The bricks-and-clicks business model combines ecommerce retail with traditional brick-and-mortar retail. Businesses that successfully implement a bricks-and-clicks strategy get to enjoy the best of both worlds, creating a superior shopping experience for their customers.
Seamlessly combining online and offline retailing to form a cohesive bricks-and-clicks strategy can be tricky and it will take some work. If you’re considering going down this route, it’s crucial to have a clear plan first.
In this article, I’ll explore the bricks-and-clicks business model in detail, describing where it excels, where it falls short, and how you can successfully incorporate it into your business.
What Is the Bricks-and-Clicks Business Model
The bricks-and-clicks business model means that you run a physical store as well as an online store. This model is sometimes referred to as click-and-mortar or omnichannel retail. It allows businesses to create a retail strategy that unifies both sales channels while taking advantage of the strengths of each one.
Businesses that use the bricks-and-clicks approach give their customers multiple options to browse and make purchases. By using a bricks-and-clicks strategy, you can reach more customers regardless of the way they prefer to shop.
The Advantages of the Bricks-and-Clicks Model
Adopting a bricks-and-clicks model can help improve your business in several ways. Here are some examples of benefits that your company can enjoy.
- Expand your reach: If you only run a brick-and-mortar store, your business can only reach local customers. However, adding an online store expands that reach to customers from other areas.
- Offer your customers flexibility: Implementing a bricks-and-clicks model allows you to cater to customers with different shopping preferences. With this model, customers can shop through the channel of their choice – or combine them, if they choose to.
- Give your customers a unified shopping experience: A seamless bricks-and-clicks business model allows your customers to make the most of both sales channels. As an example, they can pre-order new products online to pick them up in-store or check online to see whether an item is in stock before traveling to the store.
- Analyze both channels to optimize your business: By running a physical and online storefront side-by-side, you can gain valuable insights. For example, you can use web analytics tools to optimize your physical store’s display based on which products sell best online.
The Drawbacks of the Bricks-and-Clicks Model
While it can yield impressive results, there are several challenges involved with setting up and running a successful bricks-and-clicks strategy.
- High cost barrier: The cost to run an online store and a brick-and-mortar store simultaneously can be fairly high. Some of the significant costs include website management fees, rent and bills, employee wages, and store security systems.
- Large time commitment: Maximizing the potential of a bricks-and-clicks business model involves a significant time commitment. You'll need to gather and analyze data from those channels, draw useful conclusions, and manage inventory across both store types.
- Long onboarding process: If your business is currently focused solely on either brick-and-mortar or ecommerce, transitioning to a bricks-and-clicks model can be challenging. Physical stores need time to adapt their storefronts for ecommerce, just as ecommerce stores take time to set up a great physical storefront.
Examples of Well-Known Bricks-and-Clicks Businesses
Many companies that used to be solely brick-and-mortar retailers have adopted the bricks-and-clicks business model.
Similarly, many newer businesses that started out as ecommerce retailers go on to branch out and open up a physical location.
Here are some examples of well-known bricks-and-clicks businesses:
- Walmart: Walmart is an often-cited example of a large business that successfully employs a bricks-and-clicks strategy. As a traditional retailer that has always maintained a strong physical presence across the U.S., adding ecommerce to its repertoire helped it expand its reach.
- Whole Foods: Whole Foods traditionally only operated physical stores across the country but then expanded to also run an online store. This allows its customers to purchase groceries that they can pick up in-store or have delivered to their homes.
- Allbirds: Unlike Walmart and Target, Allbirds started out as an online-only retailer, cultivating a reputation as a seller of comfortable shoes. It has since transitioned to the bricks-and-clicks model, with physical stores across the U.S., Europe, Asia, and New Zealand.
How to Implement a Successful Bricks-and-Clicks Strategy
The best way for you to incorporate this business model into your company will depend on your current approach.
Is your company currently a brick-and-mortar retail business looking to expand into ecommerce, or is it the other way around? Or are you looking to launch a new business with both channels simultaneously?
