The click-and-mortar business model, also known as “clicks to bricks” or “omnichannel selling” is a way for retailers to reach more people and boost customer satisfaction by selling online and in-person.
In this article, we’ll take a look at how it works, the benefits of this sales strategy, and real-life examples of brands that are excelling at click and mortar.
Let’s dive in.
What is click and mortar?
Click and mortar is an omnichannel business model where retailers merge online and offline sales channels to streamline the shopping experience. This typically includes an ecommerce website and a brick-and-mortar location.
Customers can enjoy the ease of shopping online or in person, making click and mortar more convenient and flexible for shoppers and more competitive than retail businesses that only sell via one channel.
How does click and mortar work?
The click-and-mortar business model may work slightly differently for each retail business, but the mechanics are essentially the same. Comparing it to other retail business models is the easiest way to understand how it works.
Click and mortar vs. brick-and-mortar
Unlike click-and-mortar retailers that have a digital and physical presence, brick-and-mortar businesses only have a physical storefront. This creates a few differences, including:
How retailers accept payments. With click and mortar, many transactions happen online, resulting in businesses accepting digital payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, and digital wallets such as Google Pay and Apple Pay.
On the other hand, brick-and-mortar businesses can accept most of the same payment methods through their point-of-sale as well as cash, because this type of retail business accepts payments in person.
How retailers market and advertise their business. Usually, click-and-mortar and brick-and-mortar retailers use a mixture of channels to spread the word about their brand, but traditional offline marketing methods are more commonly used by brick-and-mortar-only businesses, while companies with an ecommerce website incorporate more online marketing into their strategy.
Where retailers sell products. Retailers that have a brick-and-mortar business model only sell products to customers in person at their store. Click-and-mortar businesses sell products online and offline and can offer a variety of delivery and pickup options, including standard shipping, buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), and buy in-store, ship to home, to name a few.
Bricks to clicks vs. clicks to bricks
With click and mortar, shoppers have the option to choose where they shop and pay, and how they want to receive their order. The main advantage of using this business model is that you can create a seamless shopping experience across multiple touch points. That’s why so many online stores are choosing to open physical locations (even if it’s just a showroom) and physical retailers are venturing into ecommerce to give customers the flexibility they’re looking for. These models are also referred to, respectively, as “bricks to clicks” and “clicks to bricks.”
Bricks to clicks
It’s no surprise that more and more brick-and-mortar businesses are setting up online stores. According to Statista, shopping is one of the most popular online activities worldwide. In 2020, ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to $4.28 trillion and revenues are projected to grow to $5.4 trillion in 2022.
Like click and mortar, bricks to clicks enables your customers to shop in-store or online and have their orders shipped to their house or a convenient pickup location.
Another characteristic of bricks to clicks is for stores to have Wi-Fi and encourage customers to redeem online offers in-store, either via their retail app or their ecommerce website. This is useful for retailers because you’ll collect customer data and can continue communicating with shoppers post-purchase.
Clicks to bricks
Click to bricks refers to online-only retailers setting up physical stores to improve the customer experience. The main reason why direct-to-consumer ecommerce businesses use this omnichannel approach is to give customers the opportunity to touch, see, and test their products before they buy.
The brick-and-mortar location is essentially a showroom where shoppers can go to experience the products they see online.
7 benefits of click and mortar
The main benefit of click and mortar is omnichannel selling. By selling your products across various channels—online and in-store—you’ll access a wider market and create more touchpoints for shoppers to discover and buy from your business.
Here are the benefits of click and mortar:
1. Creating a seamless customer experience
With click and mortar, customers have the option to choose their shopping and order-fulfillment experience. Some people prefer the face-to-face experience, while others would rather order online from the comfort of their home.
Customers can also do research online before visiting your physical store or check out products in person before ordering them online. Either way, it gives them the option to choose the experience that suits their needs.
2. Saving money on shipping costs
By having both an online storefront and a physical storefront, some shoppers may opt for shipping options like buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS). This can help you and your customers save money on shipping costs. It can also lead to more foot traffic and sales at your brick-and-mortar store. If a customer comes in to pick up their order, they might see something else they like and add it to their purchase.
3. Building customer trust and brand recognition
Meeting customers in person and giving them the option to see, touch, and test your products before they buy can help build trust and recognition for your brand. Depending on the types of products you sell, your physical location may act as a showroom where customers can engage with the merchandise in person and either buy on the spot or order online later.
4. Cross-selling and upselling products
By creating more touchpoints and sales channels for customers to discover your business and buy from you, you’re also creating more opportunities to cross-sell and upsell products.
Cross-selling is when you encourage customers to increase their order value and purchase similar or complementary products in addition to the item they already have in hand. Cross merchandising is a common strategy used in retail to increase cross sales.
