Bricks And Clicks Business Model

  • The bricks and clicks business model involve a merchant operating both an online store and a physical retail outlet.
  • The bricks and clicks model may describe a physical retail business that establishes an online presence or the reverse scenario. Many businesses in the latter category are direct-to-consumer (D2C brands).
  • To be successful, the bricks and clicks model relies on a few key qualities. These include flexible return policies, immersive product displays, augmented browsing, and consistency in inventory. It is also important to integrate the instant gratification of in-store shopping with the convenience of online shopping.

Understanding the bricks and clicks business model

The bricks and clicks business model involve a merchant operating both an online store and a physical retail outlet.

The bricks and clicks business model refers to a combination of a physical retail store (the “brick”) and an eCommerce presence (the “click”). The model allows businesses to take advantage of both sales channels, drive more sales, and increase brand reach.

Nowadays, many businesses can be classified under the bricks and clicks business model because of the importance of having an online presence. Established retailers such as Target and Walmart are two obvious examples of companies that started with retail stores and then expanded into eCommerce. 

However, the bricks and clicks model also works in reverse. Companies that started online and then opened real-world retail locations include Casper, Warby Parker, Bonobos, Allbirds, Glossier, Peloton, and even Tesla. Many of these companies, the keen observer will note, are direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands.

What makes the bricks and clicks business model successful?

Here are a few qualities that make the model successful:

  1. Buy online, pick up in-store – while no one can doubt the popularity of eCommerce, it will never be able to match traditional shopping in terms of instant gratification. But shopping in a store has its own problems such as having to search for an item or standing in a long queue. Brands that utilize the bricks and clicks model combine convenience with instant gratification and allow the customer to get the best of both worlds.
  2. Consistent inventory – one of the most common customer frustrations is arriving at a physical store to find that a product the website said was in stock is actually out of stock. To combat this, bricks and clicks retailers need to ensure there is consistency between their online and offline inventory systems.
  3. Flexible return policies – this means that items must be convenient to return irrespective of how they were purchased. The business must allow in-store purchases to be returned in the mail and online purchases to be returned in-store.
  4. Product displays – for many consumers, one of the only reasons to visit a bricks-and-mortar store is the experience of viewing a product in person. To encourage offline fanatics to interact with its brand online, the business can ensure that its product listings are immersive, interactive, and accurately represent what is being sold.
  5. Augmented browsing – for better or worse, the sheer diversity of products available online causes some shoppers to become disappointed when they walk into a physical store. Retailers who operate smaller stores with fewer products can expand their product range virtually using tablets, QR codes, and self-service stations that connect directly to their online store.

Key Highlights

  • Definition of Bricks and Clicks Model: The bricks and clicks business model involves a merchant operating both a physical retail store (“brick”) and an online eCommerce platform (“click”). This hybrid model combines the advantages of both sales channels to increase sales and brand reach.
  • Dual Direction: The model can work in two directions – established physical retailers expanding into eCommerce (e.g., Target, Walmart) and online brands opening physical retail locations (e.g., Casper, Warby Parker).
  • Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Brands: Many companies following the bricks and clicks model are direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands, capitalizing on both online and offline customer engagement.
  • Benefits and Success Factors:
    • Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS): The model offers a balance between the convenience of online shopping and the instant gratification of in-store purchases, allowing customers to order online and pick up their items in-store.
    • Consistent Inventory: Maintaining consistent inventory information between online and offline systems to prevent customer frustration caused by product unavailability after they visit a physical store.
    • Flexible Return Policies: Allowing returns irrespective of the purchase channel (in-store returns for online purchases and vice versa) to provide a seamless experience for customers.
    • Immersive Product Displays: Enhancing the in-store experience by creating immersive and accurate product displays that replicate the online experience.
    • Augmented Browsing: Integrating technology like tablets, QR codes, and self-service stations in physical stores to virtually expand the product range and connect customers to the online store.

Connected Business Model Types And Frameworks

What’s A Business Model

An effective business model has to focus on two dimensions: the people dimension and the financial dimension. The people dimension will allow you to build a product or service that is 10X better than existing ones and a solid brand. The financial dimension will help you develop proper distribution channels by identifying the people that are willing to pay for your product or service and make it financially sustainable in the long run.

Business Model Innovation

Business model innovation is about increasing the success of an organization with existing products and technologies by crafting a compelling value proposition able to propel a new business model to scale up customers and create a lasting competitive advantage. And it all starts by mastering the key customers.

Level of Digitalization

Digital and tech business models can be classified according to four levels of transformation into digitally-enabled, digitally-enhanced, tech or platform business models, and business platforms/ecosystems.

Digital Business Model

A digital business model might be defined as a model that leverages digital technologies to improve several aspects of an organization. From how the company acquires customers, to what product/service it provides. A digital business model is such when digital technology helps enhance its value proposition.

