Brick And Mortar Meaning: What is a Brick and Mortar Store?

What does Brick and Mortar Mean?

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A brick and mortar store is a business or retail outlet that has at least one physical location. Traditional stores that you find in your local shopping mall are known as brick and mortar stores, for example.

Although the overheads associated with a brick and mortar store are far higher than if your business is simply an eCommerce venture, the necessity for a brick and mortar store for the highest conversion rates is becoming more pronounced. In fact in the USA offline sales are still 10x bigger than that of online sales and there are many reasons for that which we will explore below.

Many customers still prefer a brick and mortar store where they can physically view the product before buying it as well as asking the advice from physical rather than virtual shop assistants.

In fact, just 10 years ago you may have heard many analysts calling for the end of the brick and mortar stores. They were called old-fashioned, and the rise of the internet and ecommerce was going to close all physical stores.

We know now that this hasn’t been the case. Shoppers have turned to online sources for research and information, and will often go to a physical location – a brick and mortar store – to make the actual purchase.

What is Brick and Mortar?

The term “brick and mortar” is more commonly used today, in the digital landscape, as consumers need a way to differentiate between the retailers that work offline, and the ones they can access online. While Amazon is an “online” store, a brick and mortar store is one that you can physically visit in person.

Like any store, brick and mortar locations are all about driving amazing customer experience and sales. However, unlike online businesses, it’s possible for physical retailers to develop a closer in-person relationship with their customers. These retailers might have online shopping environments too, but they maintain their physical retail location for human interaction.

With a brick and mortar store, customers have the freedom to actually interact with the products that they’re interested in and speak to sales reps too. Look at Walmart for instance, you can shop online, but you get a very different experience in-person.

Although online businesses can save on overhead costs compared to the standard brick-and-mortar store, there are advantages to having a physical location. With a brick and mortar location, you can show your customers first-hand what your products are like.

While the demand for the online storefront is growing, and foot traffic to physical stores is slowing, there are still plenty of opportunities for having a physical presence if you run the correct business model. For instance, shopping locations like grocery stores that give customers access to the things they need instantly are a good idea for physical stores.

The Costs of Running a Brick and Mortar Store

As mentioned above, it’s generally cheaper to run an online store than a brick and mortar location, because there are fewer overheads to worry about. You don’t need to worry about things like electrical expenses for running your store, or real-estate if you’re online.

The actual cost of a brick and mortar store depends on the size of the store, the location, the kind of business you want to start, and other crucial factors. The Small Business Administration suggests that you can start a small store for as little as $3000, but there’s no one number for everyone.

To determine the cash you need to start your business, you’ll need a plan. Research your industry and think about the kind of startup costs you’ll encounter, as well as the monthly operating expenses involved. The plan also shows your business how long it will take to reach the “break point even” level. Notably, a business plan is essential for getting all the information you need for sales. However, it’s also a must-have for appealing to lenders too.

When calculating the costs of running your physical store, it’s best to overestimate. There’s a good chance that you’ll miss something on your list of must-have items that will add to your budgetary needs, so having some extra cash aside is generally a good idea. Additionally, costs that you didn’t plan for are likely to arise as you continue to run your store.

Start with your basic startup costs and think about the kind of research you might be able to do into competitors to get more information. Finding out what kind of costs similar companies contend with when starting a physical presence can help you to make more informed decisions. Some of the most common startup costs include:

  • Rent: Unless you own a physical location already that you can run your store from, you’ll need to rent a space. The size of the space and the features it offers, as well as the location you’re selling in will all effect pricing here.
  • Licensing and permit fees: Online shops can also require permits and licenses, depending on what they sell. However, it’s more likely that you’re going to need a wider selection of documentation options with a physical startup. You’ll need things like a certificate of occupancy and a seller’s permit.
  • Store fixtures: Think about the things you see when you walk into a physical store. It’s not just an empty space, you’ll have to think about shelving, display racks, furniture, cases, and other things that you need to run your store. What about your checkout counters, for instance, and storage areas?
  • Initial inventory: With a physical store, you need to be fully stocked with inventory on opening day, as well as enough products to last at least four months. If you don’t know the price of your products, you can use an estimated markup examination to back up the rates you see from your distributors.
  • Equipment and tech: More than just the standard store fixtures in your location, equipment and technology allow you to get everything up and running. You might need display monitors for showing advertisements, web access for online interactions, computers, and point of sale systems. There’s also a chance that you need extra tech depending on what you sell.
  • Business insurance: All companies should have insurance in place to protect them against various forms of legal issues. However, you will need a higher amount of insurance, and different kinds of coverage if you’re running an online store. Options could include worker’s compensation and property insurance.
  • Advertising: The chances are that you’re going to need some help getting people informed about your store. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll make a fortune through word of mouth alone, or you could risk losing a lot of cash. Think about how you can advertise yourself both online and offline.
  • Cleaning and maintenance: Yes, you do need to keep your store clean. This usually means hiring professionals to come in and clean everything for you. There’s the option to pay for services every so often, or you can keep some employees on hand for cleaning if you know that you’re going to need it more often.
  • Web hosting and online assets: Even if you’re running an offline store, you can’t rely on that alone for your sales. You’re going to need to develop an online presence with plenty of extra social media pages, email marketing, web hosting, and other expenses to pay for. The more advanced you want your site to be, the more you’ll pay.
  • Signage: Your signage in an offline store doesn’t just include the signs on your physical building that display your name. You may also need signs to show people where to go, or tell your customers which products are in each aisle.
  • Décor: To make your store look good, you’re going to need to pay for things like painting, shelving, and even attractive flooring for your customers to see. The more attractive your store is, the more professional you’re going to look.
  • Professional services: This section refers to a whole host of different costs, ranging from things like paying for your employees to work with you, to having a lawyer support you with various forms of documentation. You may also need to pay for an accountant to handle things like taxes and VAT on your account.

