Mail order is the term used when you buy goods through means other than physically purchasing and picking them up in a store. The goods are usually delivered via a postal service. This style of business covers a huge diversity of goods and services.
The mail order service became a very popular form of ordering and receiving goods from the 1970s onwards. Home shopping catalogs were in abundance and you could buy practically anything you desired from them. The catalogs would stock every item you could want for the home and garden. You could buy clothes, washing machines, lawn mowers and toys without having to leave the comfort of your own home.
The home shopping catalogs still exist today and have thousands of items you can choose from. Payment is usually by credit card, check or on credit, which spreads the cost over a fixed flexible term. Once you have posted or telephoned your order all you have to do is wait for it to arrive by mail. Most shopping services use their own delivery vans or a postal service.
Today the mail order service is huge and so are the goods that can be ordered. With the Internet and the variety of online payment options, it has never been easier to shop from home. You can purchase food from supermarkets over the Internet and pay for them online. You can study for your college degree by mail order. You can even, if you feel like it, find a bride.
A great amount of people also run their own mail order service. Thousands of people around the world buy and sell goods over the Internet using websites such as Ebay and Amazon. For people in remote areas of the world, it may be the only way to receive certain goods which may not be available in their area.
One of mail order's biggest advantages for the seller is the marketing opportunity it presents. When you buy goods for cash in person in a store, the transaction usually ends there. When you buy in this way and pay by check or credit card the seller gains some significant information about you. They now have your name, home and email address, credit card details and purchasing habits.
This information can be used by the business for further marketing promotions and offers to you. You may after your purchase find yourself receiving unwanted circulars or Spam email. This is due to some businesses selling your personal information to other companies who want to market their products to you.
As with most businesses, there are pros and cons to mail order. The pros are ease of use, no need to leave the home and goods may be cheaper. The cons are that you may have to wait for your goods and your information may be sold to other companies. Buying goods such as clothing and furniture is difficult if they cannot be seen and felt in person. A one dimensional photograph doesn't always represent a product very well.