Tech Business Model

A tech business model is made of four main components: value model (value propositions, mission, vision), technological model (R&D management), distribution model (sales and marketing organizational structure), and financial model (revenue modeling, cost structure, profitability and cash generation/management). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build a solid tech business model.

Platform Business Model

A platform business model generates value by enabling interactions between people, groups, and users by leveraging network effects. Platform business models usually comprise two sides: supply and demand. Kicking off the interactions between those two sides is one of the crucial elements for a platform business model success.

AI Business Model


Blockchain Business Model

A Blockchain Business Model is made of four main components: Value Model (Core Philosophy, Core Value and Value Propositions for the key stakeholders), Blockchain Model (Protocol Rules, Network Shape and Applications Layer/Ecosystem), Distribution Model (the key channels amplifying the protocol and its communities), and the Economic Model (the dynamics through which protocol players make money). Those elements coming together can serve as the basis to build and analyze a solid Blockchain Business Model.

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Attention Merchant Business Model

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.

Open-Core Business Model

While the term has been coined by Andrew Lampitt, open-core is an evolution of open-source. Where a core part of the software/platform is offered for free, while on top of it are built premium features or add-ons, which get monetized by the corporation who developed the software/platform. An example of the GitLab open core model, where the hosted service is free and open, while the software is closed.

Cloud Business Models

Cloud business models are all built on top of cloud computing, a concept that took over around 2006 when former Google’s CEO Eric Schmit mentioned it. Most cloud-based business models can be classified as IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), PaaS (Platform as a Service), or SaaS (Software as a Service). While those models are primarily monetized via subscriptions, they are monetized via pay-as-you-go revenue models and hybrid models (subscriptions + pay-as-you-go).

Open Source Business Model

Open source is licensed and usually developed and maintained by a community of independent developers. While the freemium is developed in-house. Thus the freemium give the company that developed it, full control over its distribution. In an open-source model, the for-profit company has to distribute its premium version per its open-source licensing model.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Freeterprise Business Model

A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Marketplace Business Models

A marketplace is a platform where buyers and sellers interact and transact. The platform acts as a marketplace that will generate revenues in fees from one or all the parties involved in the transaction. Usually, marketplaces can be classified in several ways, like those selling services vs. products or those connecting buyers and sellers at B2B, B2C, or C2C level. And those marketplaces connecting two core players, or more.

B2B vs B2C Business Model

B2B, which stands for business-to-business, is a process for selling products or services to other businesses. On the other hand, a B2C sells directly to its consumers.

B2B2C Business Model

A B2B2C is a particular kind of business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, it does that via another business. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C. The company offering the service might gain direct access to consumers over time.

D2C Business Model

Direct-to-consumer (D2C) is a business model where companies sell their products directly to the consumer without the assistance of a third-party wholesaler or retailer. In this way, the company can cut through intermediaries and increase its margins. However, to be successful the direct-to-consumers company needs to build its own distribution, which in the short term can be more expensive. Yet in the long-term creates a competitive advantage.

C2C Business Model

The C2C business model describes a market environment where one customer purchases from another on a third-party platform that may also handle the transaction. Under the C2C model, both the seller and the buyer are considered consumers. Customer to customer (C2C) is, therefore, a business model where consumers buy and sell directly between themselves. Consumer-to-consumer has become a prevalent business model especially as the web helped disintermediate various industries.

Retail Business Model

A retail business model follows a direct-to-consumer approach, also called B2C, where the company sells directly to final customers a processed/finished product. This implies a business model that is mostly local-based, it carries higher margins, but also higher costs and distribution risks.

Wholesale Business Model

The wholesale model is a selling model where wholesalers sell their products in bulk to a retailer at a discounted price. The retailer then on-sells the products to consumers at a higher price. In the wholesale model, a wholesaler sells products in bulk to retail outlets for onward sale. Occasionally, the wholesaler sells direct to the consumer, with supermarket giant Costco the most obvious example.

Crowdsourcing Business Model

The term “crowdsourcing” was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Jeff Howe in a 2006 article titled Rise of Crowdsourcing. Though the practice has existed in some form or another for centuries, it rose to prominence when eCommerce, social media, and smartphone culture began to emerge. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining knowledge, goods, services, or opinions from a group of people. These people submit information via social media, smartphone apps, or dedicated crowdsourcing platforms.

Franchising Business Model

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.

Brokerage Business Model

Businesses employing the brokerage business model make money via brokerage services. This means they are involved with the facilitation, negotiation, or arbitration of a transaction between a buyer and a seller. The brokerage business model involves a business connecting buyers with sellers to collect a commission on the resultant transaction. Therefore, acting as a middleman within a transaction.

Dropshipping Business Model

Dropshipping is a retail business model where the dropshipper externalizes the manufacturing and logistics and focuses only on distribution and customer acquisition. Therefore, the dropshipper collects final customers’ sales orders, sending them over to third-party suppliers, who ship directly to those customers. In this way, through dropshipping, it is possible to run a business without operational costs and logistics management.

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