Brick and Mortar

What Does Brick and Mortar Mean?

Brick and mortar (B&M) refers to businesses that are bound to a physical space, like a specific building that customers go to in order to buy products. In the 1990s, people started referring to traditional businesses as brick-and-mortar businesses to distinguish them from pure e-commerce sites like Amazon and the hybrid click-and-mortar businesses that emerged as some traditional businesses opened up Web operations. During the Internet boom, many pundits believed that brick-and-mortar stores would be replaced by online shopping portals.

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Techopedia Explains Brick and Mortar

Brick-and-mortar stores are still a large part of the retail world. Although some types of brick-and-mortar stores, such as bookstores, have felt the squeeze of online competition, there are still many others that have seen little to no effect from the Web. So far, shopping online has been unable to live up to the sensation of holding the clothing in our hands or sitting on different couches in a showroom. That said, most brick-and-mortar stores do have an online presence. This may be a complementary e-commerce platform or a simple Web page to tell customers how to get to the store and when it is open.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.