On top of all that, you may be able to think of additional expenses that you need to consider too, such as time clocks, security cameras, office supplies, schedule books, and countless other components. You might even decide to work with a graphic designer on branding and making a new logo.

Operating expenses like electricity, filling your supply chain, and paying employees can all seriously drain your budget initially, at least until you start making a decent profit.

No time to read? Here's our top picks when it comes to the absolute best pos systems for brick and mortar stores:

🏁 Our pick:

It’s no secret that Shopify is one of the most powerful ecommerce platforms on the web. Well, it turns out it has a brick and mortar store version of that- known as the Shopify POS. And you can bet it’s as effective as its ecommerce counterpart.

The Shopify POS, in a nutshell, is a flexible and holistically-optimized solution built for merchants who need advanced tools for their brick and mortar stores. In addition to a robust inventory management framework, the Shopify POS system comes with solid employee management, customer information handling, payment processing, and multi-store analytics capabilities.

It doesn’t stop there though. You can customize your whole Shopify POS system by integrating external apps for added functionalities. Shopify has a pretty extensive App Market with powerful options for all the core business processes.

All in all, Shopify POS is particularly ideal for dynamic merchants who’d like to set up a multi-channel sales framework. It connects with your Shopify online store to form a well-synced system, comprised of numerous in-store and ecommerce sales channels. So, in short, Shopify POS translates to immense growth potential.

Overall rating: 10/10

💰 Budget pick:
SumUp is completely free of charge. You won’t be required to pay acquisition or monthly subscription costs.

Despite the free pricing approach, SumUp doesn’t limit its features. You get everything you’d find in a premium brick and mortar store solution that would typically cost you tens of dollars a month. Plus, you can still use SumUp to set up a completely synced ecommerce site to supplement your in-store business.

Speaking of which, the sales process is not the only omnichannel system on SumUp. It’s one of the few POS solutions that bundle that with omnichannel payments. More specifically, your customers can choose to complete their purchases through either card swiping, SMS payment links, or remote CNP payments.

And for that, the transaction rates are as low as 2.65% in the US, and 1.69% in the UK. That’s fairly lower than the standard 2.75% or so, usually offered by most brick and mortar payment processors.

Overall rating: 7/10

Top POS Solutions for Brick and Mortar Stores:

Top POS Solutions for Brick and Mortar Stores: Shopify POS

Although it’s mostly renowned for its ecommerce capabilities, Shopify is also a powerhouse in the brick and mortar store space. So, to a certain extent, Shopify is an ultimate commerce system.

Now, while its online stores rely on the main Shopify platform, brick and mortar stores leverage an app called Shopify POS.

But, make no mistake. They might be two different applications, but the backend is the same. In other words, Shopify POS is holistically integrated with the whole Shopify ecosystem.

This essentially allows you to set up a supplementary brick and mortar store to supplement your online sales channels. If you use Shopify to sell on your site plus Facebook, for instance, you can still take advantage of the Shopify POS system to conduct in-store transactions.

Shopify even syncs both inventories in real-time, to help you track the item numbers across all your sales channels.

Speaking of which, Shopify POS can accommodate an unlimited number of products and categories. If you have an extensive collection of items already, simply use Shopify’s web dashboard to upload them in bulk via CSV. The whole inventory management framework here is built to offer all the functionalities you might need through a neat and straightforward interface.

