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Capítulo 5:

 Commercial email. E-mail comercial en inglés

1. Inquiries and orders

Inquiries and orders probably make up the bulk of emails sent around the world.  It is another situation where emailing is taking over the position originally held by the phone.  Making an inquiry as an email simplifies things, as your recipient can answer all your questions quickly and easily, and an email provides you with proof in case of any future misunderstandings.  Ordering is simple and fast via email, there are fewer mistakes in order numbers or quantities as you might find with a telephone order or fax.  The format for inquiries and orders is to be as direct as possible.

Your e-mail can be fairly short, but it should be long enough to adequately explain what it is that you are inquiring about and what you want the reader to do in response to your e-mail.

Generally, give at least a couple of weeks for the person, company, or organization to respond to your inquiry before you send a follow-up one or make a follow-up phone call.

Make it as easy as possible for the person to respond to your request. This might mean offering to pay for any needed photocopies or mailing costs, or perhaps including a self-addressed, stamped envelope; necessary forms, questionnaires, or other documents; and so forth.

Make sure to include contact information so that the person can easily get in touch with you if necessary, such as your cell or home phone number or e-mail address.

When the person responds to your inquiry, it is a good idea to send a quick note of thanks expressing your appreciation and telling how the information helped (or can help) you.

Here you have some tips on how to respond to an inquiry e-mail:

  • Specifically indicate the inquiry that was made, as you understand it.
  • Express your appreciation for the person’s interest.
  • If possible, personally respond to the inquiry. You might want to include with your response letter any brochures, catalogues, reports, or other helpful information available.
  • If appropriate, clearly describe any action you feel the person should take and the reason(s) for such a recommendation. (However, you may want to use caution because of any possible liability you might incur for offering such advice.)
  • If you cannot personally answer the person’s question, let them know that you have contacted the person who can and that they will shortly be in touch with the reader. If this is not possible, express your regret for being unable to help the reader, and try to find out for them the contact information for someone who can help.
  • If appropriate, you might want to include additional information about your organization, the products or services you sell, or the subject matter of the inquiry, beyond the scope of the original inquiry.
  • Close by saying that you would be happy to help the reader in the future they need further assistance or by wishing them well in their endeavour or project, etc.

The structure of the e-mail could follow this pattern:

  • Begin your letter by stating who you are and giving your status or position (such as student, researcher, interested consumer, etc.), and tell how you found out about the individual or entity that you are writing to.
  • Clearly state what it is that you are inquiring about and what you would like the recipient of your letter to do. Make your inquiry as specific as possible.
  • You might want to briefly explain the purpose of your e-mail or what you hope to accomplish. Such an explanation may prompt the recipient of your e-mail to act more quickly.
  • If appropriate, consider mentioning the e-mail recipient’s qualifications for responding to your inquiry.
  • Include the date by which you need the information, services, etc., that you are requesting, and indicate that you await the reader’s response.
  • Thank the person for their time.

Making an order is exactly the same. Etiquette, professionalism, appropriate wording, or keeping the reader's attention, will make your e-mail a success or not.

See the model:

Commercial email

Activity 1
Put the paragraph structures below into the correct order:


Specific questions


Say how you got the contact

General request for information

Say something about your company and give a reason for writing



Say what you are attaching

Answer specific questions

Give thanks for the mail

Highlight a few key points


Activity 2
Match the phrases to the parts of the paragraph structures above:

  1. I work for Eggshell, the largest importer of china in Sweden, and I was very interested purchasing some of your designer cups.
  2. Thank you for your email of the 12thApril
  3. I would also like to know what your delivery times are and whether you treat the china at all to prevent staining. 
  4. I am sending you our latest catalogue and a price list as an attachment.
  5. Hello my name is Peter Shilling; we met at the recent Edgeware china trade show.
  6. I look forward to hearing from you; I think there is a definite market for your product in Sweden.
  7. With regards to your questions, we deliver within three days of a firm order, and all our china is coated with a special protective agent to prevent staining.
  8. Could you please send me information on your product line and a price list?
  9. Thank you for your interest in our company, if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
  10. You will note that our blue cloud range is on special this month.


