clicks and mortar

Clicks and mortar (sometimes seen as clicks-and-mortar) is a term describing traditional old economy companies that are taking advantage of the Internet and the new economy it has introduced. The term derives from bricks and mortar, used in the context of the Web to describe traditional companies with physical (rather than Web site) locations. In the news media, the success of Internet companies like, the online bookstore, led to a comparison with traditional bricks and mortar businesses such as Barnes and Noble (which at some point added a competitive Web site and became an example of clicks and mortar.)

As typically used in the media, a clicks and mortar company is one that has begun to exploit the Internet, not only in marketing and sales, but also in terms of its total business process. A clicks and mortar firm would be likely to take part in business-to-business (B2B) exchanges.

The term's origin is attributed to David Pottruck, CEO of Charles Schwab Corp, in a July, 1999 speech at a conference sponsored by the Industry Standard. Pottruck is quoted as saying:


Schwab's vision has always been designed around customer needs and the company is engaged in constant reinvention to stay ahead of these powerful investors. Schwab believes that it is the combination of people and technology that investors want -- a "high-tech and high-touch" approach. As such, Schwab is redefining the full-service business around the integration of "clicks and mortar."
This was first published in March 2007

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