Sales channels to reach your customers

Distance selling

Guide

Distance selling means selling by:

  • phone
  • mail order
  • email
  • the internet
  • digital television

Advantages of distance selling

Distance selling is an effective tactic for:

  • approaching hard-to-reach customers
  • repeat orders from established customers
  • reaching new markets through the internet

Costs are far lower than if you visit customers, or have retail premises.

Disadvantages of distance selling

The downsides of distance selling include:

  • you can't demonstrate your product
  • it can be difficult to convince the customer to trust you without meeting them

When to use distance selling

Many businesses find distance selling cost-effective for standard products such as books and CDs - the customer already knows what they'll be getting.

Distance selling can also be a very useful way of getting repeat orders once you have built the initial relationship by meeting the customer.

Using the telephone means that as well as prompting the customer to reorder or buy new products, you can give customers an opportunity to ask questions.

Rules on distance selling

Businesses using distance selling must comply with a range of regulations.

If you are selling to consumers, you must provide certain basic information such as your business' name, contact details and product, delivery and pricing information. The customer generally has the right to return goods within a specified period. Read more about distance and online selling rules and consumer contracts.

If your business is a limited company or limited liability partnership and you have a website, it must show details such as your full name and geographic address.

There are also restrictions on privacy and data protection in direct marketing, and on email marketing to individuals.

See selling online and the law.