Definition

clicks and mortar

Clicks and mortar, sometimes seen as clicks-and-mortar or clicks and bricks, is a type of omnichannel business model that takes advantage of both online and offline operations. Typically, a clicks and mortar company is one with an e-commerce platform as well as a physical store to provide its customers with more options and service types. Online operations can also include mobile applications and social media profiles. The term itself derives from bricks and mortar, which refers to traditional companies with physical locations, and was coined by David Pottruck, CEO of Charles Schwab Corp.

The combination of online and offline channels provides customers with more choices, flexibility and convenience. This also gives companies the opportunity to improve and create a more comprehensive brand experience through search engine advertisements, email campaigns, special promotions and online shopping guides. As a large portion of shoppers use the internet during some stage of the buyer's process to research, compare or purchase products, this strategy is crucial to implement.

An example of a clicks and mortar tactic is giving a consumer the ability to purchase an item online and pick it up in store, which as a result reduces shipping cost. Most companies, including big brand retail stores such as Walmart and Best Buy, use the clicks and mortar business model.

Advantages of clicks and mortar

  • Access to a wider market not limited by geographic location or store hours.
  • More efficient customer service options. For example, customers can choose to return items ordered on line in their local store or access troubleshooting information without face to face interaction.
  • More informed purchase ability as customers can cross reference online reviews with in-store products.
  • Stronger brand experience through more customer touchpoints.
  • More time and cost efficient than continually opening new store locations.
  • Less labor and mass delivery services required.
  • Increased traffic to website.
  • More inventory flexibility by being able to order items that are sold out in store.
  • Implementation of value-added services such as loyalty programs, relevant suggested items based on shopping history and logistics integration.

Challenges of clicks and mortar

Challenges with implementing the clicks and mortar strategy arise when operations are not carefully balanced. When one channel reports higher revenue than the other, the business focus may be improperly skewed. It is important to treat both online and offline operations with equal weight, consideration and upkeep. Organizations looking to transition into clicks and mortar from an offline operations-only approach also need to carefully consider marketplace or website fees, changes in inventory and shipping processes and new marketing strategies.

This was last updated in March 2007

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