Mail Order Retailing in Britain A Business and Social History
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 More...
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Publisher: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Size: 6.00" wide x 9.00" long x 0.75" tall
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, but also to obtain vital information on creditworthiness. In this, the first comprehensive history of the British mail order industry, the authors combine business and social history to fully explain the features and workings of this industry. They show how British general mail order industry firms such as Kay and Co., Empire Stores, Littlewoods, and Grattan grew from a range of businesses as diverse as watch sales or football pools. A range of business innovations and strategies were developed throughout the twentieth century, including technological development and labour process rationalisation. Indeed, the sector was in the vanguard of many aspects of change from supply chain logistics to computerization. The social and gender profile of the home shopper also changed markedly as the industry developed. These changes are charted, from the male-dominated origins of the industry to the growing influence of women both within the firm and, more importantly, as the centre of the mail order market. The book also draws parallels and contrasts with the much more widely studied mail order industry of the United States. The final section of the book examines the rise of internet shopping and the new challenges and opportunities it provided for the mail order industry. Here the story is one of continuity and fracture as the established mail order companies struggle to adjust to a business environment which they had partly created, but which also rested on a new range of core competencies and technological and demographic change.
Sean O'Connell's first monograph, The car in British Society: Class, Gender and Motoring (Manchester University Press, 1998) was part of the shift in British social and cultural history away from the study of production towards the analysis of consumption and consumers. His more recent projects have continued this interest. Among topics he has analyzed have been the history of men's consumer magazines, and the history of "joyriding." He has published his work in journals such as Economic History Review, Twentieth Century British History, and the British Journal of Criminology. His research has been supported by grants from the ESRC, the Leverhulme Trust, and the AHRC. His interest in the issue of consumer credit began with his co-authorship (with Dilwyn Porter and Richard Coopey) of Mail Order Retailing in Britain: A Business and Social History (Oxford University Press, 2005) and culminates with this monograph on working class experiences of consumer credit since 1880.
|General Mail Order Retailing in Britain: Origins and Development to 1939|
|The Evolution of Mail Order Retailing in Post-war Britain|
|Working Class Life, Consumer Credit, and the Making of Agency Mail Order|
|Mail Order Agency in Post-War Britain: The Agent, the Company, and the Consumer|
|Inside the Firm: Mail Order, Efficiency, and Rationalization - From Personal to Organizational Control|
|Disconnecting the Personal: Computers and Mail Order|
|The Next Shopping Revolution|