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Virtually (almost ?) popping up


Does e-commerce count for pop up ?

The widespread use of smart phones and tablets has fostered yet another genre of shopping to challenge the “bricks and mortar experience” – using graphics and images to link directly to e-commerce sites and compare options before purchase, effectively by-passing the traditional shop floor.

Savvy shoppers are now using the technology of their mobile devices to check competitor’s offers from within a store – it is a growing phenomenon known as “showrooming”. Traditional shoppers may be somewhat bemused by the notion of such blatant comparison – checking for better prices, range and availability elsewhere whilst standing in a shop… isn’t that unethical or is it just plain rude ? No, it’s a new attitude (and we better get used to it !)

Some in-store technologies will allow a customer to “model” a virtual garment or accessory – or at least try on an outfit – then send the images out via their device for comment from friends, seeking approval before purchase. The impact of mobile technologies and the myriad of applications is making it a whole lot harder for retailers to attract and maintain interest (and sales…) from their customers instore – but is of course opening many new channels and opportunities.

QR codes have been around for some time, but recently becoming more “mainstream” as retailers harness their wider application as a virtual sales tool.

2 years ago in South Korea, Tesco (Home plus) trialled QR enabled sales down in the metro subways – installing walls of images featuring their standard supermarket products. Commuters would click on the images, complete their shopping order online and arrange delivery to their door – all whilst waiting for a train. As explained in this YouTube video.

Around Melbourne, the technology was in use last year when Sportsgirl closed their Chapel Street store for a quick refit – but they plastered the street frontages with images of featured stock, brief descriptions and QR codes. Those windows still grabbed attention (and facilitated sales) during a period when the store itself was not performing. The installation (and the “technology” behind the virtual promotion) was as much a talking point as the mystery of a new Sportsgirl store growing behind the glass…

In Canada, Walmart have recently partnered with P&G to promote a range of consumer items from the sides of bus shelters. This article describes the “mobile-enabled pop-up shops” which allow customers to purchase P&G products – without setting foot in a Walmart store.

Okay, not so unique these days – but is it “pop up” ? Sure, it fits a few of the characteristics… the Walmart programme appeared quite suddenly in un-conventional locations, is there for a defined period and has a limited offering… they are all qualities of good pop up. But really – they are just posters at a bus stop…

Don’t get me started on those “pop up sales” promoted in media and the online newsletters… which then lead you to a website – not a physical store. Those guys are not doing pop-up, they are jumping on the pop up wagon (see our recent discussion of the sticky pop-up label)

Good pop up can be defined by installation (swift), location (un-expected) and duration (short) – but also offering creativity and brand engagement, being relevant and memorable. In my opinion “mobile-enabled” and “click-to-add-to-your-shopping-cart” don’t quite belong there… or do they ?


images : Google images


Tesco QR Code Store

Walmart P&G bus stops



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