Shopping today is not what it was even a year ago as consumers expect an interactive, round-the-clock experience with retailers. A retailer’s challenge now is in creating a 3D environment where a consumer can shop as well as build a personal connection to the brand. Whether through Kindle’s Mayday button or the latest social media phenomenon, retailers are searching for ways to bring their brand to life with consumers.
One of the vehicles used to solve this problem is the use of the newly designed pop up shops.
Historically, pop up shops were a logical solution for brands featuring products with a short shelf life while gaining visibility at the right time and place. Pop ups were used to create interest, exposure and engage customers in a unique way differing from traditional brick and mortar.
As with any life cycle, these temporary shopping locations went through a transformative period in the past few years and now serve many diverse purposes. No longer relegated to one-time use merchandise, brands are recognizing the inherent value in temporary locations and shoppers are responding. Pop ups provide an enriched playground to gain customer insights, reach new audiences, move inventory, enhance brand visibility, test new markets and improve market knowledge with minimal commitment and reduced risk.
Pop-up shops today are capable of bridging the gap between traditional retail and digital etail, and communicate the brand story. Both brick and mortar and etailers are looking for a physical space to attract crowds, take advantage of existing foot traffic, expand brand presence and a build connection with consumers. Pop ups can be used to establish a brand story through interactive technology and one-to-one assistance, which also drives shoppers to share and explore products online and through social media after their visit.
Even brands as authoritative as Google are using pop-up shops for testing before fully investing. While Google has refocused much of its attention around retail product development, it still lacks face-to-face interaction with consumers. While the brand could easily utilize any retail space in the world, it has recently chosen to experiment with the pop up concept while promoting the Nexus 7, Chromecast and Chromebooks before the 2013 holiday season. These temporary locations, dubbed Winter Wonderland Labs, offer experiential engagement. Google’s products do not necessarily need aggressive publicity but users are unaccustomed to engaging with the brand outside of their own homes, and these temporary retail experiences offer innovative engagement that not only has the potential of increasing product awareness, but also the potential of redefining consumer ideas about one of the biggest companies in the world.
As I mentioned in my previous post, Sweaty Betty is one brand who utilized pop ups to establish relationships with foreign customers as they embarked on a new market. Their pop-up experience resonated so well with shoppers that the UK brand was inspired to open a set of permanent doors in New York.
Kate Spade is another brand who utilizes pop-up shops to their full extent. The well-known brand boasts permanent retail locations throughout the world; however a temporary shop offers the brand the freedom to experiment with new formats while launching new collaborations and product lines. Their recent interactive window with eBay helped ignite excitement around the company’s new endeavor, Kate Spade Saturday. This window, although novel to passersby on New York’s crowded streets this past summer, may have also presented the window into the future of pop-ups and retail as a whole. Taking the form of a giant tablet, this window allowed interested shoppers to tap on products to read reviews, see outfit combinations and even order using their PayPal account for same day delivery all without the brand having to rack up the costs of maintaining on-site inventory and staff.
As evidenced by recent brand forays into the world of temporary shops, pop ups will continue to be an essential component to both on and offline retail as they allow brands the freedom to experiment with their product, sales plan and audience interactions.
In these changing times, shopping vehicles will improve to provide a comprehensive role that will only benefit the consumer by blurring the lines of offline and online through a different and more personal experience.