mail order

(redirected from Mailorder)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Financial.

mail order

1. an order for merchandise sent by post
a. a system of buying and selling merchandise through the post
b. (as modifier): a mail-order firm

Mail Order


a form of nonstore retailing in which orders are received and delivered by mail.

Mail order originated in 1887, when the largest American mail-order houses, Montgomery Ward and Sears Roebuck, were founded; at first, these houses serviced primarily a rural market. Mail order developed in prerevolutionary Russia in the early 20th century, and the largest mail-order businesses were the mail-order departments of the Miur and Meriliz (Moscow), Aleksandr (St. Petersburg), and Petrokokki (Odessa) department stores.

In the USSR, mail order is a complement to the network of stores in small cities and rural settlements where it is economically inexpedient to have stores with full assortments of goods. In 1973 orders by mail accounted for about 30 percent of all retail sales of spare parts for motorcycles, motor scooters, and bicycles; more than 5 percent of retail book sales; and about 3 percent of retail sales of phonograph records. Sales of consumer commodities in stores amount to no more than 25 percent of turnover, whereas mail orders account for 84 percent.

The types of goods retailed through mail order are determined largely by the extent to which particular goods are produced and to which rational norms of consumption and supply have been achieved; in the latter case, this applies primarily to durable goods. Mail order also supplies items in occasional and rare demand having many varieties that are not interchangeable; such items include radio parts, photographic and sports goods, and stationery.

More than 50 percent of mail-order items are handled by specialized and general centers of Posyltorg (Mail-order Trade Office), part of the Ministry of Trade of the RSFSR and the chief organization dealing with mail-order in the USSR. Mail-order operations are also carried out by the mail-order departments of the Gostinyi Dvor department store (Leningrad) and the Central Department Store of the Servicemen’s Trade Enterprise (Moscow), as well as by the enterprises Kniga—Pochtoi (Books by Mail) and Semena—Pochtoi (Seeds by Mail). The Cooperative Mail Order Trade Office, an enterprise of the Central Union of Consumers’ Societies of the USSR, carries on small-scale wholesale trade with the stores of the consumers’ cooperatives, supplying them with goods by mail.

Mail-order trade is developing in other socialist countries as well. In the German Democratic Republic, for example, it is carried out by Versandhaus in Leipzig.

In capitalist countries, the mail-order business is considered to be a supplementary form of selling goods and is carried out by major department stores as well as by mail-order houses. In the developed capitalist countries it is handled by highly mechanized enterprises stocking a wide range of goods; production is controlled by electronic computers. In 1973 orders by mail in retail trade totaled 4 percent in the USA and Great Britain, 5 percent in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1.2 percent in France, 0.5 percent in Italy, and 1 percent in Belgium and the Netherlands. The largest mail-order houses in Western Europe are Necker-mann, Quelle, and Otto Versand (Federal Republic of Germany) and La Redoute and Galeries Lafayette (France). The largest in the USA are Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward.


References in periodicals archive ?
Deep rose pink 'Ava' agastache received the 2005 Green Thumb Award from the Mailorder Gardening Association for good reasons--its extended bloom season and long-lasting flower color.
net) and via Celtic Mailorder (Tel: 0141 550 1888).
Man's catalogue of mailorder misery is too thick a volume for the combined fingers of the world ever to finish turning its pages.
SureScripts is working on getting mailorder pharmacies to sign on to provide data.
After months of bombardment by local merchants, mailorder houses, Hollywood moviemakers, and scores of other folk who merchandise Christmas, I am hardly in the mood now to listen to carolers or eat fruitcake.
Drunken ex-sheriff Kevin Sorbo is hired to escort a trio of mailorder brides back to Carson City.
Under the REMS, which was fully implemented in May 2011, prescribers of rosiglitazone must be certified, and the drug can be dispensed only from one of four speciality mailorder pharmacies to patients with documentation to prove that the prescriber has discussed with them the potential increased risk of MI associated with the drug--and that they are either already taking rosiglitazone, or are unable to achieve glycemic control on other medications, and "in consultation with their health care provider, have decided not to take pioglitazone for medical reasons.
It is no accident that January has officially been proclaimed National Mailorder Gardening Month by the Mailorder Gardening Association (www.
During September, internet and mailorder sales were up 11.
com in June stated that pharmacists are coming up against a bear of an enemy in mailorder prescription programs, where consumers get the opportunity to buy their prescription drugs in bulk and at a big savings than what they can purchase them for at retail.