By 1895, the company was producing a 532-page catalog with the largest variety of items that anybody at the time could have imagined. Two years later they exceeded 750,000 dollars." In 1906 Sears opened its catalog plant and the Sears Merchandise Building Tower. Penney Catalog Distribution Center was located in Milwaukee.
And by that time, the Sears catalog had become known in the industry as "the Consumers' Bible". produced the first of its famous Christmas catalogs known as the "Sears Wishbook", a catalog featuring toys and gifts and separate from the annual Christmas Catalog. With the invention of the Internet, a company's website became the more usual way to order merchandise for delivery by mail, although the term "mail order" is not always used to describe the ordering of goods over the Internet.
From about 1921 to 1931, Ward sold prefabricated kit houses, called Wardway Homes, by mail order.
Hammacher Schlemmer is the earliest still surviving mail-order business, established by Alfred Hammacher in New York City in 1848. Limited was founded in 1869 in Toronto by Timothy Eaton, an Irish immigrant.
In 1744 he produced a catalogue of sold scientific and academic books.
Starting off as an apprentice to a local draper in Newtown, Wales, he took over the business in 1856 and renamed it the Royal Welsh Warehouse, selling local Welsh flannel.
In 1667, the English gardener, William Lucas, published a seed catalogue, which he mailed to his customers to inform them of his prices.
Catalogues spread to colonial America, where Benjamin Franklin is believed to have been the first cataloguer in British America.
In 1498, the publisher Aldus Manutius of Venice printed a catalogue of the books he was printing.By buying goods and then reselling them directly to customers, Aaron Montgomery Ward was consequently removing the middlemen at the general store and to the benefit of the customer, lowering the prices drastically.His first catalogue was a single sheet of paper with a price list, 8 by 12 inches, showing the merchandise for sale and ordering instructions.Companies who publish and operate mail order catalogues are referred to as cataloguers within the industry.Cataloguers buy or manufacture goods then market those goods to prospects (prospective customers).The establishment of the Uniform Penny Post in 1840, and the extension of the railway network, helped Pryce-Jones to eventually turn his small rural concern into a company with global renown.In 1861, Pryce-Jones hit upon a unique method of selling his wares.Montgomery Ward identified a market of merchant-wary farmers in the Midwest.Within two decades, his single-page list of products grew into a 540-page illustrated book selling over 20,000 items.This was the world's first mail order business, an idea which would change the nature of retail in the coming century.The further expansion of the railways in the years that followed allowed Pryce Jones to greatly expand his customer base and his business grew rapidly.