Not sold in stores

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Not sold in stores or not available in stores, also known as "TV only", is a marketing strategy whereby goods are heavily advertised on television or online and purchased directly from the supplier or manufacturer. The order is usually placed through a 1-800 number call center and the payment by credit card (formerly C.O.D). The selling point of this approach is that the item is too "cutting edge" for a store. Conversely, the "not sold in stores" label can be interpreted to be a detriment, if one takes it to mean that no established retailers are willing to give their imprimatur to the merchandise.

In the last ten years, products "not sold in stores" have expanded from advertising on television almost exclusively to advertising on the internet. Selling on the internet also has reduced both the transaction costs of the selling through the automation of check-out and payment (no more paid phone operators) and the cost of the products themselves due to exemption from sales taxes. This trend of advertising on the internet has further distinguished the not sold in stores genre from that of "As seen on TV!".

Despite the increased internet activity, advertising on television remains the primary means that products marketed in this fashion reach the public eye. Since 1993 both the "not sold in stores" and the "as seen on TV" factions have moved from simple sixty-second commercials on late-night or cable television to one to three-hour long "infomercials".

"Not sold in stores" is beginning to be an advertising research tool. Items that do not actually exist are "sold" and the number of reactions determines whether the product might make a profit.


  • By not selling in stores, products can be warehoused in and shipped from a centralized location instead of managing inventory over a large number of stores, reducing the amount of unsold product (and thus reducing overhead).
  • Online shoppers can conveniently shop for various items (such as electronics, jewelry, clothes, etc.) with their Internet connection.
  • If an item is not sold in a store, the shopper will have the item they purchased delivered to their home, saving gas in their cars.
  • The item that the shopper purchased can also be shipped to the retail store. For example, if a shopper purchased a laptop at, he can have it shipped to his local Best Buy store, where he can pick it up.
  • Online inventories are much more diverse than retail store inventories; therefore, it is more likely that a shopper will find what he or she is looking for online.
  • Special discounts are available for online only purchases. These discounts are only valid if the item is purchased online.


  • For people without online payment options, (credit cards, debit cards, etc.) "Not sold in stores" can annoy them because the shopper must purchase a gift card or store credit card to purchase items online. Those who do not wish to do this must find another retailer that sells their desired item in a retail store.
  • Online scams are frequent problems when shoppers purchase items online.
  • Refunds are sometimes not possible when purchasing from either a television advertisement or from an online vendor.
  • When shopping for clothes or jewelry online, it is not possible to try them on or feel its texture. One can only see an image for the apparel.
  • When shopping for musical instruments online, it is not possible to listen to the instrument's sound. How an instrument sounds is vital for musicians.
  • Shopping as a social outing cannot be experienced online.
  • The purchaser is generally required to pay at least a portion of the cost of shipping, partially negating the cost advantages. Furthermore, a product purchased remotely will spend a number of days in the shipping system, as opposed to retail purchases in stores which can be claimed at the point of purchase.

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