Pop-up shops operate without the traditional space and permanence of brick-and-mortar. Foregoing the committal of annual rents or the staleness of a static layout, the pop-up shop isn’t abandoning bricks — instead it’s just “teaching an old dog new tricks.”
Not even a new retail concept itself, the pop-up continually reinvents with the changing seasons, adding “service hubs” for gift-wrapping, styling tips and other tricks relevant to the experience-minded consumer during the holidays.
Frank Poore, chief executive officer of CommerceHub, which allows retailers to expand their product assortment and streamline delivery experience, speaks to WWD about holiday pop-up retailing expanding on some of the latest iterations of the shops.
WWD: Outside of selling product, how are retailers using holiday pop-up shops to leverage their brands? Explain showrooming, product pickup locations, etc.
Frank Poore: Although the holiday pop-up shop is not a new concept in retail, the format is evolving. Instead of being yet another venue for retailers to sell inventory, pop-ups have placed more of an emphasis on the customer experience offering shoppers special services such as fashion brands bringing in stylists to offer personalized recommendations for shoppers, home décor retailers bringing in interior designers to offer tips, gift-wrapping and more. By offering these in-person experiences and incorporating the showroom model, which is where a shopper visits a store to test products before purchasing the product online, retailers are able to elevate their brand as well as increase transactions on their online sites.
WWD: How has the physical store evolved to warrant new customer experiences?
F.P.: In order to remain relevant, brick-and-mortar has found its place as a driver for customer experiences. Embracing an inventory-free model, retailers are focusing on offering in-person experiences to build genuine relationships customers and elevate their brand. Take Nordstrom’s recently launched “Local” stores, as an example, which are essentially “service hubs” dedicated to providing curated services to customers based on each geographic area’s specific needs and acquired tastes. By offering in-person services, retailers are improving their customers’ experiences at their stores and taking advantage of what they have that their digital competitors don’t have — real estate.
WWD: Why is this growing trend of pop-up retailing useful for direct-to-consumer brands?
F.P.: Direct-to-consumer brands, and digital native brands specifically, can use pop-ups to expand their customer base to consumers who want a more tactile shopping experience and aren’t necessarily early adopters.
WWD: Who are some recent digital-native retailers that have utilized holiday pop-up stores?
F.P.: Most recently, Wayfair unveiled its plans to open two pop-up shops to better connect with their customers this holiday season. Built around the showroom concept, the Wayfair “clicks-to-bricks” pop-up shops are inventory-free and give customers the opportunity to experience their product offerings in real life before ordering them online. Another example is Facebook, which announced they’ll be bringing around 100 digital-native brands and small businesses to Macy’s store locations via holiday pop-up shops.
WWD: How is their success measured?
F.P.: Success for pop-up shops is measured similarly to that of their physical counterparts — sales. However, with the added experiential element combined with the fact that more pop-up shops are going inventory-free, success is also measured by how it boosts customer loyalty, increased social media engagement and media coverage and ultimately, the elevation of their brand awareness.