It’s worth noting, however, that Shopify POS doesn’t run entirely from the web-based dashboard. Shopify offers both Android and iOS apps to help you sell anywhere at any time. And if you choose to set up a comprehensive POS system in your brick-and-mortar store, Shopify POS accommodates a wide range of retail hardware plus software.

Then since you might hire employees to help you with sales, it’s possible to create multiple secondary accounts on a single admin profile. You can manage their system privileges, as well as track their individual performance levels.

Well, apart from inventory and employees, Shopify POS gives you the ability to also manage your customers accordingly. It comes with a solid customer profile area, from where you get to save their details and track the subsequent transactions.

That said, the one thing that fundamentally sets Shopify POS apart from the rest is its extensive array of integrations. Name any popular sales application you can think of, and you’re bound to find a Shopify app version of it.

That means you can introduce pretty much any extra backend functionality. The choice is yours.

Find out more about the Shopify POS system for brick and mortar stores from our detailed Shopify POS review here.

💰 Shopify POS Pricing

  • Lite Plan – Costs $9 per month plus Shopify Payments in-person credit card fees of 2.7% + 0¢.
  • Basic Shopify Plan – Costs $29 per month plus Shopify Payments in-person credit card fees of 2.7% + 0¢.
  • Shopify Plan – Costs $79 per month plus Shopify Payments in-person credit card fees of 2.5% + 0¢.
  • Advanced Shopify Play – Costs $299 per month plus Shopify Payments in-person credit card fees of 2.4% + 0¢, and online store.
  • Shopify Plus – Special quote for large enterprise features.

Top POS Solutions for Brick and Mortar Stores: Square POS

Unlike Shopify, Square started as a payment processing solution. Then somewhere along the way, it decided to take its services two notches higher by introducing both ecommerce and POS systems.

Well, come to think of it, those were strategic moves meant to acquire additional users for Square’s payment systems. And to sweeten the deal, its ecommerce and POS platforms are completely free of charge. In short, therefore, you won’t pay even a dime for a subscription.

The only caveat is that you have to use Square’s payment solutions to process your transactions. Not bad at all if you ask me, considering Square applies very reasonable processing rates. Plus, it can accept a wide range of electronic payments, including Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Now, interestingly, Square doesn’t offer just one POS app for brick-and-mortar stores. Although there’s a Square Point of Sale app, it turns out Square has built three more POS solutions- Square Appointments, Square for Restaurants (read our Square for Restaurants Review), and Square for Retail (read our Square for Retail Review).

Well, the Square Point of Sale app, for starters, is the principal brick and mortar system here. It comes with the basic features you’d need to manage a standard brick and mortar store. Expect functionalities like offline card processing, SMS and email receipts, payment refund capabilities, discounts, tips handling, inventory management, kitchen ticket printing, receipt printing, etc.

Going by these features, it’s evident that the Square Point of Sale app can be used on pretty much any type of business. But, in case it falls short of meeting your needs, you can check out the alternative apps for specialized features.

If your brick and mortar store is quite extensive, for instance, you can choose to leverage Square for Retail instead. It’s the Square POS app optimized for established retail stores handling large inventories.

In other words, it’s a more polished version of the Square Point of Sale app, offering advanced brick and mortar functionalities. I’m talking about stuff like employee management, multi-location inventory transfer, vendor management, purchase order management, profitability tracking, and itemized exchange capabilities.

Pretty neat, I have to say. But, admittedly, a hospitality-based business would struggle to integrate such a system. And so, Square introduced Square for Restaurants to serve brick and mortar establishments like coffee shops, pubs, bars, food trucks, etc.

The app itself comes with specialized features like table plan customization, menu support, coursing, order tick handling, plus tip management.

Now, last on the list is Square Appointments, which comes in handy for managing your brick and mortar store appointments. It’s Square’s POS solution for service-based businesses that allow customers to book in advance.

Check out our detailed Square POS review for more information.

💰 Square POS Pricing

  • Square Point of Sale is permanently free, with transaction rates of 2.75% for Readers and Stand payments, 2.6% + 10¢ for Square Terminal payments, and 2.5% + 10¢ for Square Register payments.
  • Square Appointments is free for individuals, then $50 per month for stores with 2-5 employees, and $90 per month for establishments with 6-10 employees. The transaction rates for these packages are 2.75%, 2.5% +10¢, and 2.5% + 10¢ respectively.
  • Square for Retail costs $60 per month for each brick and mortar location with one point of sale register. But if you need more, Square charges $20 a month for each additional register. The transaction rates are 2.5% + 10¢.
  • Square for Restaurants costs $60 a month for one register on your restaurant location, with an additional charge of $40 per month for each extra register. The corresponding transaction rates are 2.6% + 10¢.

