Pop-Up Retail and Future of Retail– Fueling a New Customer Experience: Bridging Online, Offline Gaps…

Pop-Up retail is a short-time duration retail store, which ‘pop-up’ one day and is gone the next… It’s a temporary shop, stall, or brand experience used to sell goods and services for a limited period of time… Pop-up retailing, also known as– flash, ephemeral, hit-n-run, guerrilla retailing… was coined because these stores seem to ‘pop-up’ out of nowhere and gone within a few days…

Pop-ups are perfect deployments for making ‘flash’ appearances to engage customers face-to-face for online retailers… and when done properly customers can be intrigued to follow the retailer online…

So, regardless of where you fall on the spectrum when it comes to selling, e.g.; exclusively online, or in-store, or somewhere in the middle with a mix of sales channels… pop-up is the perfect opportunity to try something different to sell products and publicize your brand…

The concept of pop-up stores was first inspired by small-scale retailers that sprung up to cater to seasonal demand for holidays, such as; Halloween, Christmas, Easter, July 4th… These outlets are an exciting change to the typical homogenous, big-brand, impersonal online and retail mall shopping experiences that are so common…

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According to research; the pop-up retail industry is about $50 billion in sales, and the following categories are the biggest players in the pop-up market; farmers markets– $8 billion, flea markets– $30 billion, food trucks– $1 billion, yard sales– $1 billion, and pop-up stores– $10 billion… Also in a survey, when respondents were asked to name top reasons to shop or visit a pop-up store they cited; ‘seasonal products’– 61%, ranked next was ‘finding unique services/products’– 39%, then ‘shop locally’– 36%, ‘great prices’– 34%, ‘convenience’– 33%, and ‘fun experience’– 30%… an online directory features over 7,000 ‘pop-ups’ in 2014 alone and expecting that number to explode in 2015…

Trends in Pop-up Retail: Retailers and other enterprises are beginning to view a ‘pop-up’ strategy as a legitimate and innovative way for connecting to customers and extending their brands. The latest iterations of pop-up reveals– more elaborate displays, high-end signage, sophisticated POS, mobile commerce capabilities, and interactive experiences that enable useful conversations with customers…

Pop-ups are driving innovation in the retail space with various implementations that serve as unique platforms for both– the well established brands and daring new start-ups… There are several key opportunities that pop-up affords retailers:

  • Target a niche audience…
  • Test new products, markets, concepts…
  • Generate buzz, create memorable, visual experience…
  • Economic alternative to full-scale retail set-up…
  • Sell-off old inventory…
  • Market merchandise around a finite period of time, season, holiday…
  • Create a learning center for customers…

In the article Retailing in a Pop-Up World by Doug Stephens writes: The concept of pop-up retail has been around for more than a decade… ‘Vacant’, a company in Los Angeles is credited with pioneering the concept of pop-up shops in North America, after seeing similar concepts in Tokyo… They observed that Japanese consumers would sometimes line-up for hours to buy limited edition goods. Once stock was sold out, the store would simply close and move-on… 

This led ‘Vacant’ to innovate the current model for pop-up, whereby stores would open for a defined period and then simply close, only to pop-up later in a different location… Pop-up shops, while intriguing, are regarded largely as novelty but that mindset is changing… The traditional retail industry is dominated by the precept that stores are permanent establishments with long-term property leases, good locations, trusted consumer traffic levels… But, the economic recession and changing consumer buying behavior is changing this well established reality… and bringing new opportunities for pop-up retail…

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Traditionally, landlords and property owners would only consider long-term property leases but they are now entertaining the unthinkable; short-term agreements for their space, paving the way for host of temporary retail installations; from Los Angeles to the mean streets of New York, the economic meltdown spurred a brilliant series of unique and daring pop-up concepts…

Today, pop-up is a legitimate channel strategy, and everyone from Walmart to Hermes has turned to this temporary format to reach consumers where their full-line stores couldn’t… Technology is also fueling more creative approaches to pop-up… Reality applications are transforming inanimate spaces into engaging consumer buying portals– they are enabling trips through the looking-glass…

