Pop-Up Retail: Understanding The Value Of Opportunities

ETP blog popup-stores-retail

The impressive growth of pop-up retail can be seen in the fact that it was a zero dollar industry in 2003 but flourished into an 8 billion dollar industry in 2013. Pop-up continues to drive innovation and offer several strategic opportunities thus adding a new dimension to retail.

Some of the strategic opportunities presented by pop-up retail:
1. Retailers can target a niche audience.
2. Chance to experiment with an economic alternative to full-scale retail set-up.
3. Allow retailers to test new products, concepts, and markets.
4. Derive valuable consumer insights economically and with minimum inventory.
5. Retailers can create buzz and imprint their products on the customers’ minds.
6. Tap into “massclusivity” and stimulate consumer curiosity with elements of surprise and urgency.
7. Clear old inventory and stock.
8. Aggressively promote merchandise around a finite duration of time such as season, festival or holiday.
9. Create a learning center for customer

Retailers have been quick to explore the popup retailing concept:
– In 2003, Target pioneered the pop-up model with a 1,500 sq.ft. store in New York City that for showcasing designer Isaac Mizrahi’s women’s clothing over five weeks.
– Nike created a Runner’s Lounge in Vancouver with free massages, snacks, drinks, and the opportunity to test their new line of shoes designed exclusively for running.
– Collaborating with global brands – Adidas, Levi’s and Sony Ericsson, MTV promoted limited edition apparel and high-tech electronics by setting up pop-up stores in German cities for a week at a time.
– Exploring the idea of a traveling pop-up store, Gap fashioned a school bus with 60’s themed apparel and accessories.
– E-commerce retailer, Bluefly.com opened a brick-and-mortar store in New York to unload slow-moving stock in a temporary boutique.

To set-up a successfully running pop-up store or site, retailers need to employ the right pop-up technology. Web-based point-of-sale (POS) and mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) integrated with customer data and inventory management tools using the right retail software will enable the pop-up store staff or self-serve kiosks to answer customer queries and access real-time information about product availability and provide superior customer experience. Retailers must ensure strong security measures at the pop-up locations for protecting transaction data going across the network while providing connectivity.

Are Pop-Up Stores Adding A New Dimension To Retail?

According to Pop Up Republic, a marketing support company that caters exclusively to pop-up shops, “a pop-up store, also referred to as ‘flash retail’, is a shop, a restaurant, a collection of shops, or an event that opens quickly in a temporary location, often occupying abandoned storefronts and vacant mall spaces and is intended to operate for a short period of time.”

The beginning of the 21st century saw the first pop-up stores emerge across the U.S. and in Europe. The last few years have witnessed a rash of pop-up stores as they are perceived to be inexpensive alternatives than year-round rentals that can generate a lot of retail buzz for brands when required. For example, they are often strategically placed during the holiday season for shoppers or put up just in time for the launch of a major product.

The latest versions of pop-up stores are accompanied with more elaborate displays, high-end signage, sophisticated POS systems, latest mobile commerce functionalities, and more interactive and engaging experiences that nurture useful customer-retailer conversations. Retailers who understand that consumers rush to and embrace the various kinds of pop-up spaces, have come to view pop-ups as a strategically innovative and legitimate channel of connecting with their customers.

Today, retail in-store customers can browse through comparative pricing data right from their mobile devices. Whether the consumers are walking into a retail store to buy a product after carefully researching about it online, also known as “webrooming”, or whether they are looking at products in the store with the intention of buying it online, also known as “showrooming”, shopping is evolving at a rapid pace.

Pop-ups are the perfect avenue for online stores to make flash appearances and provide a look and feel of their products to shoppers and if done properly, have them become intrigued enough to buy them online.  A brick-and-mortar retailer can set up a pop-up for showcasing or launching a new product with minimum inventory.

The line between the online and offline world is blurring at a swift pace and the retail industry needs to keep up with the evolving shopping habits of the consumers. Pop-up retail will prove to be a catalyst in this direction.

The impressive growth of pop-up retail can be seen in the fact that it was a zero dollar industry in 2003 but flourished into an 8 billion dollar industry in 2013. Pop-up continues to drive innovation and offer several key opportunities thus adding a new dimension to retail.