Home Shopping Catalogues – A Brief History

The historical chronology of home shopping catalogues and mail order is a few centuries old and spans continents. It is believed that the very first mail order catalogue was implemented in the 18th century, as Benjamin Franklin introduces a catalogue regarding scientific and academic books in 1774.

Since that time, the entire concept of selling items through mail order has been enlarged and improved upon by scores of entrepreneurs all over the world. There are now many types of products today that are marketed by mail order from home products, fashion, cars, books, do it yourself projects, and even homes.

The History Of Mail Order In The United Kingdom

 kays CatalogueA company called Kays Of Worcester issued their first bound catalogue near the end of the 18th century, which kicked off the beginning of the history of modern mail order or home shopping catalogues. Kays of Worcester later became Kays Catalogue and featured watches, jewellery, and now they handle many more products including fashion and houseware products.

As the 19th century emerged, the growth of the shopping trends of using mail order catalogues changed as housewives realised how much time could be saved by being able to shop from home by using catalogues.

Empire Stores came into being around this time and expanded the scope of the general range of products in addition to watches, jewellery, and small personal items, and it began the foundation for one of the first home shopping catalogues of this kind. As more and more product types were added to the mixture of items in the catalogues, as many as 40,000 different types of items are available today.

Kays Catalogue was also flourishing during this time and went from selling their watches from a shop that was located in Worcester. The company began to branch out and expand their product line to include garments and clothing lines. This included products such as sheets, linens, and towels, with the name coming from the fact that the mainstay of cotton production in the 1800’s and the 1900’s centuries was Manchester.

William Kay and his sons traveled all throughout the UK and Europe during the next few decades and found new contacts and products for their catalogue business. It had now become one of the most popular catalogues for home shopping in modern retail at the time. In 2008, the Shop Direct Group purchased Kays Catalogue and merged it with two of its growing group of acquisitions to create a new catalogue called K & Co.

littlewoods catalogue

John Moores, the millionaire founder of the Littlewoods Pools empire, founded Littlewoods catalogue. The idea came to Mr. Moores while playing a round of golf with his brother Cecil. In the early 1930’s, Moore created a very simple catalogue which listed clothes and products for the home, and sent it to groups of people who formed shopping clubs. The organiser of these groups would collect the money for the orders, and sent about one to two pounds per week to Littlewoods. The members would then draw lots to see who would receive their deliveries first, and these clubs became known as ‘turns’ clubs, which were the major force behind the popularity of the Littlewoods catalogue.

The Otto Group of home shopping catalogues in Germany was a very small company at the end of the war to one of the largest home shopping companies in the world. Some of the top catalogues in the UK such as Grattans and Freemans, as well as BonPrix in Germany. As more and more innovative ways of getting catalogues into the hands of consumers occurred, an expansion of demand also began to occur among the consumers.

Since the beginning of the Internet, the experience of home shopping has changed quite a bit. In spite of the fact that millions of catalogues are sent out to customers each year, many people are using an online connection more and more because of the convenience and easy of shopping online. Since many of the home shopping catalogue companies own their own websites, where products can be ordered directly from them there. Traditional paper catalogues can offer inspiration, and show people the items that are available before the get online to shop. Catalogues will still be an important part of the home shopping experience as not everyone owns a computer at home.

Since it is so easy to order products and merchandise over the Internet, along with the convenience of having the merchandise delivered directly, the available credit to extend payments, make the current growth of online shopping possible. There are several examples in the present mail order and home shopping market in the UK. Littlewoods, one of the best known shopping credit catalogues, mails a glossy, fully stocked catalogue to your door free of charge, or you can go their website and see all of their products. There is no charge for deliver from Littlewoods and they offer several very favourable credit options, from Buy Now Pay Later, to a 52 weeks of credit that is interest free.

All of these possibilities in the various home shopping networks also allow the purchase of items from the European continent such as clothing from La Redoute from France and Ellos from Sweden. Home shoppers now have at their disposal all kinds of places to shop from many different countries, and can get whatever they want. There are literally no boundaries in making a decision as to where to shop.