What Is the Bricks-and-Clicks Business Model?

As the internet has made it easier for businesses of all sizes to sell their items online, many companies have chosen to take advantage of having both physical and online storefronts. The bricks-and-clicks business model helps appeal to customers who prefer the experience of shopping at physical locations near them.

At the same time, it offers your business the potential to boost sales and expand globally through your company's website or mobile app. If you're interested in using this business model, learn about its features, benefits and drawbacks so you can have the most success with your implementation.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

The bricks-and-clicks business model strongly integrates the traditional and online shopping experiences to meet more customers' needs and offer a consistent brand experience.

Clicks and Bricks in E-commerce

Along with simply having physical and online retail presences, brick-and-click companies employ some specific features that improve the customer experience.

For example, these companies often allow customers to research products on their websites and get shopping advice and help online and locally. Shoppers using the store's website or app can usually choose whether they want to receive items through the mail or by in-store pickup, and in-person shoppers may order special products from internet-connected kiosks within the store. If customers need to return something bought over the internet, they can also often drop by a physical location for a more convenient return process.

Some stores may even use technologies like QR codes that allow shoppers in the physical store to snap a picture to learn about and purchase products they see around them. The ability to pay and access digital coupons through a store's mobile app has also become common. Clicks-and-bricks companies also often take advantage of digital marketing through social media sites to bring traffic to both retail channels.

Bricks-and-Clicks Business Example

Consider the major retailer Walmart as a good example of the bricks-and-clicks business model. Along with having stores around the world, Walmart allows online shoppers to check the current inventory of many products on their website, buy items online and arrange for in-store pickup, sometimes on the same day.

It also has a mobile app where customers can scan an item's barcode to check the price, start returns, request a monthly payment plan and pay using a QR code at the checkout lane. Walmart has also added a same-day grocery delivery service.

Bricks-and-Clicks Pros and Cons

The major benefit of the bricks-and-clicks business model lies in how it can satisfy a wider range of customers than operating only online or from a brick-and-mortar store. Traditional shoppers can still visit to look at and try items, speak to employees, pay the way they prefer and get their goods immediately. Online shoppers get the convenience of having items sent the way they prefer as well as easy ways to research products and make returns. In the end, your business can gain many more sales through both channels, expand more easily and help reduce some costs related to shipping.

At the same time, brick-and-click companies can face roadblocks due to the complexity, costs and resources involved with maintaining both online and physical locations. An online-only business that wants a physical location would need to invest in leasing or buying a building and obtaining employees, inventory and security systems. On the other hand, a physical location that wants an online store must deal with getting a suitable online store set up and integrating it with the physical store's inventory and processes.

Tips for Success

To keep customers walking into your physical stores, you can offer promotions like in-store discounts, allow for in-store returns and pickups and use an appealing store layout with popular products in stock. You'll also want to work toward creating a consistent experience for your customers in terms of engaging customers online and at local stores and making sure your online presence aligns with your brand's message.

Since inventory issues can create a situation where your inventory isn't in sync and can frustrate shoppers at both types of shopping locations, you can use a point-of-sale system that works in real time and helps prevent overselling items.