Smart marketers have always defined their target market and built a profile of their target customer to focus efforts during the entire marketing process. But there is an interesting trend among savvy merchants. They are not taking the traditional ‘build it and they will come’ approach to their stores—they are using their knowledge of their target customer to go where the customer already is.
Retail Category Consultants recommends that to drive growth, merchants need to test in market rather than in focus groups. This allows merchants to get to market faster and with added flexibility. Taking a trial and error approach to making changes allows more flexibility in getting to a winning solution. To quote Theodore Roosevelt , “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
Merchants like Roots Canada are growing their business through a non-traditional approach that demonstrates that they understand their target consumer and the need to make the shopping experience as painless as possible in order to drive sales.
For example, Roots has a comfortable line of casual weekend clothes including t-shirts, sweatpants and sweatshirts, and understands that cottagers who head north during the summer months may eat en route at the popular burger joint Weber’s on Highway 11, a busy route to cottage country. There is therefore a great overlap between the Weber’s patron and the target Roots Canada customer, but this overlap is seasonal. This means that there are only a few months within a year where traffic warrants a retail location.
Using a slipstream trailer, Roots built an inexpensive mobile, seasonal store which can be moved to another location during the off season. The trailer itself is a store design that reflects both the merchandise and the location. The unit is perfect for holding inventory, and the merchandise offered does not necessitate a change room. With a large deck out front, there is ample space for attractive merchandising and easy shopping while waiting for your order.
Contrast this with the pop-up execution by Lululemon in Muskoka, Canada. Lululemon’s location is difficult to find and sits in a low traffic location just outside Minett, Ontario at the back of a Marriott Resort. While the area is full of potential Lululemon customers, it is unlikely that their target customers will find the store.
Lululemon’s pop-up store was built from 2 rail cars. While attractively designed, we found broken fixtures suggesting that they were not well designed for transport—a key feature of successful pop-up shops. The lack of inventory also suggested that they were not expecting to sell very much.
Consider the differences in Roots’ and Lululemon’s execution. When you build your own pop-up shop, use these three tips to help you ensure success:
1. Know your customers and where they are likely to be found.
Do the research before you move in. Where are your customers likely to be throughout the year? Instead of viewing seasonality as a challenge, see it as an opportunity. At the same time, a great venue does not mean a great location. Make sure you are positioned optimally on the venue to ensure your potential customers can find you. That will maximize your impact.
2. Design your pop-up to be easy to shop and share.
Design a pop-up shop that makes shopping seamless. Keep the design simple and intuitive: what technology and features does your shop need to have to aid the journey from browsing to checkout? Think about ways you can encourage customers visiting your store to share their experience with their networks via social media. Train your employees to use the technology features to educate customers and enhance the shopping experience.
3. Plan to have enough inventory to satisfy your customers.
Smart merchants always plan ahead so they don’t risk disappointing customers when they can’t satisfy demand. Make sure that your store design has space for inventory based on sales projections and that your fulfilment processes are designed to keep the store fresh and stocked.
Pop-up shops are great vehicles for introducing new products to your target customers or encouraging incremental purchases from loyal customers as long as your execution is spot on. Understanding your customers is just the start of the journey: you need to have the store design, inventory, and customer experience to truly make an impact.