How Brick and Mortar and Ecommerce Stores Differ in Holiday Marketing Plans

As the holiday season approaches, it's common for all stores, whether online or brick and mortar, to put together detailed marketing plans in attempts to bring in more sales.

It's interesting to note that brick and mortar sales are still significantly stronger than ecommerce sales, particularly during the holiday season, making it clear that these offline shops are here to stay due to various reasons.

However, ecommerce stores are also sticking around for the foreseeable future, and we can assume that we won't see them going away for years to come. Therefore, it's important to look at some of the differences between brick and mortar and online stores, considering some marketing techniques may work for one better than it would for the other, particularly during the holiday season.

Therefore, continue reading to check out what you should focus on when preparing your marketing plan for the crazy holidays.

Brick and Mortar Stores Push Last Minute Sales Like Crazy

One advantage brick and mortar stores have over online shops is that they have the unique ability to continue selling products late into the holiday season. Think about it. If a parent forgets to buy a gift for one of the kids, they have to run to a local store instead of jumping online to buy something. Sure, some of the online stores have overnight delivery, but not many people are willing to pay those high rates for overnight shipping.

Therefore, since the products are available immediately, brick and mortar stores push their marketing campaigns deeper into the holiday season, with coupons, ads and commercials popping up right before Christmas morning, for example.

Ecommerce Stores Need to Start Selling Earlier


Since ecommerce stores are not able to provide immediate access to products, they must structure their marketing plans to start selling earlier in the season. For example, an online electronics store must start sending out emails about promotions in November or early December.

Although this may seem like a pain, it's actually a huge advantage, since you can use that urgency to convince customers that they should start buying right away. It's wise to constantly tell your customers when the last shipping day is before the holidays. That way, you can prompt people to buy instead of abandoning carts and thinking about it later.

Brick and Mortar Stores Use Mobile Platforms to Drive In-Store Sales

One interesting fact is that lots of customers will actually use their mobile devices while shopping at brick and mortar stores. It's troubling for these stores, since they basically have to go up against all of the companies that a person can find online.

However, it's prudent to take a page out of Best Buy's book and use this to your advantage as a brick and mortar store. For example, you can promise to match any price that someone finds on their phone while in the store. That way, the customers are bound to purchase from the brick and mortar store, since they are already there, and they know it's the cheapest price on the market.

Ecommerce Stores Use Brick and Mortar Shops as Showrooms

On the other hand, brick and mortar stores get crushed because customers are more likely to use the stores as personal showrooms to play around with products and see what they look like. Once people find what they like, they can go home and complete research online, or even compare a few of the products they liked at the store. Ultimately, the main goal is to find the cheapest price while having the opportunity to touch the product beforehand.


Ecommerce shops can take advantage of this, by saying that they will also match prices.

Urgency Is Far More Effective for Online Stores

This one is pretty simple, but if you try to convince someone to buy an item quicker online, it's a bit easier. Why? Because if someone sees a commercial saying to come to the store before a certain date, it's harder to convince customers to leave their homes and get in the car. However, an online shop already has people in the store, so an ad on Google or a promotional banner is all you need in order to push urgency.

As an example, you may say that customers get free shipping as long as they buy within then next 24 hours. It doesn't take much to click a button and take advantage of that free shipping.

Upselling is Far More Effective in Brick and Mortar Stores

People are more likely to spend more than they intended when going into a brick and mortar store. This means that online shops need to step up the game in terms of upselling. Physical shops only need to include products near the cash register to convince customers to throw more items in their carts.

However, ecommerce stores require relevant product suggestions, email receipts with upsells and cross-sells, and whatever other upsell methods you can think of.

Brick and Mortar Stores Push Personal Connections, While Online Stores Push Promptness

Training a personable, knowledgeable staff is key when running a brick and mortar store. It's a huge part of marketing and sales during the holiday season. However, people who shop online are more worried about promptness, in that they want quick responses to questions, whether those questions come in through email, phone or live chat.

Online Stores Play Catch-up With Touching the Senses

Let's face it. An ecommerce shop can't beat a brick and mortar store in terms of physicality. As an example, when walking into a shoe store, it's nice to try the shoe on and walk around with it. How do you simulate this with an online shop?


The goal is to go crazy with the visuals. Provide videos, images and even audio clips that represent how your products function. Zoom and rotation features are also nice for giving people a direct look into what your products offer.

In Conclusion

Now that you've had a chance to see the differences between online and brick and mortar shop marketing, let us know in the comments section how you've found it easier to market your online shop during the holidays.

Catalin Zorzini

I'm a web design blogger and started this project after spending a few weeks struggling to find out which is the best ecommerce platform for myself. Check out my current top 10 ecommerce site builders.