buyer requires the goods urgently.

Additionally, it is possible for customers' orders for good to get lost in transit.

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