Your process may be more or less involved depending on which scenario best describes your business. However, there are certain aspects you’ll want to focus on regardless of your situation.
Here are 5 ways you can help ensure your transition to a bricks-and-clicks strategy is successful.
1. Take Advantage of Analytics
Running an ecommerce and physical store side-by-side gives you access to all kinds of data on your customers' shopping habits. This is one of your most powerful assets.
If you opt to use an ecommerce platform for your online store, make sure to select one that offers great analytics tools. Use the tools you have at your disposal to learn about which of your products are most popular, and apply this to improve the customer experience of both your online and offline stores.
In addition to data you collect based on customer purchases, be sure to engage your customers and ask them to provide feedback – both through your website and in person. Consider offering them incentives to fill out surveys, such as loyalty programs or discounts.
If you’ve invested in any digital marketing strategies such as SEO or pay-per-click ads, you can use the insights from those campaigns to improve your entire business.
2. Create a Unified Shopping Experience
When you run an online store as well as a physical store, keep your customer experience and branding consistent and cohesive across both channels. Unifying your branding is easy: simply make sure your logo and company colors are visible and consistent both on your website and in-store.
Creating a high-quality, personalized shopping experience across both your channels is more challenging. Invest in quality algorithms to track your customer preferences and trends for your online store, and hire experienced store representatives who can deeply understand the preferences of your in-store shoppers.
By creating a cohesive experience, you help your customers instantly feel the sense of familiarity and loyalty for your brand when they shop with you – regardless of which channel they use.
3. Optimize Your Site for Mobile Devices
Running a successful bricks-and-clicks business model means you need to think about optimizing your business for mobile users. Nearly half of all ecommerce purchases are made on mobile devices, so it's an important market to tap into.
Invest in mobile-focused development for when you launch your ecommerce site. Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices throughout all stages of the shopping journey. In addition to this, you could consider creating a mobile app for your customers.
4. Create a Smooth Shipping and Returns Process
As a bricks-and-clicks retailer, aim to have a flexible and simple shipping and returns process for your customers. Ideally, this means you’ll offer shipping and returns for both online and in-person purchases.
Customers should have the option to place an order for home delivery online (or even over the phone) or in-store, and to be able to return items in person or by mail.
To achieve this, partner with a reliable shipping provider that consistently delivers on its promises. Make sure your shipping and returns policies are crystal clear, both on your website and in-store. Having your in-store employees understand these policies well can go a long way, so plan adequate training when you implement new policies.
5. Keep Your Inventory Consistent
The bricks-and-clicks business model excels in allowing customers to mix and match shopping channels the way that best suits them.
However, to make this experience work seamlessly without running into issues, you’ll need to always keep your inventory synced across both channels. By keeping your inventory consistent, you minimize the risk of overselling or underselling your products. This will help ensure a smooth shopping experience and accurate shipping estimates.
The Benefits of Working with Pay.com as Your Payment Service Provider
As a business looking to adopt a bricks-and-clicks strategy, you need to have a seamless payment system.
Pay.com lets your omnichannel business securely accept payments online. We offer a variety of payment methods, including mobile and digital wallets and all major credit and debit cards.
The Pay Dashboard contains a suite of cutting-edge analytics tools that let you seamlessly track your product sales figures. This lets you significantly simplify your inventory management across both channels.
Sign up with Pay.com now, and we’ll cover all your online payment needs, allowing you to focus on optimizing your business’s transition to bricks-and-clicks.
The Bottom Line
Implementing a successful bricks-and-clicks strategy can be a challenging and sometimes expensive process. However, by following some of the tips I’ve discussed in this article, you can improve your chance of successfully making this transition.
The bricks-and-clicks strategy, when used correctly, can be highly lucrative. You can reach far more customers than you could with only one channel while cultivating a greater sense of brand recognition and loyalty among your new and returning customers.
Choose Pay.com as your payment service provider to boost your chance of success as a bricks-and-clicks retailer. With a choice of popular payment methods, your customers can pay however they want.
With the Pay Dashboard, you gain access to insights about your customer data which you can use to optimize your ecommerce operations.