Throughout the past month, we have taken a deeper look into the importance of creating an omnichannel experience for your retail customers and discussed the various ways you can improve your multiple channels. This inevitably raises the question of what channels, specifically, should receive the most attention and investment. There’s always the potential to sink millions into individual channels, like online stores and apps, which could end up being redundant or don’t convert well.
You have almost certainly heard the phrase “click-and-mortar” before, likely in one of its various forms, with “clicks-and-bricks” and “WAMBAM (Web Applications Meets Brick-And-Mortar)” being two other common variations of the same concept. However, you may not be fully versed in what makes it distinct from the concept of omnichannel retail, nor the advantages and disadvantages associated with this business model. Let’s take a closer look.
The most common definition of “click-and-mortar” retail is fairly simple: blended online and in-store strategies place companies in both types of markets, maximizing their potential consumer base. Therefore, a click-and-mortar store is one that is able to generate revenue through their online store in addition to their physical locations.
Though it’s noticeably similar in definition, it is not identical to cultivating multiple channels. Click-and-mortar retail is focusing on two distinct types of channels, physical and online stores. While a pizza company that has a website that lets you order online is considered click-and-mortar, it is by no means an omnichannel giant. This is particularly true if their ability to order online is limited to a singular type of device, like desktop computer.
Advantages of Click-and-Mortar Retail
The most readily apparent aspect of offering both online and in-store options is in versatility. That is, having the ability to appeal to customers regardless if they prefer to order online or if they like to visit a physical store makes a company versatile. What distinguishes click-and-mortar from simply one or the other is this wide appeal.
In addition, the delineation between click-and-mortar and the more ambitious multichannel retail is simply a matter of cost. An IT director might look at the costs of managing an online store and keeping physical stores open as substantially lower than having an entirely interactive IT infrastructure, in-store mobile engagement, and the catering of a consistently unique shopping experience.
Where Click-and-Mortar Falls Short
The evidence supporting a click-and-mortar business model is readily apparent, being that the success of businesses that employ e-commerce and physical locations can be seen in the stores that dominate the retail market. However, it’s also apparent that many stores are transitioning away from being solely click-and-mortar. The name “click-and-mortar” might be a bit of a misnomer; it implies that a store is only employing two channels. In recent years, successful retailers have been adopting a greater number of channels, albeit slowly. However, it’s also apparent that customers are disappointed with this progression, and are demanding a greater number of channels to interact with.
Consequently, even though it is less expensive to simply focus on having an online store and a traditional location, this model might not be enough even to compete today. Even if you haven’t noticed it, companies like Disney, Virgin Mobile, and Starbucks are already ahead of the curve in building an omnichannel experience. If having just an online store didn’t set you behind before, it’s certainly the case now.
Expanding Your Channels
There are a number of options for expanding your business channels. If you’re just getting started, following the lead of other businesses is a great launching point for personalizing the experience of your own retail stores. Mobile-friendly environments and IoT-integrated devices have been the first steps in many retail environments, with custom touchpoints developing as you learn what works for your business.