Many retailers are using pop-up shops to safely test customer demand before investing in a physical store. However, many existing chain retailers enter the fray without a strategy or knowing whether pop-up shops are right for them. The biggest mistake retailers make is thinking that pop-up shops are simply smaller replicas of their standard bricks-and-mortar footprint.
Read on to find out how to create a successful pop-up shop.
Do you need a pop-up shop?
The best business reasons for existing retail chains to open a pop-up shop are:
- To launch a strategically significant new product line
If you are launching products or collaborating with a partner on a new project, a pop-up shop could be for you. Because of the buzz pop-up shops can generate, they are a great venue to showcase the product line and get media impressions.
- To gradually introduce a full-on re-brand of your business
Pop-up shops can be an effective medium to tease the market with your new look. You can surprise (and maybe win back) existing customers, and convince enough new customers to consider you as a retailer of choice.
- To capture an incremental audience via a sizable high-traffic event (e.g. Olympic Games; Fashion Week)
It’s hard to not be enticed by the foot traffic at these types of events, but keep in mind that people aren’t there specifically for you, so your pop-up store will have to work especially hard to grab their attention. For all the money and resources that will go into your pop-up, make sure the event is at least a week long so that you can generate some return.
Some retailers would argue that pop-up shops are a way to test a new location, and this may be true for small, independent retailers looking to branch out. However, most retail chains have real estate teams whose primary job is to effectively assess potential locations for viability, so if you are considering testing a pop-up for this reason, think more about what your real estate team can do for you.
What Makes a Pop-Up Shop Successful?
Aside from the physical requirement to stand out and dazzle with innovative and unique design, structure and fixtures, here are the four keys to success for a pop-up shop:
- It’s interactive and share-able
Pop-up shops are only around for a short time, so you want yours to be talked about and taken viral. Pop-ups are an inexpensive way to test innovative technology like mobile or augmented reality experiences, or test virtual fitting rooms, for example. Your social team should develop a strategy that will encourage visitors to share their experience via Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. A promotional plan that ties together online marketing with in-store interactivity and events is also needed to keep your store at the top of the social waves throughout its life.
- It is in a great location
The most important principle of traditional retail still applies. Your location is only as good as the traffic around it. Engage your real estate team to assess the location for foot traffic and demographics. While some retail is designed to be a destination, pop-ups are not. If your pop-up is part of a larger pop-up market, negotiate for your space within that marketplace wisely to optimize visibility, adjacencies and traffic flow.
- It offers exclusive or limited edition products
The consumer appeal of pop-ups is the notion of “you’ll never see this again”. Work with your key suppliers to negotiate for exclusive or limited edition products –once they’re gone, they’re gone. Consumers will find this sense of urgency exciting and this should drive early traffic to your shop. However, you also don’t want to disappoint visitors and run out after two hours; forecast your inventory and have a merchandising strategy in place to manage the flow of traffic and sales. For example, you could offer one different “hot” product every two hours.
- You have sales projections and have calculated a return on invested capital
Set a goal for how much of a return you can deliver. Pop-up shops are an expensive proposition, and should not be seen strictly as a marketing tactic. They must generate sales. Ensure you have a daily sales forecast planned and track it in real-time so that you can adjust your merchandising and promotions on the fly.
While the concept of pop-up shops is sexy and can deliver incredible PR exposure, they are expensive to execute and not right for every retailer. Make sure to assess its viability, have a plan, set a sales goal and execute to a tee to deliver an exceptional, on-brand pop-up shop experience.