Is ‘click and mortar’ the answer to future success for pure-play retailers?

We look at whether click and mortar is the answer to future success for pure-play retailers.
We look at whether click and mortar is the answer to future success for pure-play retailers.

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Recently, Russell Loarrdige, Director UK, ReachFive explained to Top Business Tech that the needs and desires of the modern consumer must be put first with a ‘click and mortar’ model. There has been a shift in both customer expectations and attitudes. Still, if pure-play retailers recognise this and combine a personal online experience with immersive engagement, they too can succeed. 

the surge in online shopping

For over a year and a half, buyers have been trying to avoid going to bricks and mortar shops for non-essential items and have migrated to doing most of their shopping online. In 2020, over two billion people purchased goods or services online, and e-retail sales surpassed US$4.2TRN worldwide. Online shopping is convenient, but the past year has reinforced the divide between essential and non-essential retail, the difference between the products people need and items they enjoy buying. During this time, competition escalated too. Every retailer is online now. Customers have spent a year clicking from one to the next, so where’s the loyalty?

Unfortunately, there are various issues that online shoppers may experience. With diehard online shoppers, they expect that sometimes the item they purchased may not fit or look the same as it appeared online, and they know the process of returning and reordering. New online shoppers can sometimes feel disappointed by the whole experience and may be put off purchasing certain items online.

Many online shoppers expect to see new products every day; this can be demanding and sometimes impossible for many retailers. A South African online store, Superbalist, is very good at this as it releases new brands and items every day, except for Sundays. Big retailers, such as Next, will need to stagger the release of some of their items online; however, this might be hard for smaller retailers who only have a specific amount of products for each season. 

This is where pure-play retailers need to adapt to a ‘click and mortar’ model. As non-essential retail continues again across the UK, Russell suggests that pure-play online retailers will suffer the same fate as the likes of Arcadia – who didn’t adapt quickly enough to embrace e-commerce and the wider omnichannel retail experience. To avoid this fate, they must adopt a ‘click and mortar’ model, that considers modern consumers’ shopping needs. Even companies such as Amazon have created click and mortar pop up shops to create an opportunity for small online retailers to meet customers in person and experience physical retail for the first time.

According to Investopedia, click and mortar is a business model that has both online and offline operations, typically including a website and a physical store. Millions of people go online first to see what a store has in. If they see something they like, they will most likely go through to the store to touch, feel, and gauge the quality of these items before they decide to buy.

Pure-play retailers are not limited to just investing in stores along the UK’s high streets. They can look into doing various experiences that loyal customers can be invited to, such as pop-up shops with limited stock, fashion shows with iPads around the venue where customers can purchase what they have seen, etc. Something like this can improve brand awareness as well as the relationship with current and potential customers.

There are various advantages of having the ‘click and mortar’ model that can improve your customer experience and the business as a whole. Being a ‘click and mortar’ retailer will have a wider geographic reach beyond your local area. The ‘click and mortar’ experience allows your customers to be more informed about the product they are buying. Customers can also choose if they want to buy online or if they want to go through to the store.

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages to implementing a ‘click and mortar’ business model. For pure-play retailers, it can be quite hard to transition into having a physical store as well. The retailer needs to find a balance between sustaining the success of their online platform and creating a new channel. There is also no guarantee that a physical store will work for the retailer. It all depends on the target market and the type of products the retailers sell. 

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In closing, online traffic alone and footfall alone will no longer keep retailers in business. Click and mortar is the future. Retailers need to pivot to this way of business to ensure that they firstly survive, but also to keep current customers, create enjoyable purchasing experiences and engage with their customers online and face to face. 

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Amber Donovan-Stevens

Amber is a Content Editor at Top Business Tech

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