Upselling is when you convince shoppers to buy a higher priced item similar to the product being considered.
Online, a few common places to try these sales strategies are on the product page and cart page.
You can also cross-sell and upsell to both online and in-store customers with post-purchase communications via either email or SMS.
5. Staying competitive
Ecommerce giants like Amazon aren’t able to provide the same local in-store shopping experience as smaller retailers. And many local retailers lack an online presence. Using a click-and-mortar strategy can help you carve out a spot in the middle so you’re offering an experience that large retailers and most small boutiques don’t.
6. Reducing marketing and advertising costs
Ecommerce businesses spend a lot of money on digital marketing to increase website traffic, but opening a physical location can help you attract more customers without spending too much money on marketing and advertising. It can also help you boost brand recognition and position your retail store as a market leader—many people recognize brands more if they have a physical location. Of course, operating a retail store has its own costs, so it’s important to decide what works best for your business goals.
7. Increasing sales revenue
Last but not least, the more sales channels you have, the more likely you are to convert shoppers into paying customers. Having an ecommerce store lets you sell to virtually anyone (that’s in your shipping zone), and opening a physical store is a great way to attract and sell to more local customers.
5 examples of retailers excelling at click and mortar
Some brands start online and then make a strategic decision to also open a brick-and-mortar store, while others do the opposite. And in many cases, retailers have a physical and digital storefront right from the start. Here, we’ll look at a few retailers excelling at omnichannel selling through click-and-mortar strategies.
LIVELY is a bra company that created a new product category called “leisurée.” The brand's mission is to make bras more comfortable, supportive, and sexy so women don’t have to choose one benefit over the other.
The company started as a direct-to-consumer brand, but after getting tired of setting up for one popup shop after another, it went from click to bricks and decided to establish a permanent brick-and-mortar location in 2016. This omnichannel sales approach helped the brand increase its average order value by 80%.
LIVELY measures its business performance across all channels by syncing its ecommerce store with all of its retail locations using Shopify POS. Since doing this, the brand learned that the average order value is 60%–80% higher for shoppers who book fitting sessions online rather than just walking in.
Allbirds is a click-to-bricks retailer that sells eco-friendly footwear. It was founded online in 2014 and opened a brick-and-mortar store shortly after. The brand sees retail as just another direct-to-consumer channel.
Now Allbirds is expanding its physical presence in international markets and is planning to close out 2021 with more than 30 physical store locations. For digitally native brands, the cost to acquire customers continues to rise, which is why more and more ecommerce companies are optimizing their reach and marketing budgets by taking an omnichannel sales approach.
3. Reigning Champ
Reigning Champ designs and manufactures Canadian-made essentials. Its process is guided by clear principles: Respect the details. Master simplicity.
The company uses Shopify’s POS and ecommerce platform to streamline the shopping experience and engage with customers across many channels and touchpoints.
Since the mid-’80s, Bicicletta has been Vancouver’s home for discerning road cyclists and triathletes. In-store and online, it stocks the finest road, mountain, and triathlon brands in the world and boasts one of the largest selections of clothing and accessory brands in Canada.
The brand is doing a great job with its omnichannel sales strategy. On the home page of its online store, shoppers can easily find various ways to get in touch with customer service, as well as all the different options for order fulfillment, including click and collect, store pickup, and local delivery.
Eevee’s was founded by friends with a passion for personal electric vehicles (PEVs), which increasingly are used for transportation, fitness, and fun. Founder Bradley Spence is most inspired by building community as new people find PEVs and build new friendships with others who share their interest.
Eevee’s started with a retail shop and successfully went from bricks to clicks by also opening an ecommerce store. On its website, shoppers can easily find more information about its physical location, shipping options, and free in-store demos so they can try before they buy.
How to integrate your online and offline storefronts
You’ll want to find a solution that lets you manage your online and in-store inventory, as well as your sales history, all from one platform. That’s why we made it easy for you to unify in-store and online sales with the Shopify POS and ecommerce platform. You can create a seamless checkout experience, regardless of whether the customer opts to browse in-store and buy online, buy online and pick up in-store, or buy in-store and ship to their home.
Expanding order fulfillment options leads to increased customer satisfaction and more sales, and leveraging technology such as Shopify and digital marketing strategies—including social media, email marketing, live chat, and omnichannel loyalty programs—can help you retain more customers.
Is click and mortar right for your business?
Before deciding if click and mortar is right for your retail business, it’s important to evaluate the costs involved and whether your target audience would shop both online and in-store. It’s also key to make sure the customer experience doesn’t suffer because you’re spread too thin managing multiple storefronts.
One sales channel may perform better than the other, which is normal, but you may be inclined to focus all of your energy on the one that’s working while the one that’s slower falls by the wayside. Neglecting one channel because another is performing better could lead to a poor customer experience and losing loyal customers to your competition.