Top POS Solutions for Brick and Mortar Stores: Vend POS

Although several cloud POS systems can now maintain transaction processing when they go offline, none of them can match up to Vend POS. Considering it was the first EPOS service to capitalize on HTML5 for offline caching, Vend POS is undeniably the leader when it comes to offline in-store management.

That alone makes it exceptionally reliable in mobile in-person selling. You can move around freely and conduct transactions without worrying about your internet connectivity. The system simply relies on its local cache when it’s offline, and then syncs the data accordingly as soon as it reconnects to the web.

That said, brick and mortar is not the only type of store supported by Vend. It has also developed a decent ecommerce platform, in case you’d fancy taking your businesses to the next level with a secondary online store.

And yes, Vend POS and its corresponding ecommerce side are constantly synced in real-time. You can manage both of them effectively from Vend’s web-based dashboard. Then brick and mortar sales, on the other hand, are conveniently facilitated by the iPad version of Vend POS.

Combined, the iPad app plus the backend system give you all the EPOS features you might need to manage a brick and mortar store. When you need to organize your products, for example, the Vend POS system allows you to import items in bulk, as well as tweak their accompanying attributes.

And if you manage to grow your businesses, the Vend POS system is capable of integrating the employees you might bring in. You can even take advantage of the analytics here to assess their individual cash management tendencies, and the corresponding sales performance levels.

Then to top it off, the Vend POS system extends its tracking capabilities to your customers. Consequently, you can set up detailed customer profiles to monitor their spending habits, and subsequently, reward the most outstanding ones through Vend’s loyalty program.

For more insights about Vend POS, proceed to our comprehensive Vend POS review here.

💰 Vend POS Pricing

  • Lite – A single register costs $199 per month when you’re billed monthly, or $99 per month if your subscription is annual. Each additional unit will then cost you $59 per month for monthly subscriptions, or $49 per month for annual plans.
  • Pro – One register is charged $159 a month for monthly subscriptions, or $129 per month for annual subscriptions. Each additional unit goes for the same rate as the Lite plan.
  • Enterprise – This one comes with a custom quote for large brick and mortar stores.

Top POS Solutions for Brick and Mortar Stores: SumUp

Ok, SumUp might not be as established as Shopify POS or Square POS, especially in the US. But, here’s the thing that makes it exceptional – it’s completely free.

Well, if you’re based in Europe, I presume you’ve already heard about it. SumUp is, in fact, one of the most commonly used EPOS systems in the continent- with more than a million active merchants.

So far, its footprint stretches to 31 countries. That means you can travel to about 30 other countries and still set up shop. But, only for a while since SumUp’s overseas merchant accounts are temporary. And this privilege, for your information, is restricted to the 31 countries on SumUp’s operation list.

Well, that’s not the only special thing though. Interestingly, SumUp is a free POS system with features that give the premium options a run for their money.

Now, as soon as you download its POS app onto your Android or iOS device, you’ll notice that SumUP is a fully-provisioned POS system. You can, for instance, use the app version to add your items and customize their photos, prices, descriptions, plus categories.

It doesn’t stop at that. If you’re selling varying versions of the same item, SumUp is dynamic enough to accommodate several variants per product. It allows you to specify their distinct attributes like size, color, etc.

That said, SumUp’s most impressive features are revealed when you start processing payments. It’s seemingly built to provide merchants as well as customers with convenient and flexible transaction handling.

One particularly notable feature is SumUp’s Quick Sale function, which saves you the trouble of ringing up all your customers’ purchases. Simply enter the amount and voila! Payment is completed.

Speaking of which, customers can proceed with a wide of payment methods, thanks to SumUp’s omnichannel payment suite. They can, for starters, use any major card since SumUp is capable of reading both EMV chips and magnetic stripes.

Another option is payment via SMS. It just so happens that SumUP allows you to create payment links, and then send them to your customers’ phone. Once the SMS message is delivered, it only takes a click and the transaction is completed.

Well, oddly enough, you can also remotely accept CNP payments on your brick and mortar store. SumUp provides a virtual terminal, on which you just type your customers’ card details to process payments.

To learn more about SumUp, check out our comprehensive SumUp review here.

💰 SumUP POS Pricing

  • SumUp is permanently free with a flat transaction rate of 2.65%.

Top POS Solutions for Brick and Mortar Stores: Bindo POS

Bindo POS was fundamentally built to help small brick and mortar stores compete with large enterprises. But that was way after the original Bindo software had served merchants as an exclusive inventory management solution.

Now, with such reputation, it’s only natural for the Bindo POS system to offer powerful inventory management features. This is the type of solution you go for when you need specialized functionalities for managing your brick and mortar store’s products.

