Wouldn’t it be great if you could test the popularity of new merchandise with customers before doing a full launch? Or dabble in opening a brick and mortar store without committing to a full lease term? Thanks to the new pop up shop trend, now you can! If you’ve been out and about in the Boston area lately, you’ve probably seen some of the ways that pop up shop business owners are taking over the retail market. But what exactly is a pop-up shop, and why should your business hop on the trend? We’ve got the answers.
What is a Pop-Up Shop?
In its simplest terms, a pop-up shop is a small, temporary shopping experience. Similar to the way that different retailers have booths at fairs or festivals, these pop up shop markets have truly evolved into something magical. From pop-up shop restaurants and home design stores to brands that cater to dogs and their human counterparts, consumers have bought into the idea of this new kind of shopping experience.
Why Open a Pop-Up Shop?
While you may think that a pop-up shop is a neat idea for someone else, you may be nervous about what it would mean for your business. However, there are dozens of perks that come with the simplified new retail experience:
- Lower overhead cost
- Hands-on environment
- Customer feedback
- Free publicity
- Try something new
Low Overhead Cost
If you’ve never operated a brick and mortar retail establishment before, you may not realize the real cost of running a business off-line rather than online. Research estimates that pop up shop owners spend roughly 80 percent less to launch their business than a full-time brick and mortar location — even in big cities like New York City and Boston. Business owners can rent properties that may have been sitting vacant, giving the landlord needed income while saving money on the overall cost of the property. Depending on your location, you also may not need to upgrade the building’s features, such as paying for an internet services package.
This will leave room for you to focus on the things that do matter in the world of pop up shops, like signage. Your customers will have no clue where to find you unless you tell them. Imagine hunting for one small business in Boston without an address? It’s critical to invest in proper signage, as well as have an understanding of how to share your business with your target audience before launching your shop.
There’s a reason that the “try before you buy” mentality rings true for so many consumers. Being able to handle merchandise before you commit is something that people value. Whether it’s feeling the quality of a blanket or scarf or seeing if that dress looks as good on you as you think it will, being able to have a hands-on experience can answer the questions and concerns that a customer may have.
A great example of a brand that utilized a hands-on environment to mold their next step in retail is BirchBox. Originally an online makeup subscription box retailer, BirchBox opened up a series of pop up stops to allow shoppers the opportunity to curate specialized makeup boxes for themselves personally. In addition to trying makeup, customers could take advantage of the on-site manicures and astrology readings that were also taking place in the pop-up shop. Whether or not it sounds crazy, it worked. Birchbox recently announced its first permanent location in Soho in New York City after its success as a pop-up shop.
By creating a hands-on environment, you’re opening up the opportunity for your customers to experience something that they are generally only used to viewing online. This brings us to our next perk: customer feedback. While it may seem overwhelming or scary at first, using a pop-up shop to gain valuable information about how customers view your products or brand as a whole can help influence significant marketing changes, product development, and even change the way that a brand is involved with various social issues. It’s essential to be prepared to utilize the research that your pop-up shop generates and allow it to inform decisions about your best practices.
When brands create unique experiences, customers will be drawn to share those experiences with their friends. Encouraging your customers to post on social media is a great way to generate critical free publicity because it utilizes their network of friends to spread the word. While a small town may utilize more word of mouth advertising, brands in cities like San Francisco and Boston are typically better served by encouraging customers to tag them in their posts.
Another way to generate publicity is to draw on people’s desires. Take exclusivity, for example. One of the primary keys to success when operating a pop-up shop is to create something that feels exclusive. The fear of missing out tends to influence shoppers more than they may realize. This fear is how shoppers are sucked in by marketing campaigns that use terms such as “one day only” or “won’t last long.” While may brands invest a lot of capital to ensure they are successfully promoting their brand, launching a pop-up shop doesn’t have to mean hiring a brand new marketing team. Even in larger cities such as Austin, Atlanta, or Boston, these pop up shop experiences are still unique enough in themselves to be eye-catching.
Another aspect that ties into free publicity is brand awareness. When customers are posting on social media about your pop up shop, make sure they are aware of how to tag you in their posts. This will help increase the reach of your organization by organically growing your audience.
Try Something New
If you have an idea that you’re excited to try but don’t want to fully commit just yet, a pop-up shop, especially in a major city like Denver, Boston, or St. Louis could be the perfect way to judge the success of your operation on a larger scale. This ties into the increased value of opening a pop-up shop rather than a full brick and mortar location as well as the ability to gather valuable customer feedback.
For more information on Uniek Living, including any pop-up shop markets we may be opening in the Boston area, check out our website!