What is the bricks-and-clicks business model?
The term "bricks and clicks" refers to a business that has a physical retail location -- the bricks -- as well as an online presence that generates significant sales -- the clicks.
A bricks-and-clicks business combines many of the advantages of having a store that customers can visit with selling products and services over the web. However, by contrast, it also shares many of the drawbacks that come with each business strategy.
One of the advantages of the bricks-and-clicks model is that established retail stores are able to leverage advantages developed over the course of their years spent as an entirely physical presence. Many businesses are able to develop trusted brand names and a reputation that translates well onto the Internet. By contrast, dotcoms must build up their brand from scratch, without the advantage of a physical location in which they can actually meet their customers.
Another advantage of the bricks-and-clicks business model is improvements in supplier networks. The Internet offers retail stores a wider range of suppliers, potentially allowing for the ordering of new products and equipment, plus more competitive pricing. However, as websites Value Based Management and Now Sell point out, an established offline business may be able to leverage existing relationships with suppliers that have been built up through years of trust, allowing the company to receive discounts.
Just as a business that goes online can enhance its supply network, it can also widen its distribution. Products that could previously be sold only to the local community can now be placed online and shipped to people around the world. Yet, by maintaining a physical store, prospective customers can still come in and browse the store's merchandise. This is especially good for businesses in which customers are allowed the physical inspection of goods before purchasing them, such as clothiers.
One of the downsides of the bricks-and-clicks business model is that the business has higher overhead costs than both pure dotcoms and traditional brick and mortar businesses, as it has to maintain both a physical space and an Internet presence. One of the main reasons for becoming an Internet-only company is not having to pay for a physical establishment, a benefit that is negated by maintaining a store as well as a website.