Making the extra effort for a successful pop-up shop
Pop up shops need to be noticed (and look professional) – and that can require some extra planning and effort…
Okay, here’s a warning (an apology) before you start reading today’s blog post… I might seem to rant a bit, but there’s a couple of things I’d like to get off my chest ! It’s the frustration I feel when businesses go to all the trouble of launching into pop up… but seem to overlook (or skimp on…) a couple of really important factors.
This is certainly the busiest pop up season I’ve seen… there are so many pop-ups open right now and I’m thrilled that Melbourne has (finally, enthusiastically…) embraced the concept of short-term retail. But not all those shops seem to be making the most of their opportunity… many have fallen short in the promotion and presentation of their temporary store.
I’d like to think that I’m fairly-well abreast of most pop up shops which happen around Melbourne – businesses often contact me to discuss what they’re doing, and I’m always on the lookout for new events… watching to see who’s-doing-what and how they do them.
So I find it a bit disappointing when I come upon a new pop up just by chance – it seems that happens fairly often ! I’m not suggesting that I should know everything about what’s going on (please, don’t bombard me with details of each new event…) – but I do a lot of research in my role as The Pop Up Guy and think that I should at least stumble across those events, somehow – not just notice the “pop up” sign in a window as I’m driving through a shopping strip. And sometimes that’s all there is… the pop-up has been and gone, the only thing left is some vinyl on the window ! So if I didn’t know about it or see it while it’s open (and I’m a pop-up fanatic !) – what chance was there that others (ie…. customers) would’ve found it ?
If the shop has finished (and wasn’t picked up by social media)… who’s going to remember it ? All that effort (and expense) for a short stay – but if it wasn’t memorable (or mentioned on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest…) there’s little chance of customers (new and old) looking forward to the next pop up – or following the brand back to its usual or on-line home. I’d say the use of media (social and traditional) to broadcast a pop up event is critical – not just to current fans or whoever is on the mailing list, but also out to a broader audience. Sure, existing customers will flock along to a good pop up sale (and tell their friends), but the aim of a temporary store should also be to meet new customers and expand the fan base. Even the best, busy location won’t guarantee a successful pop up… people need to know about it (and that requires effective promotion…)
There are plenty of avenues for spreading the word – in Melbourne that might involve getting a mention on sites such as Missy Confidential, StyleZilla, Broadsheet or TimeOut (and popUPshopsMelbourne of course !) to help promote knowledge of the event – as well as using PR and social media specialists to reach a wider audience. All of that has to happen ahead of opening the store, with editorial and advertising booked well in advance (and will probably cost some dollars – but it’s an investment which should bring in more customers and hopefully many more dollars)
One of the greatest opportunities of a pop up is the chance to increase the awareness and following of a brand – introducing people to a new range of products or services, and encouraging them to follow through to purchase. Even for the smallest and newest of start-up businesses, the impression that visitors take out of a pop up store should be carefully considered and constructed – to deliver precisely the message and personality of the brand. I’ve said many times that pop ups shouldn’t only be measured on pure revenue results (cash sales) – but also in the brand awareness they provide.
And that’s where good store design and fixturing comes in. There’s obviously the temptation to spend as little time and money on the store fixtures (after all, isn’t it temporary and who really notices shelves and racks when they’re laden with handsome products ?) – but I’d say that’s kind of short-sighted. I believe that even in the fullest stores the fixtures do play an important role. They obviously need to be solid and safe – wobbly shelves and rickety tables might help to fill the room and display stock, but don’t add any sophistication to the mood of a store (and can certainly present the risk of collapse and damage). Inconsistent store fixtures are another of my nightmares… seeing several different styles of clothes racks and hangers (most likely salvaged from the trader’s own stockroom…) tell me the business is probably also somewhat lacking in direction and style. That might not matter to some brands, but I believe pop up is an opportunity to leave a lasting impression of quality and substance…
Recently I’ve seen some great pop up installations, where they’ve obviously spent extra time (and a little expense, not necessarily a lot) on the presentation of their stores. It’s certainly obvious when the business has employed a professional designer – eg. a Visual Merchandiser – to layout the interior of their store and maximise the effective presentation of stock. Concept areas, with funky furniture and an exclusive ambience, might create a focus for the new season’s or premium range… clever arrangements of wooden pallets or recycled / upcycled materials help to segment areas and create interesting nooks, change rooms or store rooms… making use of existing store fixtures (the shelves on walls, permanent counters) but adding graphics or themes to “brand” the space… can all add to the impression of creativity, energy and substance. And that’s usually the kind of message we want a temporary store to deliver… something memorable and with personality.
Isn’t that why the major retailers invest significant effort on store layout and fixturing ? (and expect their concessions to fund it !) Maybe not to make their stores so memorable – but certainly to provide a level of quality and style, and have customers feel good about their in-store experience (and confident to return for subsequent purchases)
I certainly appreciate how hard it can be to open a pop up shop… finding the right location, securing stock, organising staff and insurance, and all the rest of it (often in a mad rush, and at short notice !) That’s all critical stuff – it has to happen and can’t be ignored… But it seems to me that many pop up traders lose their momentum when it comes to promoting the new store and setting up their temporary home. Those two factors are as important as the rest of it… making the extra effort to ensure wide / relevant promotion and a stylish / effective store fitout should certainly go a long way to making the pop up store a (memorable) success.
There, I said it – it’s off my chest (phew !) Does anyone agree (or disagree) with me ?
Featured image : Extraordinary on Amazon.com, via Pinterest
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