Non-store retailing is the selling of goods and services outside the confines of a retail facility. It is a generic term describing retailing taking place outside of shops and stores (that is, off the premises of fixed retail locations and of markets stands). The non-store distribution channel can be divided into direct selling (off-premises sales) and distance selling, the latter including all forms of electronic commerce. Distance selling includes mail order, catalogue sales, telephone solicitations and automated vending. Electronic commerce includes online shopping, internet trading platforms, travel portals, global distribution systems and teleshopping. Direct selling includes party sales and all forms of selling in consumers’ homes and offices, including even garage sales.
Non-store retailing, sometimes also labelled ‘home shopping’, is consistently achieving double-digit growth, and slowly taking a bigger share of overall retailing. However, it still only represents six per cent of all retail sales in for instance the United Kingdom (http://rd.kpmg.co.uk/mediareleases/20981.htm). In some product markets, however, such as travel and books & media, the share is much higher. In Germany in 2009, 29 per cent of the population were already using the internet to book their holidays (http://www.v-i-r.de/cms/upload/bilder/df-2010/df-2010-web.pdf). According to Eurostat, 38 per cent of European consumers consider the internet as the most important source of information about travel  and 42 per cent of consumers purchased travel services over the internet in 2008.
The non-store distribution channel is marked by low entry thresholds. Compared to store retailing that requires a retail outlet, inventory, cash flow to hire staff and advertising, non-store retail start-ups usually have to invest little to reach out to potential buyers of the goods and services they offer. Non-store retailing is therefore not only used by established brick and mortar business retailers who develop an online bricks and clicks business model presence, but also by the individual pure play, often him- or herself a consumer, to create an EShop or to run sales parties. The rise of social media helps to connect sellers to potential buyers.
Under Community Law, non-store retailing is heavily regulated (http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/gen rights en.htm). The Distance Selling Directive 97/7/EC (Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000, the Doorstep Selling Directive 85/577/EEC, the E-Commerce Directive 2000/31/EC (http://ec.europa.eu/internal market/e-commerce/directive en.htm and Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 and the Audiovisual Services Directive 2010/13/EU (http://ec.europa.eu/avpolicy/reg/avms/index en.htm) are the principal regulatory tools to deal with the most technologically-intensive but also innovative distribution methods.
- Flash Eurobarometer 258, Survey on the attitudes of Europeans towards tourism, p.39
- Commission Staff Working Document, Report on cross-border e-commerce in the EU, SEC(2009) 283 final, p.5. Based on Eurostat, Information society statistics (2009). Data extracted on 3 February 2009