Marketing local products:
Short and long distribution channels
[ Summary ]
Marketing local products via short distribution channels
The different forms of marketing
4.4 Distance selling
The easiest products to sell using distance selling methods are
those that keep well without any need for continuous refrigeration.
Examples include marketing cheese by mail order - especially by Vino
Selección in Spain - but this form of selling requires highly
professional logistics, and success stories are few and far between.
The products chiefly sold by this method are wines (which represent
70% of the turnover of Vino Selección) and canned food for which the
high price per kilo warrants the transport cost.
A distinction needs to be made between mail order selling and
distance selling to loyal customers:
4.4.1 Mail order selling
Mail order selling consists of sending to potential customers - who
know neither the company nor the product - a catalogue from which
they are able to purchase goods. It is a form of marketing that
calls for very heavy investment (costs of setting up and publishing
a catalogue, a customer file, mailshots, professional logistics and
maintaining a complete range of products). Moreover, as it entails a
high risk, considerable start-up capital is vital. For small
companies that nevertheless wish to sell by this means, the most
efficient solution is to join forces with existing mail order firms,
rather than trying to start up their own system with an official
catalogue. However, it is always possible to maintain a customer
file on the basis of a simple leaflet: this resembles distance
selling to loyal customers.
4.4.2 Distance selling
Distance selling consists of catalogue selling to customers who
already know the company and/or product. It is a natural extension
of direct selling. Once they have returned home, consumers like to
buy products that they have tasted during their holidays, at a
festive occasion or as a gift. By using the customer file, 
companies can target potential buyers who already know the company
and the product. The catalogue is easy to create using simple
equipment (a photocopier, for example) and the farm itself can send
out mailshot advertising, provided that it offers a wide enough
range of products.
The success of a system of distance or mail order selling relies on
two closely related requirements: continually updating the customer
file and developing customer loyalty. However, the profit margins on
products - up to 40% - can quickly be swallowed up by promotion
costs. Rigorous management of the customer file is vital to
maintaining a high percentage of return orders.
- Products which keep well.
- Festive products or ones that are stored (e.g. wine).
- A file of loyal customers.
- Management of the customer file.
- Stock and cash flow management.
- Maintaining the human relations aspect of selling.
- Quality/price ratio because of competition.
- Maintaining links with the area.
 Loyalty cards, tombolas (customers
participating in the tombola have to indicate
their address on a coupon) and collecting
addresses from customer cheques are some
ways to set up a customer file.