Brick & Mortar vs Online Retail

jkurtzman Customer Loyalty, digital promotions

According to research by Marketing Land, customers view brick and mortar stores and online stores as a “single lense”.

Despite the ease of online shopping, consumers still crave the tactile experience of physical stores. Both online and brick and mortar stores have their pros and cons.

Online stores:

Pros: convenience, speed, larger inventory, do not have to travel to store

Cons: cannot physically see the items, or try them on, cannot immediately receive the item, need access to Internet

Brick and Mortar:

Pros: Can physically see and touch the items, can immediately buy/return/exchange items

Cons: Smaller inventory, have to travel to store (have the means to travel)


“By offering complementary benefits, as well as engaging customers via mobile, both in-store and online retailer channels can strengthen overall customer engagement and brand affinity. And the best news for retailers taking an integrated approach: higher revenues and profitability.”

– Allan Halms, Marketing Land


For some online-only concepts, corporate executives are realizing that the experience of looking at and trying out a product requires a certain level of physical presence. As an example, online-only mattress company Casper began a partnership with Target earlier this year to maximize its reach to consumers looking for a touch-and-feel experience prior to purchase

On the other hand, some online clothing stores are bringing the dressing room to your home. They mail you hand picked clothes from stylists, then you simply return whatever you do not want.

Many major brands are looking at ways to drive online sales while encouraging the shopper to their physical location through discounts on purchases, free or heavily discounted add-on items and exceptional in-store customer service.

For example, Walmart’s ‘Pickup Discount’ which offers shoppers a discount if they purchase items online then come into the store to retrieve them. Almost half of online purchases from home improvement giant Home Depot are picked up in the store, according to Forbes.

Recently, Amazon began opening physical storefronts to accommodate consumer’s desire for same-day pickup, as well as in-store returns and other perks that keep customers coming back.

Some retailers such as Amazon or Target offer perks that are available no matter how a customer decides to make a purchase. Their cash back or percentages off purchase are offered in-store and online, so customers can shop whichever way works better for them.

Recently, many retailers have struggled to see the type of sales they are used to seeing during peak sales times, such as Black Friday. Both brick and mortar, and online retailers are turning to promotions to draw customers back in throughout the year.

Whether companies are engaging with consumers online or in-store with personalized offers, or letting them know that an abandoned shopping cart item is now on sale in the store, retailers have many options to draw their customers in. Particularly by unifying their channel strategies.