A mail order business is a business where orders for products are placed over the phone, through a catalog, or online. Sometimes, a business that also has brick and mortar locations will offer customers the opportunity to purchase products through the mail, but this does not make it a mail order business. This type of business usually does not have any physical locations.
A mail order business may reach out to customers in a few different ways. Catalogs are commonly mailed to customers, particularly when the business is just starting out. The customer may then flip through the catalog at his or her leisure, choose what he wants, and place a phone call or fill out a form to order the products. As the business develops a base of customers who regularly orders from the catalog, they may cut back on the amount of catalogs they send, only mailing catalogs to people who have ordered in the past.
Online advertisements are another great way for a mail order business to reach customers. Advertisements can be targeted to specific customers based on what they search for. Customers may then go to the company's website to browse and order items. Online orders have become the primary business model for many of these businesses, because many people prefer to do all their shopping online, and do not wish to receive catalogs in the mail. A business of this type may also offer incentives such as free shipping to online customers.
In addition, customers are typically not charged sales tax on an order from a mail order business, unless the headquarters of the business is located in the customer's home state. This may change in the future, however, since more and more customers are doing all of their shopping completely through catalogs or online. Many mail order businesses offer free return shipping, to make it easier for customers to return or exchange items.
In addition, the customer is frequently able to choose the shipping method, meaning that it is possible to place an order, choose overnight shipping, and have the item the next day. Because there is no physical store for customers to visit, it is important that employees who work in a call center of a mail order business always provide great customer service and fix any problems quickly. Loyal shoppers of these businesses are often sent discount codes in their email to encourage them to continue to make purchases.