Brick and Mortar

Definition of Brick and Mortar

“Brick and mortar” refers to a traditional physical store, establishment, or business that operates in a building or retail space, as opposed to an online or virtual-only presence. This term is often used to contrast physical businesses with their online counterparts, highlighting aspects such as face-to-face customer interactions and on-site merchandise handling. It encapsulates the concept of tangible, physical locations where customers can personally visit, shop, or access services.


The phonetic transcription of “brick and mortar” in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/brɪk ənd ˈmɔːrtər/One thing to note for the American pronunciation is that the second ‘r’ in “mortar” would be pronounced: /ˈmɔrtər/

Key Takeaways

  1. Brick and Mortar stores offer a physical location for customers to touch and feel products, allowing for a tangible shopping experience and building trust in brands.
  2. These stores facilitate personal customer service through face-to-face interaction, providing shoppers with personalized assistance and immediate answers to their questions.
  3. Brick and Mortar often have higher operating costs and less flexibility compared to online stores, due to expenses associated with rent, utilities, and in-store staff. However, they also provide the opportunity for impulse purchases and upselling through in-person browsing and product displays.

Importance of Brick and Mortar

The term “brick and mortar” is important in the context of technology as it refers to traditional physical storefronts or businesses that offer products and services in a face-to-face setting, as opposed to online or digital platforms.

The significance of brick and mortar businesses lies in their ability to provide customers with tangible experiences, hands-on interaction with products, and personalized services that are sometimes lost in the digital realm.

Additionally, brick and mortar stores contribute to local economies, create job opportunities, and act as social hubs in communities.

In the era of rapid technological advancement and the growth of e-commerce, the term helps highlight the enduring value that physical retail spaces offer and the need for businesses to balance between digital and physical presence to stay competitive and cater to diverse consumer preferences.


Brick and mortar establishments serve as the traditional physical backbone of commerce, with businesses operating from physical locations, such as storefronts, buildings, and shopping centers. The primary purpose of these entities is to allow customers to browse and purchase products or services in-person, creating tactile and visual experiences.

Brick and mortar stores play a crucial role in fostering personal interactions and establishing trust between businesses and consumers. It is in these physical spaces that businesses can showcase their products or services and build their brand image by offering a welcoming and aesthetically pleasing environment.

Furthermore, brick and mortar locations strengthen local economies by providing employment opportunities and contributing to urban development, creating social hubs where consumers can interact with one another and support surrounding establishments. These businesses also develop lasting relationships with their local communities through initiatives like sponsorships and charitable events, forging a strong connection between the enterprise and its neighborhood.

Despite the growing trend towards e-commerce, brick and mortar stores continue to fulfill essential aspects of the consumer experience that solely online platforms may struggle to provide, such as tactile interaction with products, in-person customer service, and immediate availability.

Examples of Brick and Mortar

Grocery Stores: A prominent example of brick and mortar is your local grocery store, such as Walmart, Target, and supermarkets like Kroger or Tesco. These establishments have physical retail locations where customers can visit, browse and purchase items in person. Such stores offer a variety of products, from fresh produce to household cleaning supplies, which the customers pick up themselves.

Clothing and Apparel stores: Another example of the brick and mortar model is clothing retail stores like H&M, Zara, and Macy’s. These stores operate in physical locations where customers can go to try on and purchase clothing and accessories. Brick and mortar clothing stores often provide changing rooms, allowing customers to physically assess the comfort and fit of the clothes before making a purchase.

Bookstores: Traditional bookstores like Barnes & Noble or Waterstones are prime examples of brick and mortar establishments. These shops offer customers the opportunity to browse through aisles of books, read their synopses, and even skim through pages before deciding to purchase. Many bookstores also offer additional services such as comfortable seating areas for reading, cafes, and events featuring authors.

Brick and Mortar FAQ

What is a brick and mortar business?

A brick and mortar business refers to a traditional physical establishment where the company conducts its operations and offers products or services to customers in person, as opposed to an online store or platform.

What are the advantages of brick and mortar businesses?

Brick and mortar businesses offer several advantages, such as providing face-to-face customer service, instant gratification for shoppers, the ability to physically interact with or try products, and customers can return or exchange items more conveniently.

What challenges do brick and mortar businesses face?

Brick and mortar businesses face challenges such as increased competition from online stores, higher overhead costs associated with maintaining a physical presence, limitations on available inventory, and the need to attract customers to their physical location.

How do brick and mortar businesses adapt to online competition?

To adapt to online competition, brick and mortar businesses may integrate e-commerce into their operations, offer in-store pick-up for online orders, utilize geolocation for targeted marketing, and focus on creating unique in-store experiences that cannot be replicated online.

What strategies can brick and mortar businesses use to attract customers?

Brick and mortar businesses can use various strategies to attract customers, including offering exclusive in-store promotions or events, emphasizing outstanding customer service, investing in visually appealing store designs, and collaborating with online influencers to create buzz around their physical location.

Related Technology Terms

  • Retail Storefront
  • Physical Location
  • Consumer foot traffic
  • In-person customer service
  • Inventory Management

Sources for More Information


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