Pop-Up Stores: Strategy Essentials for Retailers

“Pop-up” stores are short-lived commercial spaces that are purposed for making a direct impact on potential consumers or brands that will also appear in pop-up stores.

This kind of establishment is not limited to exclusive markets, such as fashion or VIP products. The biggest commercial brands take advantage of the pop-up stores to improve the notoriety of the brand, raise sales and appoint new markets.

In many cases, they take advantage of brands to try out formats they have not tried before.

For example, a British retail chain of watches started with a pop-up store in London before signing a permanent lease and opened more stores in London’s Regent Street and SoHo in New York.

The pop-up stores are used periodically for showcasing new products. For example, the DSW shoe chain debuted its range of custom 3D printed shoes at emerging locations in New York and San Francisco, which allow visitors to really see their new shoes on virtual testers.

Google is also experimenting “offline” with a new space in New York’s Soho. Even though buyers can’t purchase anything from the pop-up made by Google, the store offers the chance to test the brand’s new hardware.

A Format in Evolution

When pop-ups entered the scene, critics thought it could pose a threat to traditional store chains and businesses. In the end, it was proven that this was not the case and that the two concepts complimented each other.

For example, the British Hunter, known for their colorful cookies, established a pop-up store in London’s Picadilly Circus, a few feet away from their “flagship” store in Regent Street. This location was principally a “Satellite” that directed customers to the main store and also increased the awareness of the brand.

In other places, the brands were taking advantage of the pop-up to directly impact products to their target market, as well as keeping them up-to-date on what’s new.

The Canadian fashion chain Kit and Ace collaborated with luxury hotel chains for the Carry-on, which offered guests and local residents the opportunity to purchase a selection of brand clothing and travel accessories.

Essentially, the initiative also presented an online version, offering digital shoppers access to guides of the city from local “influencers,” as well as recommendations of the product.

Lately we are seeing pop-ups used as a key part of a multi-channel marketing plan, brands are realizing that they need to let live on equal terms to the digital and the physical. If someone has a good brand experience in the real world, then they will shop online too.

New opportunities for bigger brands

Inside retail’s modern strategy, pop-ups are used with frequency to attract customers in a unique way, like Remy Martin’s drinks brand, which tours the cities of the United States and allows visitors to make their own cognac. Brands recognize that a pop-up needs to provide something special. A smaller version of a simple store would never work.

Creating such immersion and interaction experiences can turn casual visitors into loyal, long-term clients.

On the other hand, to companies that offer seasonal products and services, pop-ups offer great benefits. For example, Magnum ice cream has had success with its pop-up store in London, which has allowed them to maximize their brand awareness in mid-summer.

Are pop-up stores for every brand?

While pop-up stores have transformed the retail strategy of many brands, the brands themselves must carefully think about how the format fits their global approach. For some retailers, because of their concept and the amount of time it takes in launching a Pop-up, it does not work for them.

A key challenge for retailers is to get accurate results in a relatively short time.

When testing for physical stores, retailers have to take a pop-up for at least six months to a year. We usually see that retailers become much more successful the longer they have been in one place, due to factors such as word of mouth and consumer awareness.

However, while pop-ups continue to attract customers, they will remain a key part of a modern selling strategy.

Now that some of the bigger brands are adopting pop-ups, they have improved tremendously in quality and creativity in the last 10 years, and this seems only to be the beginning.