In fact, you don’t even need to log into Bindo’s web-based dashboard to customize your inventory. The Bindo POS system attempts to make things more convenient by offering advanced stock control privileges through its mobile app versions.

Consequently, you can easily add and tweak a wide range of product parameters on the go. But that’s not all. Bindo POS goes ahead and allows merchants to coordinate purchase orders and set up additional retail departments directly from their mobile apps.

Although you can achieve all that with a simple brick and mortar store setup, the Bindo POS system is most resourceful when you’re running multiple stores at once. You can take advantage of its extensive support framework to connect numerous store locations and track them collectively from Bindo’s centralized dashboard.

While you’re at it, you can even shift products between different store locations to balance the stock numbers on your system.

Don’t get me wrong though. Bindo is not all about inventory management. Another well-optimized function on the Bindo POS system is its customer information management. It saves all the relevant details to help you track your customers based on their contact addresses, order histories, store visit days, reward points, etc.

Then to top it off, the Bindo POS system has an analytics tool that keeps tabs on the critical metrics affecting your brick and mortar store. Consequently, it generates accurate insights about sales numbers for each store location, employee performance levels, tax summaries, top-sellers, etc.

Learn more about Bindo POS from our detailed Bindo POS review.

💰 Bindo POS Pricing

  • A brick and mortar store with about 50-1,000 products is charged about $89 a month for one Bindo POS register. Each additional unit will then cost you about $49 a month.
  • Hosting 1,000-10,000 products, on the other hand, costs roughly $149 a month.

Ecommerce vs Brick and Mortar

Both ecommerce and brick and mortar stores can wrongly be categorised in the same category. Outsiders will see them ‘retail' and they'll both be treated as the same thing. Before we dive deep into brick and mortar and the developments of it, it's always a good start to highlight how it differs from ecommerce.

There are similarities between the two but it's important to understand the key differences between them:

Location – as you are hopefully already aware, an ecommerce store doesn't have a physical location as all items are sold through a virtual shopping cart and goods are remotely shipping to the customer.

A brick and mortar business exists as a physical store or as a range of stores. It is quite rare that you will see one exist without the other these days and it's a good idea to operate both to maximise sales.

Transactions – the traditional means of paying for goods at a brick and mortar store is via card or cash. However, more of them are having to adapt to the changing times and the ‘digital wallet'.

As more people are using Apple and Android Pay to purchase goods, retail stores are having to adapt.

Of course, ecommerce stores can't accept cash but can accept payments online via PayPal and even bitcoin now, so there is flexibility on both sides.

Marketing – when it comes to marketing ecommerce and brick and mortar stores can be very different. Brick and mortar stores will use traditional techniques such as leaflets, television, radio, billboards and newspapers.

On the other hand, ecommerce stores advertise via digital marketing, making use of paid search, social media and email.

Brick and mortar stores haven't caught up in this respect and there are plenty of ways that they can use digital marketing to their advantage, in particular, data collection which we will cover below.

Human interaction card abandonment rates are typically around 80%, when shoppers are online there isn't anyone on hand to answer a question immediately or alleviate a concern. This can't be said for brick and mortar stores as members of staff can offer their time to customers to answer any questions.

This means you are likely to have a much better conversion rate with a physical store than that of an ecommerce store.

Expenses – when it comes to expenses it can be quite dismissive just to say that brick and mortar stores will cost far more than setting up an ecommerce store, but it's not the entire truth.

When you set up an ecommerce store, a package such as Shopify with some hosting and a domain can be relatively cheap but there are costs that you may not factor into the equation.

Ecommerce expenses can include but are not limited to:

  • Shipping
  • Returns
  • Customer acquisition
  • Loss of customers to competitors
  • Web hosting
  • Platform package
  • Expert help (design, development)

Brick and mortar store expenses can include:

  • Rent
  • Employees
  • Hardware
  • POS software
  • Property Tax
  • Inventory warehousing

How Mobile is Driving Brick and Mortar Stores

Invest in your mobile website – a study by mobile software developer SOTI suggested that 92% of shoppers were willing to shop at a brick and mortar store if they offered a mobile shopping experience online.

The idea being that if you can provide them with a good experience while they are on the go then they are likely to visit your shop if they are in the vicinity.

If you are offering a good mobile experience online then customers want to see that replicated in store. The same study from SOTI showed that 94% wanted more mobile-enabled technologies such as interactive kiosks, barcode scanners. Another idea is to ensure that customers can access wi-fi whilst in your store.

Research location-based advertising – it's no surprise that in order to increase sales at your physical store you need to be investing in local advertising. Long gone are the days where you would place an advertisement in the local paper or you would go flyering. Mostly for the fact that these options are time-consuming and also very costly.

