Non-store retailing is the selling of goods and services outside the confines of a retail facility. It is a generic term describing retailing taking place outside of shops and stores (i.e., off the premises of fixed retail locations and of markets stands). The non-store distribution channel can be divided into direct selling (off-premises sales) and distance selling, the latter including all forms of electronic commerce. Distance selling includes mail order, catalogue sales, telephone solicitations, and automated vending. Electronic commerce includes online shopping, Internet trading platforms, travel portals, global distribution systems, and teleshopping. Direct selling includes party sales and all forms of selling in consumers' homes and offices, including even garage sales.
E-commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, as consumers become more comfortable with the concept and their options increase. Flash deal sites have been the trend of the moment, where consumers generally have a membership with a specific site and are given access to a limited-time price on a good. E-commerce sites now cover almost every nook and cranny of the retail space. You can go to the wildly successful Alibaba.com to buy machinery from Asia. You can go to CustomMade.com to purchase a good made specifically for you by one of those same machines. With all the e-commerce growth comes interesting trends relating to consumers becoming more comfortable with making purchase on their mobile phones and tablets. Mobile phones also aid purchases everywhere now more than ever, and play a crucial role in any retailer's marketing strategy.
In total, non-store retailing accounts for a relatively small percentage of total retail sales, but it is growing and very important with certain types of merchandise, such as life insurance, cigarettes, magazines, books, CDs, and clothing. One type of non-store retailing used by such companies as Avon, Electrolux, and many insurance agencies is in-home selling. Such sales calls may be made to preselected prospects or in some cases on a cold call basis. A variation of door-to-door selling is the demonstration party. Here one customer acts as a host and invites friends. Tupperware has been very successful with this approach. Vending machines are another type of non-store retailing. Mail order is a form of non-store retailing that relies on product description to sell merchandise. The communication with the customer can be by flyer or catalog. Magazines, CDs, clothing, and assorted household items are often sold in this fashion. Mail order offers convenience but limited service, and it is an efficient way to cover a very large geographical area when shoppers are not concentrated in one location.