Brick and mortar
(also bricks and mortar
) refers to a physical presence of an organization or business in a building or other structure. The term brick-and-mortar business
is often used to refer to a company that possesses or leases retail stores, factory production facilities, or warehouses for its operations. More specifically, in the jargon of e-commerce businesses in the 2000s, brick-and-mortar businesses are companies that have a physical presence (e.g., a retail shop
in a building) and offer face-to-face customer experiences.
This term is usually used to contrast with a transitory business or an Internet-only presence, such as fully online shops, which have no physical presence for shoppers to visit
, talk with staff in person
, touch and handle products and buy from the firm in person. However, such online businesses normally have non-public physical facilities from which they either run business operations
(e.g., the company headquarters and back office
facilities), and/or warehouses for storing and distributing products. Concerns such as foot traffic
, storefront visibility, and appealing interior design apply mainly to brick-and-mortar businesses rather than online ones. Nevertheless, even an online-only business needs
to have an attractive, well-designed website, a reliable e-commerce system for payment, a good delivery
or shipping service and effective online marketing tactics to drive web traffic to the site. Governments are also adopting e-government approaches, which is the use of online services for citizens to enable them to fill
in government forms, pay tax bills and register for government programs online; these services aim to cut
bricks and mortar costs (building leasing/purchase and staff costs) and improve services to citizens (by offering 24/7 access to information and services).
The divergence between brick-and-mortar businesses and online businesses has expanded in the 2000s as more and more entrepreneurs and established organizations create profitable products known as web "apps" (software applications) and mobile apps. Many web and mobile apps are digitally distributed to customers online and offer value without delivering a physical product or direct service, thereby eliminating the need for manufacturing products, warehousing
them, and distributing them using shipping and delivery services and/or physical retail outlets. As well, due to the shift to digital media
in audio and video, stores are able to sell digital audio files of songs or digital movies or TV shows over the Internet, either by selling the file to the customer or allowing, for a subscription fee, the consumer to "stream" the songs, movies or TV shows to their digital device. Furthermore, the advent of reliable, affordable remote business collaboration tools such as teleconference phone systems and videoconferencing systems (e.g., Skype) diminishes the need for physical business buildings and offices for many Web and mobile product businesses.
Some stores have both a strong bricks and mortar presence and extensive online shopping
services. Examples include Best Buy
, Walmart, and Target. While these stores are primarily known as brick-and-mortar businesses, they also have major online shopping websites. In the 2010s, the presence of online stores is adversely affecting some bricks and mortar-only businesses, as some customers are engaging in "showrooming". Customers who are "showrooming" go to a local bricks and mortar store's showroom to test and try out products, and then note the brand and model number, and leave the brick and mortar store and then buy the product from an online store, often for a lower price. Some bricks and mortar stores state that this trend is decreasing their sales.