Here is a list of locally based advertising strategies that you can try out very quickly:

  • Google Adwordslocation-based targeting is fantastic in targetting the people that matter to you locally, which we touch on in more detail below
  • Yelp – according to expanded ramblings, 82% of people who visit Yelp have the intention of making a purchase and this is a fantastic resource for local businesses
  • Foursquare – Foursquare enables you to target audiences based on major factors such as taste preferences, demographics, and visit history. It gives you the ability to reach 150 million unique users across their mobile app as well as the web
  • Groupon – the American company do a fantastic job of connecting subscribers with local merchants. The company boasts almost 50 million subscribers
  • Living Social – very similar to Groupon but less popular, Living Social does the same job of offering local offers. This can be on a range of different products and is often mistaking for just offering services

Use paid search – paid search is massively underused when it comes to brick and mortar. It's a fantastic tool for raising awareness of your store. As you can add:

  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Opening hours
  • Distance from the shop (on mobile)

As well as this you can also get users to set a reminder when they are near your shop so you can generate some footfall.

(Image courtesy of Specialized Digital Marketing)

If done right this can have a massive impact on your physical store. The bonus of location-based AdWords is that you only pay for clicks in your local area, which keeps the cost low. Get started on Google Adwords today.

Turn your shop into a showroom – in June of last year, Shopify published an article to their website about showrooming. What is showrooming you ask? Well, it's this:

Showrooming is when a customer comes to your shop to check out your product but purchases it whilst online at home.

This happens at people want to be able to see and feel the product first and perhaps speak to a human in the process. However, as many items are listed cheaper online they then make the purchase there. So essentially your physical store becomes a showroom for your online store.

Again this comes back to the fact that you should be providing a good experience whilst they are in the store, which includes:

  • Wi-fi access – enable free wi-fi in store so that people can access your store for product research. Perhaps you could ask for an email address and/or phone number here so you can keep them in the loop with discounts and offers
  • Local shipping – offer free shipping to their house. This means they don't have to be inconvenienced with taking the product away today, especially if its large and it gives them something to look forward to
  • Reviews – make reviews easy to see on your website so that they can make an informed decision

Use mobile payment technology – we live in a day and age where human interaction is becoming a thing of the past. Go to your local supermarket and people will be using self-checkouts. Visit your favourite ecommerce website and you'll be met with a live chat representative or even a chatbot.

The same is being said now for bricks and mortar stores and this can be done via mobile payment technology.

Companies such as Scandit have transformed brick-and-mortar retail using mobile barcode, text, object recognition technology and augmented reality for shoppers.

Its technology is already been used by huge retail brands such as Louis Vuitton, Macys and Clarks.

The benefit for your company include:

  • More options – customers don't need to bring their products to a till which saves them time on queuing creating a more satisfying shopping experience
  • Reduced staff – as a business you will spend less money on employees as now the power is in the customer's hands to perform the transaction
  • Equipment expenses – less money will now be spent on checkout hardware such as barcode scanners and tills as customers can just perform the transaction with a smart device

Digital receipts – mobile phones and digital wallets are now becoming more important. Over 250 million people, for example, are using Apple Pay and transactions are increasing every year by 500%.

Therefore, paper receipts are a thing of the past and customers want the ease of receiving a digital receipt. On these receipts as well there is ample opportunity for you to advertise discounts, reward schemes or request feedback from your customer.

Shopify POS is a fantastic tool that enables you to send digital receipts to your customers.

Try Shopify POS

In-store rewards – having in-store exclusive rewards for your customers is a great way to encourage them to visit you. Some ideas for rewards would include:

  • Discount if they ‘check in' on Facebook
  • In-store only voucher code
  • Competitions
  • Prize draw
  • Concierge services such as free home delivery

How to Stand Out With Your Brick and Mortar Store

As well as embracing mobile technology there are some other fantastic ways that you can help your physical store stand out from the rest, these include:

