Click and Mortar: Definition, How Model Works, and Example

What Is Click and Mortar?

Click and mortar is a type of business model that has both online and offline operations, which typically include a website and a physical store. A click-and-mortar company can offer customers the benefits of fast online transactions and traditional face-to-face service and is thus potentially more competitive than a traditional "bricks and mortar" type of business, which is offline only. This type of business model is also referred to as clicks and bricks.

[Important: Click and mortar is a so-called omnichannel business model that incorporates both physical and online stores.]

Understanding Click and Mortar

Around 60% of shoppers use the Internet at some stage of the shopping process to research, compare, or purchase. Recognizing the opportunity, major retailers have developed online channels to complement their physical store channels. In most cases, customers may shop through the store’s website, make the purchase online, and either have it shipped or pick it up at a store location.

Some retailers use customer data and in-store Wi-Fi to connect with customers while they shop to make special offers or guide them to areas of interest. Shoppers of high-end merchandise, such as designer clothing, jewelry, or flat-screen televisions, tend to use the physical location to touch and feel the products before going home and ordering online.

Click-and-mortar retailers benefit from having customers browse while in the store. They also benefit from having physical drop locations for products ordered online by customers who don’t want to wait for shipped goods to arrive. Ship-to-store ordering reduces shipping costs and increases traffic at the physical stores.

Example of Click and Mortar

The click-and-mortar business model is being followed by an increasing number of big-brand retail stores, such as Walmart (WMT), Best Buy (BBY) and Nordstrom (JWN). The merging of online and offline channels, in what's called an omnichannel strategy, provides customers with an enhanced shopping experience with more choices, greater flexibility, more convenience, and more services.

Retailers benefit from improved customer relations and more transactions. Due to their ability to spend millions of dollars on click ads with search engines, the retailers' promotions tend to show up higher in product search results online.

Special Considerations

By adding physical storefronts, online-only retailers are finding that they can increase traffic on their websites while reducing their digital marketing expenses.

In many cases, the storefronts work as showrooms for customers who want to try out products or size their clothes or shoes before purchasing online. The stores typically have web kiosks that allow shoppers to place online orders right from the store. The practice has captured a segment of shoppers who are not confident about buying certain types of products from online-only merchants. The presence of physical storefronts also helps companies to build brand recognition.

Key Takeaways

  • A click-and-mortar business model is based on investing in both a physical and online presence.
  • Click and mortar models are becoming increasingly popular as consumers seek to buy products online and off and to examine products offline before buying them online.
  • Online only retailers can increase traffic by adding physical storefronts; storefronts can expand their customer base and geographic reach by adding an eCommerce store.
Article Sources
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  1. Pew Research. "Online Shopping and Purchasing Preferences." Accessed Oct. 31, 2020.