Pop up retail, while a relatively new term, isn’t a new concept. The basic idea is that retailers – online and brick and mortar – put up a temporary location centered around a specific event, a group of merchandise they need to move, new product line, or even a restaurant.
These temporary locations can be as mundane as a mall storefront or as unique as a refitted bus. It’s only limited by the imagination of the business owner.
There are several ways to implement and execute a pop-up location for your business as well as both pros and cons to consider.
Get Real Time Interaction with Your Product
One of the big challenges that many online-only businesses face is that there is no physical interaction with the product.
While it’s important have top notch images that highlight the product and the brand, if you’re selling something like high-end leather goods – where the feel and smell of the product is important to the buying experience, then it might be important to get in front of physical customers that can give you both immediate feedback and important social proof.
Pop up stores work well in this case to reinforce brand image and to get valuable feedback about your product.
Create Buzz Around Your Product
Another good reason to do a limited time pop up store in a physical location is to create buzz around your product.
If you have a product that is growing in popularity, then you can create a buzz around it by offering it in an exclusive variant for a limited time in a physical location. If you feature buyers of this product on social media, you can amplify the buzz significantly.
This strategy can gain your brand more exposure if executed well.
Clearance Out Old Merchandise
If you have a bunch of merchandise sitting around in your warehouse then you can use a pop up store to move it quickly. Online luxury retailer Bluefly.com used this technique in NYC with a temporary boutique.
Consider fairs or festivals for this type of clearance activity. People are often looking to buy and looking for deals and the audience is built in.
There are several challenges to setting up a pop up store that you need to consider if you are going to execute one successfully.
Physical locations require staff in ways that online stores don’t. You have to either be the staff or have adequate staffing to makes sure you’re serving your customers well. Staffing costs payroll dollars, but not having enough staff can mean lost sales. So it’s important to have the right amount of staffing.
What your store needs in terms of technology will vary depending on the duration for your pop up. At the very least, you will need a way to take credit cards in your physical location as well as a secure point of service system to act as a register for cash transactions.
Temporarily you can use a wireless network and a credit card reader that attaches to a phone or tablet, but if you are a longer term pop up you’ll want a router, a private and public wi-fi network, and maybe a security camera.
If you’re an online merchant you can get away with keeping your merchandise on warehouse shelving, in a closet, or in a garage. In a physical location you’ll need displays to attractively merchandise your product selection.
Try not to spend too much money on premium displays until after you get your feet wet and decide if you’ll do more pop up shops going forward.
To Run a Pop Up Store or Not – The Bottom Line
When considering whether or not to set up a pop up shop, it’s a good idea to decide if your pop up venture could be a bigger boost to your bottom line than refining your online marketing efforts. If this is not the case, your time may be better spent on online marketing.
If you do decide to do a pop up shop, be sure to integrate it into your overall marketing platform and not treat it as a stand-alone event. Use it to boost your brand awareness in every possible platform on the internet.
Pop up shops can be a viable strategy for online business owners when approached with thoughtfulness and consideration.