Pop-up shops vs temporary retail

Certainly, a pop-up shop can help generate a buzz, and help with brand awareness. But their ubiquity means that they’ve long been added to the list of PR clichés by weary journalists. So, unless you’re doing something rather special, their usefulness in generating column inches is limited, and getting a pop-up – especially if it’s in the right location – is an expensive business.

Being an ‘expensive business’ is fine if a pop-up shop can justify its existence financially, but most can’t, and staff, stock and space come at a premium. They’re usually paid for out of a firm’s marketing budget, and their usefulness beyond merely that most intangible of aims – engagement – is rarely explored. Return on investment is difficult to prove (or perhaps better left uninvestigated) and sales are incidental, rather than one of the primary goals of a pop-up shop’s existence. But done properly, pop-up shops, or temporary retail experiences, don’t only get more people talking about your brand, they get more people spending with you immediately too.

We’ve recently brokered deals for brands in key locations such as Neal Street in Covent Garden, Bluewater in Kent, and London’s Westfield. For each, we’ve created a temporary retail experience that places profits at the heart of the strategy by acting not only as a point of sale, but also a direct-to-consumer showroom.

We’ve helped these brands understand how experiential marketing and providing the right technology such as free wifi can be rewarding in both attracting visitors, and attracting sales. Bright digital technology and ‘teasers’ of key pieces via some cool content and an offer to download via their mobile can also be used cleverly to draw in passers-by.

We are seeing a growing trend among the savvier brands to even remove tills from their stores and, in fact, we anticipate that the tillpoint may actually become redundant. Receipts are on their way out as they can simply be electronically sent to a customer.

A forward-thinking retailer can replace normal shelf edge strips displaying the item’s price with augmented reality versions, which allow people to ‘shop the look’ in a fashion store via their mobile or find out background info about the product. Staff can then use handheld tills for quick payments. It’s really convenient and the shop can also become a pick up point for online orders to avoid costs of postage.

The true future of these temporary stores is to integrate mobile and online tech with the ability to touch, try and buy the product. That’s connected retail.

And this mobile commerce element has other uses: for example, it can also be harnessed to capture all-important data so you can make that customer aware of offers at a later date, or just learn more about your target market.

Done well, temporary retail really works. So if you’re thinking about having a pop-up, think about how you can make it work harder for your brand. Make it inspiring, make it use technology in the best way it can, and above all, make it pay.

Alex Johns is managing partner at Worth Retail.

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