No matter where you’ve located your store, you will have no doubt seen a pop up shop nearby. It could have been a competitor looking to snap up your customers or a retailer who doesn’t pose a direct threat. Either way, they have realised the importance of opening pop up stores. And, if you haven’t yet thought of doing the same, it’s time to reconsider.
Of course, it’s all well and good telling you that you should open such a shop. In truth, telling you won’t make a difference. But showing will. With that in mind, below are a handful of reasons why opening a pop up shop is worth both your time and effort.
1. You can use it as an opportunity to educate your target market
The first reason why it's a good idea to step up and run such a store outside of your primary location is that it gives you the perfect opportunity to educate your market about your products.
That is especially handy if the items you sell appears highly technical or complicated to your customers.
Let’s say, for example, you’re an electronics and appliance retailer and sell virtual reality headsets. In this case, a live demonstration outside of your store could be a great way to sell such a product. After all, it’s usually an expensive item, and you need to find ways to persuade your customers to buy it. A pop up store with the appropriate signage can draw potential customers in to find out more.
Also, as soon as shoppers can get a hands-on feel for such a product, you’ve planted the seed to consider buying it. There are no doubt other barriers to chip at and break down, but you’ve at least begun the conversation.
It’s why in-store promotions work so well - customers can get up close and personal with products. And if they have any questions, there is someone to answer them, thereby educating them further.
You could also use a pop up store to educate current and prospective customers about new products that are about to hit the market. Microsoft did this when they opened 30 such stores to drum up anticipation for their series of touchscreen personal computers - Surface RT.
2. You can use it as an opportunity to go to your customers
While you could describe parts of retailing as passive - you wait for customers to come into your store and then sell to them - a pop up shop gives you an opportunity to take an active approach.
In other words, instead of waiting for a customer to visit you, you can go out and attempt to get their attention. It helps that a pop up store doesn’t have to be fixed to one place either. Depending on your target market and where they hang out, you could invest in a mobile kiosk and go from location to location.
For example, let’s say you sell clothing and you have a range of beachwear and it’s summer. That makes it the perfect opportunity to set up a small pop up on the beachfront and catch the attention of passersby.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a unique location for your pop up, it could work just as well if you set up shop in the parking lot of the shopping mall that houses your main store. You would need to get permission from mall management to set this up. But it’s worth considering.
That’s because you have a double opportunity to engage with potential customers - as they arrive at the mall and when they depart. When they show up, you could hand out pamphlets indicating a small discount when buying in-store for that day. When leaving, you could grab their attention to make an extra, impulse purchase.
3. It can help you to build awareness around your retail brand
When done right, a pop up store is fun and offers a brand experience that shoppers will remember for all the right reasons.
A great example of this is Magnum’s pop up pleasure stores, which has found global success in cities such as New York, London and Singapore. It has also been a hit in Cape Town and Johannesburg as customers had the chance to build ice-creams to their specific liking rather than take what was on offer.
In the case of Magnum, they had a combination of fixed and mobile stores that they set up for a specific period before dismantling them. You could do likewise depending on your objectives.
It's worth noting that a brand such as Magnum has a broad target market and a large marketing budget and so you could view it as a bad example. And especially so if you aren’t a large retailer.
However, let it be known that you don’t need a lot of money to be successful at this. It can also work for you if you’re a small retailer who might not have the same brand equity or market share. You could argue that it could be that much more useful for you to consider this.
With a creative pop up stand, you can build brand awareness and therefore increase your value within the eyes of current and potential customers. Adding a social media element can also help you to generate online awareness around the store. After all, this is about providing an experience and creating a buzz around can make it intriguing enough for the public to visit, regardless of where you’ve located your store.
If you can do that successfully, you’ll have the edge over your competitor who hasn’t attempted this.
4. You can use pop up stores to experiment with new lines
If you’re unsure of whether or not a new line will do well in your store, it’s not a good idea to range a large amount of product and hope for the best. That’s even if you believe you know your target market inside out.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t take some form of a gamble. The risk can lower significantly if you use a pop up store to offer this product. Since you’re limited to the amount of inventory you can hold, it gives you the perfect opportunity to test out customer interest.
If the interest is not as expected, you know that the store will only be up for a limited period so you will not have lost too much with regards to investment. If the interest is far greater, you’ll know that it’s worth ranging the product in your stores. You could even set up annual or biannual pop up stores to up your sales if they’ve been impressive.
On top of that, if a supplier or retail brand has a new product that they want to introduce, you could negotiate for them to fund part of if not the whole operation so that the pop up shop becomes a collaboration.
At this point, it’s also worth mentioning that you don’t need to go beyond the walls of your store here. A pop up shop can be just as effective in-store. If you do decide to set it up in-store, you must consider the room it would take up and ensure that it doesn’t affect the space of your other categories or the shopping experience of your customers.
Take Fashion brand, Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Japanese artist, Yayoi Kusama as an example. In 2012 to promote their new line of clothes inspired by Kusama, Louis Vuitton set up a concept store at Selfridges department store in London.
5. Pop up shops are high impact but cost-effective
If you’ve clicked on the last link directing you to the story around Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama’s collaboration, or even the story around Magnum earlier, you’ll know that pop up shops are visual showpieces created to catch the eye and draw in shoppers.
Of course, they have to be if you want people visiting and engaging with your brand. But that’s not the only benefit of setting one up.
Another advantage is that it’s cost-effective. Less floor space means you’re not paying as much in rent as you would for a fixed retail store. The fact that you won’t be in the same spot for too long also lowers your costs. Rent could even fall away entirely if you’re a mobile store travelling around.
Of course, you do need to plan appropriately to ensure your space remains cost-effective. It’s just as easy to blow your budget renting a space and then using that space so poorly that it doesn’t offer you a decent return on your investment.
To ensure your space is cost-effective, it’s crucial that you first know why you’re investing in a pop up store. What is its purpose? Is it generate brand awareness or to make more sales for your retail brand? Once you understand why you're doing it, you can look at how much space you’d need to fulfil that as well as long you’d want to have it up and running.
And then there are your fixed costs such as utilities, insurance if you need it and salaries.
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