Why "Click & Mortar"?

February 27, 2008

As I have discussed in an earlier entry, the LadyBug Shop is what is called a “click & mortar” business. This means that we sell both via the Internet (the “click” part) and we have a store that sells to customers who shop in our physical store in downtown Milford, Delaware. I expect that if we hired an outside consultant to study our business and tell us what we should do to increase our profits, he would say “Get rid of the store and focus on the Internet sales”.

It is true that the bulk of our sales are made over the Internet and shipped to customers we will probably never see. And on a cost per dollar of sales basis, we get a higher return from our Internet sales than from our store sales. The cost of our website and AdWords advertising is less that the cost of having a show room, print advertising and the time it takes to wait on customers.

Why then don’t we not get rid of our show room, rent out cheaper quarters outside the downtown business area and focus our energies on the Internet business?

There are many reasons. It is nice meeting customers and interacting with them. We like being members of a downtown business community and interacting with other merchants. It is more interesting to work in a small, historic downtown business district that in a warehouse in some industrial park.

But the primary reason we are a “click and mortar” business today is that we started the business in large part to demonstrate what we believed could be a way for small businesses to get started and survive in a downtown that was trying to revitalize itself. We had been active for several years in Downtown Milford, Inc.—a typical small town commercial business district revitalization effort. (Visit www.downtownmilford.org for more information about this great group.) And we had watched for several years as numerous small retail businesses tried and failed to get established in our downtown. It was a chicken and egg situation—there were too few interesting shops in our historic downtown to attract many shoppers, yet without the shoppers we could not attract and sustain new start-up businesses.

We felt the solution was to build a business that could tap the rapidly growing and global body of shoppers who search for special products on the Internet, while at the same time attract shoppers to our shop by our unique, but locally connected products. And by attracting shoppers to out store, we would also be helping to increase the volume of shoppers in our downtown who could patronize other shops that located there. In other words, we see the “click & mortar” business as an important tool for “mainstreet ” revitalization. And that is the primary reason we remain committed to the “click & mortar” model.

For more information on “mainstreet” revitalization efforts across the United States visit www.mainstreet.org. And if you are interested in shopping at other “click & mortar” businesses that are contributing to the revitalization of their downtowns visit www.shopmainstreet.org.

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