Successful business owners often take time to study terminology directly related to their industry or to running a business. Understanding common terms can help you articulate ideas and instructions to reduce instances of faulty communication with partners, subordinates and clients. An extensive vocabulary can also help you sound professional and knowledgeable. The word "storefront" is used across a variety of industries and has several meanings.

Word Basics

“Storefront” is a closed-form compound word in which the words “store” and “front" are joined together. Depending on context, you use the word as a noun or an adjective. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the first use of the word as a noun occurred in 1850. The first use of it as an adjective occurred in 1937.

Offline Definition

People use the term storefront to refer to the front of a brick-and-mortar store. For example, a business owner might say, “I'm buying new signage for my storefront on Monday,” “We just changed our storefront window displays” or “My storefront suffered significant damage from the recent storm.” The term is also used to refer to one or more rooms located behind a storefront, or the entire store building. A business owner might use the word as follows: “I just leased a storefront on Fifth Avenue,” “My online customers from D.C. want me to open a storefront downtown” or “All of our products are made at our storefront studio.”

Online Definition

People also talk about storefronts when referring to online stores. The term "online storefront," or digital, cyber, virtual, electronic or "e-storefront," can refer to the first page, or home page, of a retailer's Internet store, or the entire store website. It can also refer to one or more shopping pages offered by a merchant through an online mall or similar site catering to multiple businesses. You might use the word in the following ways: “My brick-and-mortar customers want a smartphone app to access my electronic storefront” or “My e-storefront is located at the XYZ virtual mall.”

Additional Usage

Many professionals offering nonretail services set up offices in store buildings because space is either cheaper to lease than at professional office sites, or is geographically closer to their clients. Many nonprofit organizations and schools also set up offices or hold meetings in store buildings. Whether an office or meeting is located in rooms directly behind a physical storefront or not, people often refer to these businesses or services by using "storefront" in a description. For example, you might hear the terms “storefront clinic," “storefront outreach," "storefront school" or "storefront church."