27 Jun 2014

The Power of Pop-up Retail Stores

Temporary retail stores are growing in number, popping up in shopping centres, street corners, events and even airports. These Pop-up stores appear suddenly in an unexpected location and then in a matter of days, weeks or months, just as suddenly disappear. Retailers are realising that setting up a temporary retail site in a short term leased space can be a big boost for brand awareness. They are an excellent marketing tool for your brand if staged in the right way and in the right place. Buyer’s love the excitement Pop-up shops provide and the sense of urgency of a limited event means customers are more tempted to visit and buy.

What’s The Logic Behind Pop-up Stores?

Scott Williams is the founder of www.popUPshopsMelbourne.com.au and owner of Instant Retail who specialise in the design and hire of shopfitting supplies for pop-up shops. At the National Mainstreet Australia Conference last year, he explained the excitement a pop-up store can provide.

“The pop up shops philosophy is ‘here today, gone tomorrow, be quick (and tell your friends)’. The instant word of mouth promotion that social media offers is helping to drive this global phenomenon. The sense of urgency that these temporary spaces offer along with unexpected locations and fit-out, sometimes guest appearances and entertainment, all add to the excitement for the customer.”

Pop-up stores are often used now by fashion brands in Australia. Ellery is an example of an established label who regularly favours this trend. Even Myer has seen the unique advantage a smaller temporary site gives by opening pop-up locations in Melbourne at Southern Cross Station and Bondi Junction in Sydney.

Nike, Sunglasses Hut and Nokia have also chosen to show off their products by use of pop-up shops with the main goal being brand promotion rather than just sales. Setting up a pop-up shop at a high profile event, such as Fashion Week or the Australian Open, can give retailers the chance to get a slice of the action and gain valuable exposure for their brand.

A pop-up also gives the opportunity to engage with potential customers before a new retail store opens to build hype, brand awareness and offer a sneak peak of what’s to come. Japan’s Uni Qlo used this strategy, opening a small temporary space in Melbourne’s Swanston Street before its opening at Emporium later in the year.

What Are The Benefits of This Strategy

Running a pop-up store delivers many benefits such as:

  • Offering a good way to test if a new location will work before committing to a long term lease.
  • Providing a way to potentially capitalise on sales at busy times of the year and boost revenue.
  • Being a great tool to shift end-of-season stock or can be used as an ‘outlet store’ to sell product slightly cheaper than your normal store.
  • Building brand awareness in a new location and gaining publicity through social media.

Graham Charlton, editor in chief of the Econsultancy blog advises, “Pop-ups can generate heaps of buzz from the crowd and the media. It’s the nature of the beast: the fact that they’re here today and (possibly) gone tomorrow means that there’s a short window of opportunity for people to talk about what you’re doing. By interacting with shoppers face-to-face you encourage them to talk about it to their friends and colleagues, and spread the noise via Twitter/Facebook etc. It makes for rapid – and relatively controlled – viral activity.”

How You Can Get Started

Look around for shopping centres and high traffic areas with vacant spaces and approach them for a casual leasing arrangement – landlords love them. They benefit by avoiding vacancy and will often welcome a short term lease. Be creative though in planning locations – Brian Walker, Founder & CEO of The Retail Doctor Group tells StartupSmart, “A pop-up shop should appear where you wouldn’t expect it to appear… It doesn’t limit itself to classic retail thoroughfares. It’s often more effective when it’s a little quirky. The whole thing about a pop-up store, as the name implies, it that it’s visually appealing and represents the brand in a different way.”

Make sure you do the minimum amount of fit out to reduce your setup cost but be sure to give buyers the right impression of your brand. It also pays to be unique…“If they are done well, pop-up shops can be an exciting extension of a retailer’s brand. They’ve got to be quite artistic [in order to be effective]… They’re not there for a long time but for a good time,” says Walker.

Lastly the pop-up should be professional and offer a high level of customer service. It pays to use a cloud-based inventory and POS system so you will have the confidence and flexibility necessary to run temporary locations efficiently with all data transferred in real-time.

Visit www.retailexpress.com.au or call 1300 732 618

Aaron Blackman is the CEO of Retail Express. Follow Aaron on Google+