Consumers spent $360.3 billion online in 2016 and this figure is projected to rise to more than $603.4 billion by 2021. The growing popularity of e-commerce is evident, but this doesn’t mean that consumers are no longer interested in brick and mortar stores. Running both a physical and online store can be costly, especially for small to medium-sized retailers. If you have an e-commerce store, it’s also possible to have an offline presence without the commitment of operating a permanent physical store. More and more brands – from established retail giants to e-commerce companies – are using pop-up shops as a tool to build stronger relationships with their customers and expand their brand.
What is a Pop-Up Shop?
Pop-up stores (also referred to as temporary retail stores) are an effective way to supplement your e-commerce business. It’s predicted that pop-up stores are the future of retail. CBRE, a global commercial real estate firm, estimates that temporary stores will exceed $50 billion for the leasing industry. Pop-up stores appeal to consumers because shoppers are already used to buying items from temporary retail locations. This is because pop-up stores have been around for as long as most of us can remember, starting from the days when children had their lemonade stands.
What are the benefits of a Pop-Up Shop?
Although pop-up stores are temporary in nature, the aim is to leave a lasting impression on your potential customers to encourage them to buy from your business online. Establishing a temporary presence in the real world with a pop-up store is a valuable way to supplement your e-commerce business. Many years ago, household brands like Levi’s, Gucci, and Samsung started to set-up pop-up stores to boost their brands and profits. Follow the lead of the big retailers and take advantage of temporary retail units to complement your online sales. Keep reading to find out how a Pop-up store can supplement your e-commerce business:
1. Boost sales
Done correctly, pop-up stores can increase your sales. An example of the power of the pop-up store supplementing e-commerce revenue is the furniture designer who increased sales by 50% when he opened a temporary retail store for a month in New York.
Most shoppers are aware that pop-up stores won’t be around for a long time, so they’re more likely to make a purchase because of the fear of missing out. Let consumers know that there are some items in your pop-up store that aren’t available anywhere else and when they’re gone, they’re gone. The start and end trading date of your pop-up store must be prominently advertised and displayed to remind people of the limited time and inventory.
Pop-up stores are ideal for those consumers who still prefer to try a physical item before making a payment. Most e-commerce platforms have return policies, but some customers may not want to deal with the perceived inconvenience of returning unsuitable items. The consumer can try on and handle products before they buy in a pop-up store. Just because customers aren’t ready to buy from your pop-up store straight away, doesn’t mean that you’ve lost the sale. Services like Buy Online for Shopify POS allow your customer to try in-store and buy the item online at a later date.
2. Generate brand awareness
Building a brand online takes time and can carry significant costs. Online advertising and search engine optimization can be ongoing expenses. This is where adding in-person interaction to supplement your e-commerce brand-building efforts comes into its own. The famous saying by Maya Angelou about “people will forget what you said, what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” applies to a pop-up store. You can only convey a limited amount of emotion online, but meeting your customers face-to-face adds another dimension to your business.
Consumers are into experiences more than ever. Use your pop-up store to show your customers the heart, emotion and the enthusiasm behind your business. To capitalize on your pop-up store’s brand equity, make sure you encourage visitors to share their experiences via social media. People want to share places that are cool and unique, so remember to add social media shareability aspects into the design phase of your pop-up store. Marc Jacobs designed an experienced-based pop-up store to promote his new fragrance. Instead of buying items for cash, visitors were rewarded with products for sharing the specific hashtag via social media.
3. Test new products
Launching a new product or income stream can be risky. Hiring a market research firm who will do a thorough job is normally reserved for big retailers with deep pockets. Pop-up stores are a cost-effective way to test new offerings before you move full steam ahead in your e-commerce store. It’s reported that a temporary store costs about 80% less than a traditional retail store. A pop-up store may prove to be a cost-effective way to find out first-hand how consumers will react to the new products you’re considering rolling-out in your e-commerce store.
The feedback received in pop-up stores is instant. You’ll have an idea of what customers like and dislike there and then. You’re able to discover valuable opinions by having a simple conversation. In contrast, it can be more challenging to get e-commerce shoppers to spare the time to complete online surveys.
Pop-up stores are also useful for people who are thinking of starting an e-commerce business but aren’t quite sure about what to sell. A temporary store will provide the new business owner with valuable insight as to whether they should continue with the products they had in mind, make tweaks or discard the idea altogether.
4. Educate New Customers
Pop-up stores aren’t only useful for supplementing e-commerce businesses that sell common items. They’re also an excellent way to demonstrate more complicated products to customers. Even if your product isn’t new on the market, customers are still interested in experiencing the product in a live environment. If you sell a complex product online, use a pop-up store to walk your potential customers through its use.
You can advertise your pop-up shop as somewhere that is staffed by experts in your particular field. Your employees should be on hand to answer every possible question, especially if the product you’re selling is technical in nature. Providing a temporary retail space to test technical products isn’t a new concept, as Microsoft adopted this strategy over five years ago to assist customers in understanding and using their tablets.
Pop-up stores supplement your e-commerce tutorials and manuals by giving customers a one-to-one and in-depth experience of using your products. Taking the time to educate shoppers at a pop-up store shows that your business cares about making sure they understand how to use a product and how it benefits them. Setting-up a pop-up store to educate your potential customers is an effective way of making sales without coming across as overly ‘salesy.’
A pop-up store has the potential to be a viable supplement to your e e-commerce business if planned and executed properly. Given the financial, time and resource investment of setting-up and maintaining a temporary retail store, it’s advisable to promote your pop-up store through as many channels as possible.
A temporary retail store can result in positive and permanent benefits for your e-commerce store, namely, better brand awareness and more sales. Although it’s temporary in nature, the impact of a pop-up can be permanent.
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