The Clicks and Mortar model stands for multi-channel approach and is used to describe the strategy of a company that integrates physical infrastructure and virtual channels.1) This integration allows firms to exploit synergies and to provide better service to costumers.
The Clicks and Mortar approach combines the strengths of E-Commerce channels and the advantages of physical outlets. Virtual channels make distance irrelevant and thus provide access to wider markets. Furthermore they allow a 24/7 order service as well as unlimited access to information.2) On the other hand in physical stores the costumer is enabled to examine, test and try the product.3) Consulting is another aspect that can only be provided on site.
By integrating channels a company can rise its sales opportunities because through the integration of channels shopping becomes more simple and convenient for the customer. So customers are able to move flexibly from one channel to another during the purchasing process.4) For example they can research a product on the internet, gather information about the item and order the product on-line. If there are complaints about the product and the customer wants to return it, the after-sales service is provided in the physical outlet.
The Clicks and Mortar model enables companies to build up competitive advantages because of the following aspects5) :
Retailers have to be aware of the challenges the Clicks and Mortar approach poses. There might be channel conflicts like the possible cannibalization of off-line operations by on-line activities. Brand dilution is another point firms have to consider when established brands are transferred from one channel to another. 7)
Through the integration of physical and e-commerce channels firms are enabled to exploit synergies that may not be available to firms that treat these channels independently. Companies with a good physical infrastructure can use the advantages of virtual channels to target new kinds of customers and to offer more value-added services to simplify the purchasing process. The other way round building up a local presence can enhance customer value if the company is selling a product with which customers require to get in contact physically.