Definition: Brick & Click is a business model in which a company operates both an online store (the clicks) and an offline store (the bricks) and integrates the two into a single retail strategy.

Keeping Click and Brick In Sync

Integration of online and offline sales portals is the major challenge of successfully running a brick & click store. Inventory, in particular, must be kept in sync to prevent overselling or underselling. If a single inventory is drawn from, a non-available item could be accidentally sold, but if separate inventories are used, an available item could needlessly sit in stock.

In general, use of a single POS system for both online/offline components of the store is the best solution. It needs to be an automated, real-time system that syncs inventory across all channels if it is to streamline and simplify accounting processes.

Why brick-and-mortar stores are moving online

While ecommerce in the U.S. presently accounts for only 20% of sales transactions and 7% of sales revenue, its market-share has been consistently growing by about 10% per year and reached $1.2 trillion by 2013. Thus, offline-only stores are missing out on a major market and other brick-and-click benefits, including:

  • Customers can see goods in person to assess quality and fit (with clothing), get advice from knowledgeable staff and enjoy the shopping experience.
  • Orders can be picked up at the store or delivered to customers' homes according to their preference and on their schedule.
  • Orders can be placed from mobile devices in one's spare time even when there is no access to a PC.
  • Customers will sometimes bring returns back in-person, reducing the business' shipping costs.
  • Major brick-and-mortar stores can utilize their existing logistics networks for their new ecommerce site.
  • Consumers tend to feel safer buying online from businesses with physical stores they have personally visited.

Selling opportunities go beyond a company's online and offline stores

To maximize sales, brick-and-click establishments should not only sell through their home website but also through other online channels, including:

  1. Social media websites that now allow visitors to shop without ever leaving the page they're on. "Buy Buttons" have been incorporated into Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Google is incorporating buy buttons into search ads, and Facebook has added a "Shopping Tab" to commercial pages while working on new buy features for ads, Groups, and News Feeds.
  2. Marketplaces where businesses can present/sell their products to shoppers who never visit their website. Three of the biggest are: Amazon, which charges only per-transaction fees; NewEgg, which charges a commission of 8% to 15%; and Ebay, which allows 50 items per month to be marketed for free.
  3. Comparison shopping engines that enable customers to search for a product and compare its quality, price, and shipping rate at multiple competing online retailers. Major sites include: Shopzilla, with over 100 million products and 40 million monthly visitors;, which is owned by eBay; and Google Shopping, which is integrated into Google Adwords.

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