Name given to "old economy" companies with real, physical storefronts, to distinguish them from the "new economy" e-commerce startups with nothing but an online presence.
During the dot com boom, this term was somewhat derisive, but now with the dot com bust upon us, having a physical operation to back up your online business has become attractive. Brick and mortar operations are far from dinosaurs. Some reasons:
- Brand names attached to the traditional company names still have consumer appeal.
- People love to window(s) shop on-line, but they seem reluctant to buy there, especially for "big ticket" items. They'll learn all about their purchase options on the internet, but still go to a physical store to make their purchase.
- The brick and mortar brigade are learning how to play in the online world, having learned by watching the successes and failures of the hotshot young punks that have sprung up around them. The resulting hybrid is called "click and mortar" by the terminally hip.
The battleground has more recently been the financial industry, where the benefits of a physical operation are less apparent. Will "brick and mortar" banks fall to their online cousins? Time will tell.