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Mail Order Retailing in Britain – A Business and Social History - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Mail Order Retailing in Britain: A Business and Social History

Richard Coopey, Sean O'Connell, and Dilwyn Porter


Since its inception in the late 19th century, Britain's mail order industry both exploited and generated social networks in building its businesses. The common foundation of the sector was the agency system; sales were made through catalogues held by agents, ordinary people in families, neighbourhoods, pubs, clubs, and workplaces. Through this agency system, mail order firms in Britain were able to tap social networks both to build a customer base and also obtain vital information on creditworthiness. This history of the British mail order industry combines business and social history to expla ... More

Keywords: agency system, catalogues, social networks, customer base, creditworthiness, Kay and Co, Empire Stores, Littlewoods, Grattan, logistics

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2005 Print ISBN-13: 9780198296508
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198296508.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Richard Coopey, author
Lecturer in History, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
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Sean O'Connell, author
Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Ulster
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Dilwyn Porter, author
Reader in History at University College Worcester and an honorary Visiting Research Fellow at the Business History Unit, London School of Economics
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