  • Invite customers to eventsEventbrite ran a great article on how t-shirt and tote bag company Bad Pickle Tees used their website to bring people to their events. They integrated their Eventbrite listing on to their website so anyone visiting a product page would be able to see the dates of what events they were attending a book a place on to it. Shoppers may want to see your product first and an event is a fantastic way of doing that. Additionally, they will need to enter their email address and phone number in order to attend the event so you can market to them in future.
  • Click and collect – according to Econsultancy, 44% are likely to purchase a product if there are allowed to collect it from the store. This has a two benefit as the customer is able to pick it up at their own conveinence. Most deliveries tend to come during conventional working hours and the recipient may not be home. Also for the business, you can have the opportunity to speak personally to the customer and upsell or offer them other items.
  • Exclusive in-store deals – most people have become accustomed to finding cheaper deals online for products as opposed to in-store. However, offering a cheaper price in-store isn't such a bad idea. You aren't spending money on shipping or for the employee to pack and deliver that product so can afford to offer a better deal at your physical store. Send out an email with an exclusive in-store deal. If you have the technical know how you can create a ‘Store locator' so people can find the closest store to them.
  • Sync your online and offline sales – to slightly contradict ourselves here it can also be a good idea to sync the prices that you do see across your online and offline stores. If someone, for example, sees a price online and you won't price match that in store then you can run it to a problem and potentially harm that customer relationship. Creating consistency and openness to your business is vital.
  • Create an in-store experience – the expectation on retail stores has increased exponentially in recent years and stores aren't just a physical space to store all your inventory.
  • Shoppers into fans – it can be easy just to send a one size fits all email campaign, or offer a bog standard loyalty card but think about ways you a personalise for the customer. Use your CRM system to log their interests and target them based on this.
  • Guest speakers – not everything has to be a flash sale to drive traffic. Are there authors, local celebrities or guest speakers in your niche that can visit your store? Collaborating with an author for a book signing based on your store's target market could be a great start
  • Pop-ups – the pop-up shop industry has grown to over $10 million. They have created such a buzz as they are seen as being very exclusive. You could try releasing a new set of products and only releasing them at a pop-up to gather interest
  • Reward sales staff – the biggest benefit of a brick and mortar store over an ecommerce store is human interaction. Your physical store allows you to put faces to the brand you are creating. Millenialls are interested in the story behind your company and want to invest themselves in it and the products. Therefore, its vital that your staff are briefed on how you got to where you are and what your mission is. In time you can incentivise your sales staff with commissions and vouchers based on good performance.
  • Tech is your friend – customers are becoming more tech-savvy with every passing year, so ensuring you are at the forefront of retail technology is very important. As we have touched on earlier these can include but are not limited to:
    • Digital screens – add digital screens within your shop. This can display the latest offers, allow customers to browse products, check stock availability or ask for assistance.
    • Discounts via smartphones – collect phone numbers when customers make purchases and send them discounts and coupons to their smartphones
    • Point of sale – use iPad POS so that your staff can bring the till to the customer. Therefore they can purchase the product without queuing and receive a digital receipt whilst they are there.
    • Beacons – a beacon is a small, low-powered transmitter equipped with Bluetooth that delivers messages based on person proximity. If your store has an app you can target bluetooth enabled smartphones by sending them marketing messages. According to beaconstac, 80-90% of Android users only use an app once before uninstalling. With this technology, you can target customers to reuse the app and take advantage of your offers.

How Point of Sale (POS) is Revolutionising Brick and Mortar Stores

If you are looking for a point of sale option for your brick and mortar store then it can be very overwhelming. There are hundreds of companies now who are all offering fantastic features.

Below are 5 features that we feel matter the most, which in turn should help you decide which POS system you should choose.

1. Product lookup

A good POS system should allow you to have a short command which will bring up your most popular products.

This will quicken the process for both the customer and the staff. It will also increase job satisfaction for your employees as it makes their job so much easier. A feature like this can be handled by Vend.

2. Multiple payment methods

As we've touched on earlier, allowing your customers to pay via many different means is vitally important. Find a POS system that allows mobile payments as well as being able to split payment via different methods.

3. Bulk product imports

Having a POS system that allows you to upload multiple products in the first instance is a big dealbreaker. If you are a business with a lot of products then manually uploading each one individually can be a very tedious business.

4. Searchable customer information

Being able to quickly search for customer information if they come into the store or contact you is incredibly important for a number of reasons including:

  • History – this allows your customers to return items if they have lost the receipt, or for your benefit to target them based on product purchases.
  • Properties – you may want to edit your customer information such as a change of name, number or address
  • Loyalty – you can quickly add a customer to your loyalty program so that they are sent VIP offers

5. Reports

Reporting is essential in determining the success of your business, so having a POS system that supplies the following reports is vital:

  • Dashboard – if you are running a brick and mortar and an ecommerce store time is precious, so having a dashboard which you can see all the important statistics is vital
  • Product – make decisions on your products by seeing which are selling well and which aren't
  • Employee – which of your employees is performing well and who isn't? Reward hard work to increase job satisfaction
  • Customer – see who are your best customers and who haven't visited for a while to inform your marketing messages
  • Custom – find a POS system that enables you to create your own custom reports

Pros of Brick and Mortar Stores

Instantaneous – purchasing a product in the store gives a customer instant gratification. If you are purchasing from an ecommerce store then you have to rely on delivery, which invariably can come from a third party that isn't directly representing the ecommerce store

Try before you buy – you can't replace the fact that you can try on something before you buy it. Customers these days are expecting free returns online and may even buy the same product in several sizes with the intention of returning at least one.

