We often associate the summer with the sporting action we’re able to enjoy. Whether it’s the tennis action from Wimbledon, the Commonwealth Games, or the Women’s Euro 2022 football championships. But this year, the fiercest competition is taking place in retail. With gas shortages, rising energy prices and inflation, we’re in the midst of what is the toughest retail market we’ve seen in a generation. Stores are going toe to toe to win business from cautious spenders.
So, how are retailers supposed to thrive when supply chains are tighter than they have ever been and the rising cost of living is squeezing everyone’s budget? The answer is not to give up. If shoppers are being selective in the way they choose stores this summer, then let’s find creative ways to reach them. That’s where pop-up shops come in. These temporary outlets appear on the high street, or in other suitable locations, overnight and they combine a sense of fun and spontaneity with eye-catching promotions and retail displays. They are an experience.
And they work. A recent survey by Google found that, of the brands that had experimented with pop-up shops, 46% reported an increase in sales, a 51% rise in market visibility, 66% greater brand awareness and a 46% spike in social-media engagement.
So, how do you get started with pop-up retail experiences?
People love great experiences, so give them one
Never mind what Kevin Costner said. If all you do is build it, they won’t come. You have to make it great. You have to make it an experience. And it must be memorable. Take, for instance, the UK online florist Bloom and Wild. It recently made its first foray into the high street, opening pop-up stores in London, Bristol and Edinburgh.
Each store carried a wide selection of bright, beautiful and eye-catching plants and flowers. Some of these sold for as little as £2. And in every store, there was a team of experts on hand to chat with the customers about everything from plant care to choosing the perfect floral arrangement. Customers got the chance to have a sneak peak at forthcoming bouquets, soon to be available on the retailer’s subscription service. And there was a chance to win a year’s worth of flowers.
This was a textbook case of how to do pop-ups well. It combined great face-to-face interactions, with an environment that brings the brand to life, fantastic promotions and an immersive customer experience. In a recent Zendesk survey, 75% of people said they would spend more after a good customer experience, so let’s give them one.
Go omnichannel: connect the online and the offline space
Sick of hearing that e-commerce is the future? Fear not. We’re not going to tell you that, at least not on its own. The future is omnichannel. A recent study carried out in the US, found that omnichannel customers spend 20% more than single-channel customers.
To do omnichannel the right way, you must ensure that online and offline spaces work together seamlessly. This can include ensuring that sales staff are available at every moment of the customer journey — just like they are online, thanks to technology such as chatbots — or ordering products online and being able to collect them from a pop-up shop.
No matter how exciting the show they put on for the public, the staff at the pop-up shop must be seamlessly connected to your customer-experience platforms. Just like other customer-service staff, they should have the data and the insights they need to deliver an outstanding experience always at their fingertips.
Don’t neglect customer data
Pop-up shops aren’t just a great way to take your brand out into the real world. They’re also fantastic for drawing new customers to your brand. But for that to work, you must capture their data and use your initial encounter at the pop-up shop to build a longer-term relationship. As long as you do the necessary due diligence and follow relevant data processing laws, you can use the data you capture to keep in touch, send personalised offers, or to tailor your customer support.
It’s hard to exaggerate the impact this kind of data-driven experience can have. One major brand recently increased its number of contactable customers by 174%, just by improving its high-street data collection and using this to personalise its communications.
For retailers, developing pop-up stores — if they do it the right way — is an efficient way to build a long-lasting relationship with their customers. Pop-up stores provide fun, interactive and seamless experiences, as well as allow them to build personalised relationships as the basis for future interactions.