3 Tips to Pull Off the Perfect Pop-Up Shop
The pop-up industry was valued at $50 billion in 2016, and it will only continue to grow as more brands discover the strategy as a way to experiment and innovate.
The success of the pop-up shop is no mystery. Brands use pop-ups to dip their toes into new geographic markets without fully committing to a brick-and-mortar location. Given the more flexible nature of rental leases today, brands have more options than ever to come and go quickly while they determine where to expand. By investing in a short-term store location, brands can get a better sense of demand with fewer up-front costs and make smarter long-term decisions.
Beyond reaching new markets, pop-up shops provide opportunities to test new concepts and campaigns. Brands are free to experiment with new services and products, all the while gathering valuable data that can inform a better customer experience. And, of course, a pop-up shop can surprise and delight old customers and attract new ones to unfamiliar brands. By enticing shoppers to come in and try products, brands learn more about what customers want while attracting new ones at the same time.
Pop-ups are thriving for a reason. However, like any emerging channel, there are challenges to perfecting the pop-up. If that’s the direction you’re heading, keep these three tips in mind:
1. Set a clear objective.
There are a lot of good reasons to enter pop-up territory. But before jumping in, you need to define clear intentions for what your pop-up should accomplish. Are you testing new markets before adding a permanent brick-and-mortar store? Trying out a new product line? Generating buzz for your brand? Whatever the goal is, make it clear from the beginning and make sure all decisions made closely align with that goal.
For example, if you’re aiming for heightened publicity, make sure your pop-up is more than just a showroom for products. You need a hook. Free product giveaways, free makeup consultations or other services can draw a crowd. If you’re testing new products, think about your promotion strategy. Maybe you highlight products that can be purchased in the pop-up only, and promote them with a dedicated mobile app.
2. Make your pop-up shop pop.
Pop-ups aren’t just half-executed brick-and-mortar locations, and you can’t treat them as such. Consumers need a reason to visit your pop-up shop, especially when they can order your products online (or if they’ve never interacted with your brand in the first place). Use your pop-up to experiment with exclusive offers and more engaging services.
For example, Cuyana's pop-up personalized products like bags and purses with monograms for customers in-store. Additionally, the retailer provided credits to customers who recycled old clothes at the pop-up location.
Bark & Co’s pop-up allowed dogs to shop for their own toys by using RFID technology to track which items they played with the most. Owners could then purchase the toys their dogs loved directly within the brand’s mobile app. Remember, pop-ups aren’t merely a place to sell products; they also exist to increase engagement with customers in unique and exciting ways.
3. Streamline transactions.
Without a doubt, the success of your pop-up shop relies on your ability to facilitate transactions seamlessly and quickly. Pop-ups that leverage mobile checkout experiences are better equipped to speed up transactions and avoid long lines that often cluster smaller spaces.
But that’s not all. Speed and efficiency are key. You need to adapt quickly to the unique experiences customers crave — be it mobile checkout, apps or interactive in-store displays — and rapidly set them up in multiple cities and locations. This requires an API-first commerce strategy, an approach that allows you to quickly establish connections to back-end systems rather than launching a major implementation project for each pop-up location.
With an API-first strategy, you’ll be able to leverage the same shopping cart across all touchpoints in the customer’s journey and analyze how your shopper has touched your brand — e.g., whether they're a loyal customer or a new one acquired through your pop-up. An omnichannel shopping cart is indispensable in today’s retail environment where brands are no longer able to afford anonymous transactions.
Changes happen fast in retail, and the brands that adapt quickly will remain competitive. The pop-up model is a smart strategy for brands to offer engaging experiences, test new ideas and gather invaluable data — but its effectiveness relies on the technology supporting it. To get the most out of your pop-up shop, first ensure you’ve got a robust and flexible commerce solution as a foundation.
Ana Milevskaja is the senior director at Elastic Path, a digital commerce API for enterprise software.
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