Click and Mortar is a play on words for brick-and-mortar, where mortar stands for material to bound bricks, and a “click” referred to an e-commerce website. Click and Mortar shops allow customers either to browse across the retailer’s website or visit a physical store.
Nowadays it’s even shocking to meet a company not having the offline-online synchronization. A pure online or offline approach doesn’t meet the need of today’s customers, while an interplay between the two drives conversion and widers the range platforms and services. This business model may be referred to as an omnichannel strategy and is followed by as huge retailers as Wal-Mart, Amazon, Nordstorm and Best Buy.
Research online purchase offline is a recognized strategy among at least 35% of shoppers, and 33% go to the physical store when they need something urgently. New customer behaviour consists of treating a shop like a showroom, trying a pair of shoes and ordering them online afterwards. That’s a risk for small shops selling good easy to purchase online.
No matter how large the shop is, going online means creating a business-in-a-business. Moreover, every category may become a separate business unit with a head-of-category to define its plans and strategies. While going online, a retailer needs to specify his aims and global plan: will online become a number two channel or will the new online shop grow up to a separate e-tailer giant?
It defines the further business strategy, financial planning, hiring process, etc.
Advantages. A brand built offline is easier to promote in the highly competitive online environment.
Challenges. 1) To acquire new tools which would support the online channel
2) To build a team of retail-managers specializing in online sales
3) To identify the business strategy, environmental factors the influence e-tailers, organizational factors affecting the process of becoming a click and mortar retailer
4) To adopt the internet-used models for e-commerce
5) To accommodate to the marketplaces
Case. On the way to e-commerce success, Wal-Mart is buying web retailers such as Modcloth, Jet.com, Bonobos. It means that brick-only or click-only approaches are not viable anymore.
There are two main channels for retailers willing to sell online: a website and a page on a marketplace. While trying to develop the last channel, a retailer needs to make priorities. Usually a marketplace becomes an extra platform for selling goods, another business-in-a-business requiring its own development program, competitive pricing strategy, and marketing specialists.
The marketplace is a competitive environment on it’s own, with particular rules, and ratings which directly influence retailer’s income. Every extra cent in price, every bad review and delivery condition are decisive factors.
That’s why in this case, the retailer needs to build a special team dedicated to supporting the marketplace account.
About ten years ago retailers were thinking that the commerce world is going online-only, killing brick-and-mortar shops. Though digital shopping moves on, e-tailers recognize the importance of customer experience. Walk-in traffic doesn’t exist online. Going offline creates brand equity. That’s why Amazon or Warby Parker are scrambling to open physical stores.
58% among young shoppers (comparing to 43% of shoppers aged between 26-35) prefer to shop in a physical store seeking an authentic experience: discounts, food and drinks, and more personalization.
Advantages. 1) Going offline has a good competitive advantage, as more and more retailers are going online and can be difficult to be noticed on the internet.
2) To become omnichannel, online stores don’t need to acclimate to the internet environment.
3) Stores are more profitable than ecommerce, due to such factors as handling or shipping, and the costs of returns are much lower. Retailers’ stores are subsidizing the online.
Challenges. When the core shop is set online, it's not easy to launch a physical store, because it requires a visual merchandising and a different hiring model.
Case. An example of in-person experience of a retailer rooted online: a partnership with Argos allows eBay to create a “click and collect” service for shoppers to pick up the items they ordered online in the nearest partner’s physical store, thus shortening the delay of retrieval.
Modern shoppers become more connected and demanding: they need a continuous and transparent experience, an omnichannel shopping journey allowing them to move from one option to another.
The dependence on an online-only or offline-only approach puts the retailer in an undesirable position.
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