Getting Clicks From Bricks Starbucks delivers a Net strategy with a real twist.
By Dave Pell

(FORTUNE Small Business) – This time around, we return to the three key factors in successful retailing: location, location, and location. On the Web, everything is just a few clicks away. Not so in the terrestrial world, where sticks and stones can break bones, but where clicks and bricks can actually feel quite pleasant.

THE STARBUCK STOPS HERE...For Starbucks, a funny thing happened on the way to a Net strategy. It realized it already had one--its 2,700-plus stores., a site where you can order videos, food, and more--delivered to your door in less than an hour by a friendly bike messenger (slightly less friendly in a severe lightning storm)--will pay Starbucks $150 million over the next five years for branding in the coffeemaker's stores.

Net players like AOL and Yahoo charge dot-coms big fees to reach their mass audiences. Starbucks is doing this with its offline traffic flow, a backflip into the Internet (spotter recommended). will also put video-return boxes inside Starbucks, bringing in more coffee drinkers. That, and a triple espresso, will excite anybody.

For small businesses, this clicks-and-bricks strategy could provide a nice opportunity to score revenues and exposure from the dot-com explosion, even without a Website. High-quality local merchants have a unique and trusted relationship with consumers. If a dot-com solicits you, avoid those taking a shotgun approach (or, for that matter, those approaching with a shotgun), signing up everyone. Better to find your clicks-and-bricks model and go after them. You are the one with the credibility that dot-coms crave. Like Starbucks, though, you need to make sure your online partner delivers.

BRING YOUR OWN B2B...Last month we focused on Internet business-to-business marketplaces. Since then there has been a new trend afoot. (Internet trends are like parking tickets--they come fast, usually get disregarded, and are quickly replaced.) Instead of waiting for a startup company to build a marketplace, many large corporations are opting instead for a BYOB2B strategy. Many big players, in industries from automobiles (Detroit's Big Three) to consumer products (Kraft, Nestle, Procter & Gamble, and others), have decided they can join forces with competitors to develop jointly owned marketplaces. They figure that whatever they lose by sleeping with the enemy they will more than make back in increased efficiencies and dot-com wealth.

Can you do this too? Probably not. What gives large corporations--and my wife--the leverage to create markets is their massive buying power. Still, you may be able to find a way to share resources with a competitor, even without being a market maker. Together, perhaps, you can negotiate better deals with suppliers, share deliveries, or cross-market noncompeting services. Be proactive and drive the process, though, or your competitors could make you crazy. Like make you drive the delivery van.

WHO'S SAYING AAAHH NOW?...Doctors may be losing the upper (or, worse yet, lower) hand with patients because of the Web. Patients now research their maladies long before they put on the paper gown, so a doc's first diagnosis may be the patient's second (or hundredth). Doctors should be aware of all the health Websites and should recommend those that provide the most accurate data. And don't worry, this kind of testing with a mouse is okay.

Dave Pell runs Arba Seed Investment Group. He writes the daily e-mail newsletter Davenetics ( Pell doesn't write about companies in which he invests.