2. Negotiating

Negotiating is a very important part of business.  Some companies will lower the price of their stock, or wave a fee if you negotiate with them.  Think of it like an antiques market.  Sometimes you can get a good deal on your purchase if can convince the dealer to do so.  Remember, you as the customer always have some form of leverage with your suppliers.

Here you have some suggestions for writing a proper negotiating e-mail:

  • Set the tone: when you are sending your messages by email, that is the only thing the other side sees.
  • Say what you want: this is particularly appropriate for online negotiation because you are dealing only with emails. You cannot hesitate as you might in person. You must be clear and direct so there are no misunderstandings.
  • Everyone needs an editor: If you have read some of your emails after the fact, you know that it is easy to make typing mistakes. You can create more problems for yourself if you are dealing with damage control because of an email full of mistakes. However, they are not easily spotted when you do your first proofread. Once you have sent your email, it may be too late. It is a good idea to put an email away and review it the next day for errors before sending it out.
  • Don't rush or be too slow: the pace of an online negotiation is very different from being in the same room. Don't be too slow by not answering the emails in a timely manner. If one party takes too long to answer an email, the other party can lose interest altogether. On the other hand, you don't want the other party to think you are waiting at your computer for their next message.
  • Keep track of your paperwork: Keeping track of the paperwork is very important when negotiating online. In a face-to-face negotiation, the other side can quickly forget exactly what was said. With emails, either party can go back and see exactly what was written. Be sure to read previous emails to know what the agreement is before responding. If you don't, the other side will, and you may be embarrassed if they have to correct you.

If you take this information into consideration, your negotiation will be nothing less than a win-win one.

Language Tip

When writing a negotiating email, remember to use assertive phrases to give more power to your claims and diplomatic language to stop sounding too pushy or rude.

 For example, If are ordering a large quantity of items and you would like to get a discount, it is better to ask with a phrase like “I would like to order 50, 0000 items, do you give any discounts on orders of this size?” Rather than simply stating “I want to order 50, 0000 items and I want a discount”

If you have any special requests to do with your order, try to phrases them in this manner.  “Are you prepared to give these items on credit?

Note that both these statements are in the infinitive tense.

Activity 3
Match the words with their definitions:



Activity 4
Complete the emails by writing one word in the space. To help you, the first letter of each word has been given:

Email 1)

Dear Ms Norris,

I received your c.............(1) and price list, thank you very much for sending it to me.  I am interested in p.................(2) 70,000 items of product ref number 22ss00 and 200,000 of product ref  number 782k4.  However, before I commit to a firm o...........(3), I have one or two things I’d like to clarify.

Do you give any d………..(4) on orders of this size?

Would you be prepared to give me these i……….(5) on credit?  Our usual terms of p……………(6)are 30 days after delivery, and of course I would supply a bank g………….(7)

There is no mention of t…………….(8) costs or delivery times in the material you sent me.  I would need these items by the end of July at the latest, and I would like to know what extra charges there will be on top of the base p………(9).

I sincerely hope that we can come to some agreement on these matters, if so, I will certainly be willing to do more b...............(10) with you in the future.  We have a long standing r.................(11) as a firm, well executed business, with good working relations.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Petra Dominguez

Email 2)

Dear Ms Dominguez,

Thank you for your email of July 3rd inquiring about a possible order of our p............(12) ref numbers 22ss00 and 782k4.  I have answered your questions in order below.

With regards to discounts, we would be happy to offer you a 10 % discount on an order of this s….(13).

In regard to credit, unfortunately it is our policy not to offer credit to first time c…………….(14).  However in light of your reputation in the market, we are willing to make a compromise.  Our credit control d…………………(15) has agreed on 30 days with no need of pre-payment.  Our regular procedure is to check all bank guarantees, so if you wish to make a firm order then we will be needing full d………(16).

As for d…………….(17) times, we can supply your items direct from stock and we can ship them to you within three days of a firm order.

Finally please note that we have made some recent upgrades to our website, so it is now possible to order o..........(18).  Alternatively you can print out the form, fill it in and send it back to us.

I have arranged a member of our customer services team to give you a call later in the week.  They will be able to discuss any extra q................(19) you might have.

Thank you for your interest in our products,

Best regards,

Susan Norris

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