In a world where virtual experiences are blending in with reality, it makes most sense that companies will try to use this to their advantage. That’s why the brick and click business model was created – to unify two different sales channels into an integrated brand experience.
In this article, we’ll first discuss the advantages and disadvantages of operating in this way. Then, we’ll present the essentials for running a successful brick and click store.
What Are the Pros and Cons of the Brick and Click Business Model?
First off, let’s look at both sales channels separately, as each of them has its advantages over the other.
The Benefits of E-shops
Online stores are a very convenient option for clients since they can research products/services and place orders from anywhere. So companies that optimize their online presence continuously can maintain a steady revenue and even grow.
At the same time, online stores can be advertised in a more targeted and inexpensive way than brick-and-mortar stores. A good mix of channels can ensure that businesses reach the intended audience at the ideal moment. These include social media, email, SEO, SEM and others.
What’s more, these online marketing channels make it easier and less expensive for small and medium businesses to collect audience/customer insights. They can later use them to create even more effective advertisements in the future.
Not to mention that e-commerce businesses imply reduced logistical costs. The inventory generally stays in one place, and because products don’t need to be displayed nicely, they can be stacked together to occupy less space. Also, there’s no need to hire on-site personnel to assist clients.
The Benefits of Physical Retail
Traditional retail is the best option for people who are not comfortable with shopping online. They may not possess the necessary skills to use modern technologies or they may prefer to have the products right in front of them. Also, there are instances when customers don’t want to wait around until an online order is delivered. They require the products as soon as possible, so a trip to the store is the more convenient choice.
Running a physical store can also be a great opportunity for building customer trust. The direct interaction between the customer and the sales clerk allows for better focus on customer support. Additionally, the fact that people can have a first-hand experience with the product has a strong persuasive value. This is supported by the fact that sensory stimulation continues to be an essential factor in the decision-making process.
Advantages of Brick and Click Stores
Integrating physical retail with online shopping can allow companies to reach more audiences at the same time. Clients are not only free to pick their favorite sales channel, but they can also combine them in the most convenient way for them. For example, people can place an online order and pick up the products in-store (books, clothes, etc.). Or, on the side of the spectrum, they can go into the store to examine the product and order it online to be delivered at home (furniture, electrical devices, etc.).
Giving your clients more options means providing them with a better customer experience. But for this, you need to communicate very clearly what are those options – otherwise, you may confuse them even more.
Managing a brick and click business also means that you can collect insights from multiple sources and correlate them. This way, you’ll gain complex data about your customers and focus your marketing and sales efforts in the right direction. You can learn about the customer journey and customer trends in order to improve your online and offline presence.
Disadvantages of Brick and Click Stores
Implementing this business model may take a long time, and this process may interfere with other sides of the business – causing halts in the sales process. You have to follow a plan and always look at the big picture.
Also, integrating online and offline operations is likely to generate extra costs, as it practically requires running two businesses at the same time.
Another challenge can be that you and your team will likely need to learn how to manage a new sales channel. This means that delays and mistakes may come up along the way.
What Are the Main Requirements for Running a Brick and Click Store?
1. Leverage Customer Insights
Use the information you can obtain about your clients’ demographics and behaviors to your advantage. Learn what they want and how you can fit into their world in order to get the desired results.
2. Centralize Operations
Although your online and physical stores could be run independently, it’s best for your business to centralize everything. This will give you a clear picture of the operations among all channels and it will make it easier to manage everything.
ERP applications are extremely useful in this regard, as they allow you to have complete access to data in real-time and to customize the system according to your needs. Because such solutions help you reduce error rates, you can better prevent out-of-stocks and customer loss. Additionally, inventory and order management programs make shipping and return easy.
3. Ensure a Consistent Brand Experience
Use an omnichannel approach to maintain cohesiveness across your brand touchpoints. Here you can find a helpful guide to get you started.
4. Consider When Channel-specific Approach is Necessary
Even though you must stay true to your brand’s essence, it’s necessary to apply different strategies for each sales channel. This stems from the characteristics of each medium.
In a physical store, you’ll have to pay attention to how the products are organized and displayed so that you highlight the most important things. Also, careful thought needs to be put into how the customers will navigate through the store. What are the places you’d prefer them to stop and take a closer look?
At the same time, online stores require different things. For your online customers, product descriptions and high-quality pictures are absolutely necessary. The layout is also important, but not in the same sense as in a brick-and-mortar store. The aspect of the website stays clean and unambiguous so that people don’t get tired and leave the site as soon as they land on it. Also, you must clearly indicate to the customers what are the next steps you want them to take – e.g. open a product page, add the product to the card, proceed to checkout, etc.
The Brick and Click Business Model is Not Universal
Now you have a proper idea about what it means to run a brick and click business. But don’t get stuck here, because you can get as creative as you want. Study your audience to cater to their needs, consider what you can do to streamline business processes and you’ll be on the right track.
This approach takes time and commitment to be implemented. But it may be one of the best ways to address the latest consumer trends worldwide.
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Ștefania Bulgaru is a Digital Marketer for Megaventory, the online inventory management system that can help medium-sized companies synchronize stock over multiple stores. She believes that good communication can solve almost any problem and she likes to stay up to date with the latest digital marketing technologies.