Mail order, also known as direct marketing, has been around for over a hundred years and still remains popular today.
Most people enjoy receiving packages in the mail and thanks to the Internet, it is easier than ever to start this type of business. Whether customers order products online or mail in an order form, they enjoy the convenience of shopping in their own home or business at a time that works for them. Understanding how mail order works is the first step in deciding if this type of business appeals to you.
You can manufacture and sell your own products, or you can buy products from manufacturers, wholesalers or distributors to offer to your customers. Whether you create your own product or buy a product from another company, research is required to determine if there is a market for the items you’re most interested in offering. The products you buy must be low-cost so you can mark them up to make a profit. Include advertising, packaging and shipping when you calculate the price to charge for your products.
Displaying Your Goods
Since your prospective buyers cannot touch or heft your goods like they can in a store, you must find ways to showcase your products so people feel confident buying from you. This means using plenty of photos and descriptive copy to explain the features and benefits of each item you sell. This information should be published on your website if you sell on the Internet or displayed in a catalog or flyer if you receive orders through the mail. You may want to offer both ordering methods or use your catalog to encourage people to visit your website for more information.
Making it easy for people to place an order is part of making mail order profitable, so you need a credit card payment processing system. If you sell via the Internet, sign up for an ecommerce package that includes a shopping cart and credit card processing. To process sales via the phone or from order forms, you need a credit card system such as an online service or a machine that allows you to type in the customer’s credit card information and submit it to the bank for processing.
If you keep all of the products you sell in your home or a warehouse, you’re ready to package the order and ship it to the person once their payment goes through. Another option is drop shipping so you don’t have to buy and warehouse all of the products you sell. With drop shipping, you set up accounts with companies willing to ship the products directly from their warehouse to your customer once the order is submitted. This saves you the cost of buying and storing the inventory as well as packaging and shipping products.