What is a brick and click business/store?
Brick and click stores are stores that combine their online and offline retail strategy by incorporating a physical store (the bricks) and an online store (the clicks). You may also know this business model as omnichannel retail. The model is also known as ‘click and mortar’ and ‘clicks and bricks’.
In the brick and click retail model, the retailer’s online and offline elements work in tandem with each other to support one another. Instead of being independent sales channels, they are integrated to benefit from each other’s strengths.
The analytics and data from the online stores can help improve the physical retail locations, and the real-time customer feedback in the physical store can give insights regarding merchandising, which could help you figure out which items should be featured online.
Brick and click stores cater to the differing needs and preferences of their consumers. eCommerce sure is convenient but customers still find themselves feeling the need to shop in-store as well. A Think with Google study recently reported that the primary reason for a consumer to visit a store after researching and reading product reviews online was to see the product in-person and feel sure that they’re making the right choice.
The e-commerce industry is ever expanding, so combining online channels with the brick and mortar business model offers businesses the opportunity to offer more shopping options to customers while simultaneously increasing their earnings and potential brand reach.
How does the bricks and clicks model work?
The bricks and clicks model can be used by a wide range of business types across several industries.
If you’re running a brick and mortar stores right now, and then decide to start an eCommerce store to offer your products online as well. Even if you are running an eCommerce business, you might decide to start a physical brick and mortar store to let your customers experience your products first-hand in person before they make the purchase.
The way you run your bricks and clicks store will be specific to your business, but there are some principles that stay constant across most businesses that follow this model.
This business model offers customers the kind of flexibility that they would not be able to get if your business worked only over a single channel. For example, brick and click retailers could grant their shoppers the option of buying products online or in-store and having their orders delivered either to the store or being shipped directly to an address of their preference. In a similar fashion, returns can be streamlined in a brick and click model, granting customers the ability to make a return at a physical store near them, thus making it possible for them to save on shipping costs.
Unified shopping experience
The bricks and clicks business model seeks to offer their customers a unified, connected shopping experience. This means your sales channels (your physical store and your online store) need to build upon each other in cohesion and offer greater value than you would receive by simply having one of these sales channels on its own. One example of this could be syncing your inventory across channels to enable customers to check in real time whether an item is available in stock before they head to a store to purchase it.
Better customer experience
The whole point of running a bricks and clicks store is to create a much better experience for your customers than you could with only a single sales channel. Rather than catering to just a single customer channel preference, the bricks and clicks model enables you to cater to a broader range of customer desires. With two or more channels that work in tandem with each other, customers can get the best of both worlds and are more likely to find a shopping scenario that works perfectly for them, like ordering products online and picking them up in the physical store.
What are the advantages of the bricks and clicks model?
Reaching a larger set of shoppers
If a local brick and mortar store decides to go online and adopt the bricks and clicks retail model, it allows them to go beyond the local community and reach a much wider audience, letting more customers experience their offerings. At the same time, when an online store invests in a physical store or even has a pop-up store, it allows the local community to discover them in the real, physical world, experience their offerings in person, and buy them right there. These new customers could then tell their friends and family about your store and you could have a tribe being born there.
Improved data collection
You can collect data online through your analytics tools and even observe customer behavior live in your physical store, allowing you to understand your customers and their preferences to a far greater extent. This even allows you to collect live feedback and improve your stores and your offerings.
Increased customer loyalty and customer lifetime value
This model allows you to reach your customers and do business with them wherever they prefer, on their terms. You aren’t limited to just your physical store and your online store. You can also drive sales on third party marketplaces. This allows you to create much better experiences for your customers.
What are the disadvantages of the bricks and clicks model?
Can increase your costs
When you’re operating in the eCommerce space and running a brick and mortar store, your overheads tend to increase. This is especially true if you already have an eCommerce store and are just launching a physical outlet.
Has a learning curve
Whether the brand is a digital native or has been operating in the brick and mortar model since it was launched, learning how to win with the new channel can be quite a challenge.
Requires a higher investment of time
When you have to juggle between two channels, you’re going to have to spend more time trying to make things work. One major area where you might find yourself having to invest a lot of time would be in bridging the gap between the online and offline store experiences.
Why should you consider adopting a click and brick strategy?
Different customers have different preferences. Your tech savvy audience will prefer to buy online from the ease and convenience of their homes, while others prefer the retail therapy. Irrespective of their preference, you’d want to cater to all of them.
For your customers who prefer ordering online, but are indecisive about the product can come to a physical store and try and experience your product helping with the purchase decision.
For customers who have already purchased from your store before, ordering online just makes it very convenient for them to buy your product again without the hassle of going to the store again.
While an online presence helps you be more accessible and provides more convenience, with a physical store you can focus on providing an exceptional customer experience.
But before you make your decision to start with a “bricks” or “clicks” element to your current business, first analyze if it’s the right strategy for your business, as there’s a lot of investment in time and resources.
What are some examples of click and brick retailers?
Is Walmart a brick and click?
A lot of companies have started adopting the characteristics of a brick-and-click business. A good example is Walmart. Walmart had originally started as a brick-and-mortar shop but not but now supports purchases through its e-business. Typically, consumers can order their preferred items online and have them delivered at their preferred tangible outlet.
eCommerce shifting to click and bricks?
Even eCommerce companies have started realizing the importance of the brick and click models. World's largest eCommerce retailers like Amazon and Alibaba have started opening up physical stores to capture more markets and provide a better customer experience to their customers. Touching and feeling products at physical stores often makes customers more comfortable buying apparel, accessories and electronics. Storefronts also act as advertisements, and can boost the prestige associated with a brand.
The retail industry is constantly evolving, the bricks and clicks business model will become more prevalent among all businesses, whether big or small. After all, by implementing an omnichannel sales strategy, you’ll be able to access more customers, more sales, and eventually, more profit and business growth.