In the article What is a Pop-Up Shop? by Erik Eliason writes: Whether you hear temporary retail, flash retailing, pop-up store, or pop-up shop, it’s all one and the same. Pop-up shops are taking over the retail world, and rethinking traditional brick-and-mortar and big-box stores, but what exactly is a shop that pops-up? Sighted as early as the 1990s in large urban cities, such as; Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, New York City…

Pop-up shops and pop-up retail are temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind… That’s right, just about every consumer product is sold via a pop-up shop… from art, to fashion, to tech gadgets, to food… pop-ups are exciting because they create short-term stores that are just about as creative as they are engaging…

What are the demographics of a pop-up shop? Consider: Duration; Typically 1 day to 3 months… Location; High foot traffic areas, such as; city centers, malls, busy streets… Price; Much lower than a traditional store; typically paid upfront… Use; Sell products, usually during holidays or special events, launch new products, move inventory, test ideas or locations, increase ‘brand’ awareness…

What are the benefits of a pop-up shop? Consider: Connect with customers; The pop-up retail format enables a personal connection with customers by building a face-to-face relationships… Sell more; About 95% of all purchases are still completed offline (vs. online), and pop-ups provides an opportunity to take advantage of the retail channel… Build awareness; The pop-up generate much excitement for both the consumers and the media, they build brand awareness with ‘online retailers’ going offline via the pop-up… Cheaper; Launching a pop-up shop is 80% cheaper than a traditional retail store… Test new markets; Much easier to enter new markets, launch new products, publicize brands.

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In the article Why Pop-Up Shops May Be The Future Of Retail by Ivan Widjaya writes: The future is looking rosy for pop-up shops, and here’s why:

  • Cheap Competitive: There is no denying that pop-up shops have the financial edge in the competitive retail market place, as the overheads can be incredibly low. Empty shops are not good for the community or landlords, thus many landlords are being encouraged to rent shop space for short periods of time, and at competitive rates…
  • Create Experience: If you think that pop-up shops are just about flinging open the doors and waiting for the masses to arrive, think again. The concept has slightly more class than that… Pop-up shops are an experience, as well as, a great selling vehicle to shift surplus stock, warehouse clearance… Telling consumers that you are only going to be in town for ‘X’ number of days, weeks… is one way of getting much attention…
  • Mobile: The beauty of the pop-up store is the fact that it can also be nomadic… So, e.g.; if you have always wanted to try your brand in a big city, fancy mall, outlying areas… then a pop-up strategy provides that opportunity… The mobility of the pop-up shop is something that many established businesses find very attractive…
  • Versatile: The mobility of the pop-up shop is one facet of a business model that is essentially versatile beyond the wildest dreams of retailers only a few years ago… However, this versatility moves beyond that of being able to move from town to city and back again. The nature of the pop-up is such that you can customize it for specific locations or consumer types spend… and many brands have created a whole sub-brand, tagged on to their main image using the pop-up experience…
  • Creative: And herein lies the secret of success of the pop-up– the creative nature of a business model with which you can be as different, unique, and creative as you want… How consumers shop is changing and business needs to morph, and the pop-up experience is a valuable tool for engaging consumers, and experimenting with new markets…

Pop-Up, Pop-Out, Pop-On… How far and how fast can the pop-up concept be pushed? New York is seeing its fair share of innovative pop-ups, with Forever 21 (6-month lease testing out 5th Avenue), The Limited (3,400 sq. ft. store in Soho), and Procter & Gamble (4,000 sq. ft ‘free’ store to build brand loyalty for its products on 57th Street) all launching pop-ups in Manhattan. Other notable pop-ups include; Disney’s Tron–Legacy store in Culver City, CA created to take advantage of the movie’s opening, and American Red Cross stores in Phoenix and Las Vegas, where gift buyers could make donations for disaster relief… pop 41Vj8x-qmSL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Pop-up stores give brands the opportunity to test a new marketing program with a specific, confined retail space and launch period… Due to its temporary nature, retailers are less risk averse and are encouraged to inject more creativity into creating a refreshing and innovative brand experience for consumers…

The pop-up’s unpredictable– ‘here-today-and-gone-tomorrow’– concept helps to create a sense of excitement and urgency for consumers to visit the store… Pop-ups will never replace permanent stores or online retailers, but they are an important complement to retailer’s business strategy, and/or promoting ‘brand’ awareness…