Bricks and clicks

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A Safeway delivery truck illustrates how some traditional supermarkets are now pursuing a bricks and clicks strategy.

Bricks and clicks (aka clicks and bricks, click and mortar, bricks, clicks and flips, or WAMBAM[1]) is a business model by which a company integrates both offline (bricks) and online (clicks) presences, sometimes with the third extra flips (physical catalogs). Additionally, many will also offer telephone ordering and mobile phone apps,[2] or at least provide telephone sales support.

A popular example of the bricks and clicks model is when a chain of stores allows the customer to order products either online or physically in one of their stores, also allowing them to either pick-up their order directly at a local branch of the store or get it delivered to their home. There are many alternative combinations of this model. The success of the model in many sectors has lessened the credibility of some analysts who argued that the Internet would render traditional retailers obsolete through disintermediation.[3]


The first ever purchase from a company arguably operating a bricks and clicks business model was a Pizza Hut pizza, ordered over the internet from a physical store.[4] The online pizza delivery business has gained a great deal of popularity since, with delivery company Dominos Pizza now reporting that over 69.7% of orders are placed online before being sent to a physical store, gaining the firm £204.7m (approx. $329m) in 2013 in the United Kingdom alone. The great surge in adoption of the bricks and clicks model came around 2000, with large retailers such as Wal Mart starting websites that allow users to browse the same goods they would find in store from the comfort of their homes.[5]


The bricks and clicks model has typically been used by traditional retailers who have extensive logistics and supply chains, but are well known and often respected for their traditional physical presence. Part of the reason for its success is that it is far easier for a traditional retailer to establish an online presence than it is for a start-up company to employ a successful purely online one, or for an online only retailer to establish a traditional presence, including a strong and well recognised brand, without having a large marketing budget.[6] A bricks and clicks business model can benefit various members of a customer base. For example, supermarkets often have different customers types requiring alternative shopping options; one group may wish to see the goods directly before purchase and like the convenience of quickly shopping on-the-fly, while another group may require a different convenience of shopping online and getting the order delivered when it suits them, having a bricks and clicks model means both customer groups are satisfied. Other previously online-only retailers have stated that they have found benefit in adding a brick-and-mortar presence to their online-only business, where customers can physically see and test products before purchase.[7] It can also be said that adoption of a bricks and clicks model where a customer can return items to a brick and mortar store can reduce wasted costs to a business such as shipping for undelivered and returned items that would traditionally be incurred.[8]


A major factor in the success or failure of this business model is in the control of costs, as usually maintaining a physical presence —paying for many physical store premises and their staffing— requires larger capital expenditure which online only businesses do not usually have. Conversely, a business selling more luxurious, often expensive, or only occasionally purchased products —like cars— may find sales are more common with a physical presence, due to the more considered nature of the purchasing decision, though they may still offer online product information. However, some car manufacturers such as Dacia have introduced online configurators that allow a customer to configure and order complete cars online, only going to a dealership to collect the completed car,[9] which has proven popular with customers.[10]

"On the other hand, an online-only service can remain a best-in-class operation because its executives focus on just the online business." It has been argued that a bricks and clicks business model is more difficult to implement than an online only model.[11] In the future, the bricks and clicks model may be more successful, but in 2010 some online only businesses grew at a staggering 30%, while some bricks and clicks businesses grew at a paltry 3%.[12] The key factor for a bricks and clicks business model to be successful "will, to a large extent, be determined by a company’s ability to manage the trade-offs between separation and integration" of their retail and online businesses.[13]

Notable Examples[edit]

British retailer John Lewis has found success in adopting a bricks and clicks business model, with the online ordering service outperforming brick and mortar sales for several years running.[14] Online auction website eBay have also launched a scheme in cooperation with catalogue shop Argos that allows goods sold by third parties to be collected in a brick-and-mortar location, which allows the customer to collect goods at their convenience rather than wait at home for a delivery company.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Web application meets bricks and mortar : A Dictionary of the Internet Oxford Reference". Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 30 September 2013. )
  2. ^ Bogaisky, Jeremy. "Retail In Crisis: These Are The Changes Brick-And-Mortar Stores Must Make". Forbes. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Sibun, Jonathan. "The internet has made shops obsolete in some towns". The Telegraph. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Webley, Kayla. "A Brief History of Online Shopping". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  5. ^ Wal Mart Corporate |url= missing title (help). Retrieved 19 October 2014. 
  6. ^ Mahar, Stephen; Wright, P. Daniel; Bretthauer, Kurt M.; Hill, Ronald Paul. "Optimizing marketer costs and consumer benefits across "clicks" and "bricks"". Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  7. ^ Baker, Lindsay. "Online retailers move into bricks and mortar stores". BBC News. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Mixing bricks with clicks". The Economist. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "Order A Dacia Online". Dacia. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  10. ^ Watson, Tim. "Dacia Duster £100 deposit deal". Auto Express. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Stross, Randall (18 September 2010). "Netflix Is Beating Blockbuster With Clicks, Not Bricks". The New York Times. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Gulati, Ranjay; Jason Garino (May–June 2000). "Get the Right Mix of Bricks and Clicks". Harvard Business Review: 107–114. 
  14. ^ Vizard, Sarah. "John Lewis credits ‘bricks and clicks’ success for ‘decisive’ market share gain". Marketing Week. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  15. ^ Mellor, Rachel. "eBay to offer a click and collect service using Argos". Move Hut. Retrieved 17 October 2014. 

Further reading[edit]