What is non-store retailing? Definition and examples

Non-store retailing refers to retailing that takes place outside traditional brick-and-mortar (physical) locations. 

There are many different forms of retailing that do not occur at a physical retail space, such as electronic commerce, off-premise direct selling, and distance selling. 

One of the best examples of non-store retailing is the e-commerce giant Amazon. Amazon does not have a physical store where consumers go to buy products but sells products to consumers from its website. 

The three main types of non-store retailing are: direct selling, distance selling and online selling. 


Direct selling

Direct selling is one of the oldest forms of non-store retailing. It involves retailing goods and services directly to the consumers (at their house or at their workplace).

According to the FTC: “Direct selling is a blanket term that encompasses a variety of business forms premised on person-to-person selling in locations other than a retail establishment, such as social media platforms or the home of the salesperson or prospective customer.”

There are two main business models for direct selling:

Single-level marketing – this is a single-tiered system in which a sellers are stand-alone business operators.

Multi-level marketing – this is a tiered system in which sellers profit from direct sales to customers and by sponsoring other sellers and receiving commission from their sales. 


Distance selling

This involves selling goods or services through digital TV, by mail order or by phone or text message.


Online selling

Online selling refers to selling products or services over the Internet. Buyers land on a seller’s website, select something, and arrange for its delivery. Most retailers now provide online shopping facilities for customers. In fact, many companies only sell online and have no physical shop that people can visit. This form of non-store retailing has significantly grown in popularity over the past couple of decades.

Online selling has become a great tool for small businesses to have their own online store and website to sell their products and expand their reach.


Video – E-Commerce