This can eat into your bottom line as an ecommerce store as you will have to pay for the initial shipping of the product.

Social occasion – shopping in an ecommerce store can be a lonely experience and it can't compete with the social aspect that a brick and mortar store offers with friends.

Customer experience: Customers want to feel like they’re getting a unique experience whenever they shop with a brand. Online retailers can struggle to deliver this, even with a unique website or app. When you have a link to your customers in person, you can create more memorable interactions. You could even create apps for mobile devices that generate vouchers for people who visit you in person.

Relationship building – when shopping online most of (if any) your communications are done through live chat, email or social media which doesn't allow you to connect directly with a human.

Having a face and a story to tell can hell customers buy into your brand which can convert them into fans.

More sales – it's no surprise but having multiple channels that customers can purchase products means that you will increase sales. You may find that some people are reluctant to buy online and they may be searching for a brick and mortar store.

No shipping – shipping products is an expensive business. If you don't have your own delivery team then the mercy of your products lies in the hands of a third party courier. Not only can this be quite expensive but this doesn't factor in the returns and the broken or missing products that need to be redelivered

Security – in-store transactions are a lot more secure than ecommerce stores. Hackers and suspicious activity is, unfortunately, a common thing in the ecommerce world. If there is a breach of security then this may deter customers from returning, whereas this is far less likely to happen with a physical store.

Customers feel more empowered: In a physical store, your customers hold all the power. While that might seem true of an ecommerce business too, online stores don’t allow customers to ask sales teams for assistance in a matter of seconds. Your online store also doesn’t allow your potential customers to pick up an item and examine it.

Easier returns: If your customer has any issues with a product you’re retailing, they can simply return it to your brick-and-mortar presence. This cuts down the time of the return and refund process, so you can manage your books faster.

Cons of Brick and Mortar Store

Employees – yes that's right you will have to pay people to operate your store. All sorts of considerations including holiday and sickness pay as well as ensuring job satisfaction need to come into it

Overheads – the overheads of running a brick and mortar initially are much more than running an ecommerce store. You need to ensure you have enough capital. Commonly a brick and mortar store follows the success of an ecommerce store as it is very costly when you consider warehouse costs, rent, employees, hardware amongst others

Time constraints – the amount of time it takes you to launch a brick and mortar store as well as successfully run it can be very time-consuming. This means it might deviate your attention away from your ecommerce store

Store hours – your ecommerce store is essentially a 24/7 365 days a year shop window. If you have a brick and mortar store then you have opening hour constraints, as well as deciding if 7 days a week is a viable business option for you

Travel – of course, if people want to visit your store then they are going to have to travel to you. You can overcome this with a pop-up store and perhaps doing a tour of a certain part of the country.

Limited scalability: If your traditional business starts to grow at an incredible pace, and you generate more total retail sales, you might decide that you want to grow and open more locations. Unfortunately, that means tracking down new real estate, employees, and figuring out where to open up shop. Online, you can just expand delivery areas.

Limited reach: With a traditional brick and mortar store, you’re limited to delivering the best experiences to the people who are closer to your physical destination. That can make it harder to establish a wider presence for your entire city or country.

Is a Brick & Mortar Store Right for You?


As we mentioned earlier the initial set up costs for running a brick and mortar store are expensive. If you have already built a brand online and have the money to spare then go for it!

It's also vitally important in 2019 that you are at the forefront of technology. So getting involved with and embracing POS, beacons, digital wallets and digital marketing is essential.


If you haven't started selling at all then we would suggest dipping your toe in the water with ecommerce first. Setting up a brick and mortar store is costly.

If after some time you start to build up some money then sample starting a pop-up store at an event. If this becomes a success then you can start looking at a permanent store.


Brick and mortar stores aren't the traditional vehicle that they used to be. The way millennials are interacting with them and their expectation levels of digital screens, personalized shopping experiences and mobile technology has moved the goalposts.

Brick and mortar stores can act as a great accompaniment to your ecommerce store which can in turn reciprocally benefit both.

Have you opened up a brick and mortar store? Looking to move into pop-up stores? Leave a comment below and let's get the conversation started.

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter is an experienced content creator, news reporter, and blogger specializing in marketing, business development, and technology. Her expertise covers everything from artificial intelligence to email marketing software and extended reality devices. When she’s not writing, Rebekah spends most of her time reading, exploring the great outdoors, and gaming.

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