Putting a store in your store so you can shop while you shop isn’t just a zany Xzibit reference – it’s one of the most popular ways that small businesses and entrepreneurs are creating new opportunities in the physical retail space and taking advantage of the unique opportunities for collaboration in their markets.
For a small business, location can be paramount to success – and in today’s highly competitive marketplace, a well-situated slice of real estate that puts you in touch with foot traffic that matters to your business can be a difficult thing to find, afford and keep. In light of this, many smaller firms are turning to e-commerce to save money on their operational costs and reduce the risk of opening a full-time retail location: however, the opportunity to create hands-on brand awareness, to directly showcase the quality of your product, and to make meaningful connections with your customers is largely lost on the web. What’s a savvy small business to do?
Many business owners are embracing pop-up shops to bridge the gap between real-world brand presence and e-commerce agility. A pop-up shop is a temporary retail presence, creatively designed to show off the best qualities of your brand. It opens quickly, is active for a short period of time, and then vanishes into the ether. Pop-ups are amazing buzz generators, and an affordable alternative to full-time retail leasing in high traffic areas. However, it’s not quite as simple as waltzing into the nearest empty lot and rolling out some tables and banners. To make a pop-up truly pop for your business, take note of the following guidelines.
Make It Special
A great pop-up is about more than just sales. It’s a chance for you to do something really unique that fits your brand identity, and to do it with a wow factor that your customers might not expect. Give people the chance to interact directly with your products, have fun, and experience something both memorable and shareable. For some businesses, just the tangibility of their wares is attractive: who wouldn’t want to feel the heft of a custom-made chef’s knife in their hand rather than look at it on the web? For others, a great pop-up will provide opportunities for customers to become more informed and educated firsthand through one-on-one conversations, seminars and demonstrations.
Make It Symbiotic
Setting up a pop-up promotion in an unused or public space can be a great way to save on the cost of brick and mortar presence and go directly to your customers no matter where they are, but what about taking it one step beyond that? Success in the pop-up model can depend on forging great relationships with businesses around you that complement what you do. Creating a partnership with an existing business is a delicate matter – you will be taking over floor space in their location, and you will need to negotiate terms that make the arrangement beneficial for both players (especially to ensure that you’re collaborating instead of competing.) However, when done right, customers will feel like they’re getting the best of both worlds. Lots of clothing and accessory/apparel brands will collaborate like this, offering exclusive co-designed items that their audience will crave, or showing how their products mix and match together in cool ways.
Make It Measurable
The limited time aspect of a pop-up shop should be a major attraction for your audiece – creating urgency is key to success. However, just focusing on the window of time in which your pop-up will be active means you’re missing out on valuable information that could impact the wider scope of your business decisions. You should leverage the time before, during and after your pop-up to engage, test and collect data. In the lead-up to your pop-up debut, teasing your audience (with clues to its location, tantalizing product reveals, and so forth) can be one of the best ways to build buzz, especially on social channels. You can use the lead-up period to gauge and tailor your pop-up plan right up to the last minute before opening. During the event, make sure to take in as much information as possible about the number and kind of visitors, the things that worked, and the things that didn’t. And don’t let the fact that your pop-up has closed its doors mean that you should stop promoting. Remain in contact with your pop-up visitors! Share photos and stories it generated on your social channels! You can even get right to business of teasing the next iteration for those visitors who might suddenly be hungry for more.