Distance selling is characterized by the fact that the customer does not purchase goods in a retail store but, for example, browses through a catalog, brochure or online store or watches teleshopping programs and then places an order. Depending on the retailer, the order can be placed either by telephone, e-mail, letter, fax, as an online order or directly from the representative. Following order acceptance, the merchant at the distance retailer packages the goods, creates the invoice and shipping documents, and contracts a shipping service provider for delivery. He is also responsible for checking and processing returns. Several types of distance selling can be distinguished:
- Mail order
- Ambulatory trade
- Direct sales
Mail order: Ordering from the catalog
Classic mail order still plays an important role in distance selling today. As a rule, customers select the products they want from a catalog sent to them or from the retailer’s online store. The order can be placed either via the Internet, by telephone, by fax or by mail.
E-commerce: convenient online shopping
E-commerce covers all distance selling activities that are carried out via the Internet. Online stores, in which products are presented using photos and descriptions, are primarily used for this purpose. In e-commerce, B2B, B2C and even C2C offers can be found.
Ambulatory commerce: mobile sales
The trader uses a sales cart to bring his goods to the customer. Typical examples are market wagons at weekly markets, food stands at events or traders at fairs. Here, the customer buys his goods directly from the cart and can take them home immediately.
Teleshopping: sales presentation on television
Teleshopping is a form of distance selling in which the customer watches shopping channels on television. In this case, products are presented, explained and advertised on television by trained television sales staff in product demonstrations. In most cases, the order is placed by telephone, but increasingly also via the Internet.
Direct selling: sales without intermediaries
Distance selling without intermediaries is known as direct selling. In this form of distance selling, products are sold directly from the manufacturer to the end customer. In addition to the company’s own mail order sales, there is also the option of selling the goods through a factory outlet. One concept that is becoming increasingly established is sales parties. This involves holding a sales event at a customer’s home to which friends are invited. Sales are handled directly at the event after the products have been presented.
Assortments in distance selling
In distance selling, two basic types of retailers can be distinguished. Universal mail order companies offer their customers a wide range of products from various product ranges. Their range is often similar to that of department stores and includes, for example, clothing, home textiles, multimedia, sporting goods and much more. In contrast, there are so-called special mail order companies that limit themselves to a specific range of products. Specializations of this type represented in distance selling relate, for example, to electronic goods, DIY supplies, erotic articles or toys.
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