12 Dec Pop-Up Shops—Should Your Online Business Consider One?
You already have a successful online business, and you’ve been considering opening a retail location. But the costs of opening a brick-and-mortar store quickly add up—paying rent, hiring staff, ordering in-store stock . . . and there’s always the risk that your new business venture won’t go as well as you hope. For business owners looking to expand to new markets without an enormous financial commitment, a pop-up shop might be the solution.
Pop-up shops are having an “on-trend” moment right now, but don’t be fooled. These temporary storefronts have been around for a long time. That Spirit Halloween that seems to manifest overnight in your local strip mall every August? That’s a pop-up shop. Taking your kids to the mall to have their picture taken with Santa? That’s a pop-up shop too. But this business model has evolved beyond its kitschy roots. Thou Mayest Coffee Roasters has found success with a pop-up shop turned long-term retail location in the form of Café Equinox, a small coffeeshop inside Family Tree Nursery. E-commerce giants, including IKEA, Blue Apron, Casper, and Spotify, are capitalizing on the appeal of pop-up shops as well. Should your business consider doing the same?
Why are pop-up shops growing in popularity?
In a recent JLL survey, 40% of U.S. consumers stated that they would be more likely to buy from an online brand with a convenient retail location. And a massive 74% of Americans prioritize experiences over products. These conditions favor a pop-up economy, where interactive, personalized experiences are combined with the convenience offered by online D2C retail brands. In short, younger generations aren’t killing retail. They’re just changing it.
What are the benefits of a pop-up shop for my online business?
Test out a brick-and-mortar location. Consumers are increasingly diversifying how they shop. It’s becoming more common to browse on one channel and buy on another. For example, consumers might look through similar products, read reviews, and compare pricing online, but many of them still prefer to buy in-store. E-commerce business owners that want to engage these consumers should consider a pop-up storefront as a cost-effective way to experiment with the traditional retail business model. Pop-up shops are roughly 80% less expensive than traditional brick-and-mortar locations.
Build brand awareness. A pop-up shop isn’t just a way to increase revenue. It’s a way to build relationships. 43% of consumers stated they would spend more with a retailer offering a meaningful in-store experience. A physical storefront adds a human element to your brand, and the compact locale provides the chance to interact with individual customers. This can be especially useful for small businesses looking to build a large, loyal customer base.
Home décor retailer, West Elm, established their popular LOCAL program for just this reason. Artisans can apply to appear at one of West Elm’s 90 retail locations as a pop-up vendor. This gives them a chance to increase visibility and generates buzz for West Elm as well.
Capitalize on the allure of exclusivity. You’re thinking of buying a product, but your mind’s not 100% made up. Now, what if you knew that product would be sold out next week? The pop-up business model introduces a sense of urgency that encourages consumers to buy and buy fast. These storefronts are temporary, and that allows you to capitalize on the natural fear most humans have of “missing out.” With a pop-up storefront, your business is offering more than a product. It’s offering a limited experience, whether that’s an exclusive product line, the chance to meet the company’s founder, or something else entirely.
I’m interested. How do I get started?
1. Plan the experience. Remember, a pop-up shop is about more than just moving inventory. It’s about the experience. Consider the 5 senses and how you can engage them while promoting your brand and products. Here are 10 successful pop-up shops to inspire you.
2. Find a space. Pop-up shops can be found just about anywhere–in malls, at fairs and markets, and within other businesses. Look for a location that receives a lot of foot traffic. Before securing the space, get your business license, and ask whether any permits or insurance are required, or if they come with the space. If there’s a local business you know you’d like to partner with, consider approaching them in person. Otherwise, there are a number of services dedicated to helping businesses find spaces for pop-up shops, including Storefront, Peerspace, and Go-PopUp.
3. Don’t forget the details! You’ve planned the experience, you’ve got your space, and now comes inventory, staff, furniture, and everything else you’ll need to execute your plan. Furniture rental businesses like Ultrapom will help you create an eye-catching pop-up space without investing in expensive pieces long-term. Next, consider how your pop-up store will accept payment. Your goal isn’t just to move inventory. It’s to build relationships, so a point of sale (POS) system that can collect payment and data will help you capitalize on your pop-up shop’s success long after you’ve moved on to your next venture. An all-in-one system like the Clover Flex allows you to accept magstripe, chip card, and NFC payments, manage your customer list, and track sales, refunds, and inventory.
4. Generate buzz. In the weeks leading up to your pop-up shop, focus on building as much anticipation as possible. Use all the tools at your disposal—social media, mailing lists, press releases, word-of-mouth . . . Take a look at Storefront Magazine’s guide to promoting your pop-up event on social media for more details.
5. Don’t lose momentum. Was your end goal to have one pop-up event and call it quits? Probably not. As you transition back to normal business, use the momentum from your pop-up shop to promote future success. Post-event marketing efforts should remind visitors what made your pop-up so memorable and either drive traffic to your site or build buzz for your next
Consumers have made it clear they want to interact with the brands they love, both online and in-person. Pop-up shops allow your business to fulfill that want. Their popularity has shown us there’s still a place for traditional brick-and mortar stores in the retail landscape. In fact, the in-store experience may be more important than ever, acting in tandem with its digital counterpart.
If your e-commerce business is ready to test out a traditional retail model for a pop-up storefront, please reach out to us. We’ll custom tailor a convenient, safe, and affordable solution that will help you maximize ROI and foster success post-event.
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