Click and mortar – What is click and mortar?

Click and mortar, also known as ‘click and bricks’, is a type of business model that incorporates both online and offline channels, usually combining a website and a physical store.

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‘Click and mortar’ is a play on the phrase ‘brick and mortar’, which refers to a business that has a physical presence in a building – such as a shop, office, or factory.

The click-and-mortar business model is an omnichannel approach to sales and marketing that’s mostly used by retailers. Click-and-mortar retailers first appeared during the ‘dot-com bubble’. Today, almost all companies have some sort of online presence that supports their offline sales; however, many e-commerce organisations don’t have a physical store or offline presence.

Click and mortar vs. brick and mortar

Brick-and-mortar companies only have a physical presence, whereas click-and-mortar companies have both a physical presence and an online presence. As a result, there are a few differences between the two types of business structures, including:

  • Where products are sold: whereas brick-and-mortar businesses sell products to customers in person in a physical location, click-and-mortar businesses take orders online and then deliver the products to the customer.

  • How products are paid for: because transactions occur remotely, click-and-mortar businesses tend to only accept digital payment methods such as credit cards or bank transfers. On the other hand, brick-and-mortar businesses accept payment in person and can therefore accept traditional forms of payment such as cash as well as digital methods.

  • Which channels are used for marketing: both click-and-mortar and brick-and-mortar companies may use a range of channels to promote their business, but it’s more common for companies with an e-commerce component to use online marketing strategies, while brick-and-mortar companies tend to stick to traditional, offline methods.

Examples of click-and-mortar companies

One of the most common examples of an organisation that uses the click-and-mortar approach is any company that offers ‘click and collect’ services. ‘Click and collect’ allows consumers to place an order online then pick up the items from one of the retailer’s physical stores.

Click and collect is now extremely common among many types of British retailers, including supermarkets, high-street retail brands and electronics stores. It’s also fairly common among some fast-food chains, which allow users to place an order through their website or mobile app, then collect the food from a specific outlet at a specific time.

Legislation for click-and-mortar companies

In the UK, there are several pieces of legislation that protect consumers’ rights, including the Consumer Rights Act of 2015. Online purchases are covered by additional pieces of legislation, including the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations of 2013.

Like businesses that operate exclusively online, businesses that use the click-and-mortar model need to make sure that the sales they make online are compliant with these additional pieces of legislation, and that sales they make offline are compliant with all other legislation that covers consumer rights.

Advantages of the click-and-mortar business model

Compared to traditional brick-and-mortar companies, click-and-mortar businesses have several advantages for both business owners and customers.

For businesses, one of the main advantages of the click-and-mortar strategy is that websites have a further geographic reach than physical, offline shops. This can therefore help a company expand their customer base beyond their local area.

For customers, the click-and-mortar approach makes it possible to search for products online before examining them offline. This helps customers be more informed about products and creates the opportunity for customers to know exactly what they’re buying before they commit to the purchase.

Furthermore, the click-and-mortar approach makes it possible for customers to choose between the convenience of quick, online transactions and traditional face-to-face customer service.

Disadvantages of the click-and-mortar business model

There are also several disadvantages and risks that companies should be aware of before deciding to adopt the click-and-mortar business model.

Firstly, if a business adopts the click-and-mortar business model after traditionally operating exclusively online or offline, it can be difficult to manage the transition. It’s important to get the right balance between maintaining the success of the original channel and developing the new channel.

Secondly, there’s no guarantee that investing in a new channel will pay off. Depending on your target audience and the products you sell, your business may be better off remaining exclusively online or offline rather than combining the two channels.