Pop-up retailing has been around for some time now but many retail companies are yet to realize its full potential. First recognized and named by Springwise.com, the concept of pop-up retailing is to introduce a product in a temporary location for a short duration, generate a buzz from its innovative location and limited product line. It essentially makes use of the short life span of the fashion cycle by maximizing the buzz about a product with a ‘get it while it lasts’ attitude.
Pop-up retail outlets give a more of a touch and feel experience, especially to non-traditional products of etailers and dot-com companies like Song and eBay. Pop-up retailing is especially suited to fashion forward retailers, where the lifecycle of a product is very short. By taking their product to the consumers, these retailers are increasing their customer base as well as generating an enormous amount of publicity.
Pop-up retail outfits need to be managed very efficiently as they are in place for a shorter time than traditional retailers are. Pop-up’s operate usually for anywhere between 3 months to 3 days and their Location is of course the key factor in determining their success. A variety of innovative locations and spaces, like mobile units and empty garages are usually used. The success in pop-up retail is in bringing a new product to a new clientele. By connecting the two, a retailer can achieve success in sales as well as help in building the brand.
US discount store Target, widely known as the king of pop-up retail, opened a temporary 1,500-sq. ft. store in Rockefeller Center for five weeks in October 2003 to showcase Isaac Mizrahi’s new women’s wear line of clothing. For 5 weeks in the summer of 2004, Target opened a store in the Hamptons, featuring only home accessories for the summer. The store also sold air conditioners from a truck in Times Square for $75 each, making it a hard to beat deal for the customers and freeing Target’s stores of space. For the Christmas 2004 season, Target set up a temporary floating store on the Hudson river. Being creative has boosted the company’s image from being boring and predictable to exciting and innovative.
Vacant, is even more proactive and opens stores in empty spaces in cities like New York, London, Tokyo, Shanghai, Berlin, Stockholm and Los Angeles featuring limited edition, hard to find products from both established brands and emerging designers. New store locations are announced by email only to Vacant Club members. The company has also launched a Vacant Guerilla mobile unit that offers limited edition products on a Hummer H2.
The London Fashion Bus is not as secretive about its locations and travels continuously across Britain to areas that do not have trendy boutiques. The bus therefore widens the market on an enormous scale for designers stocking their products on the bus.
eBay launched the eBay Showhouse in September 2004 and invited six interior designers to furnish a New York City penthouse with a limited budget and furniture and accessories purchased only through eBay.com. Their goal was to change the company’s image as a flea market retailer to a chic, young and modern retailer.
Oceanic, a Brazilian cosmetics firm, decided to launch mobile vans as their stores and as well as their delivery vehicles. The company targets prime consumer locations like universities, hospitals, parks and trade shows. Mobile pop-ups need inventory specialization to focus on the consumer at the specific location that they are aiming for. Oceanic mobile vans stock up with sunscreen and suntan lotions when they open near the beach.
Meow Mix, maker of dry cat food, pushed the pop-up retail trend even further by opening a 3,500-sq. ft. on 5th Ave. in Manhattan and proved that the format works for non-fashion products too. Besides offering new varieties of cat food, they also had interactive games, a gift shop with cat food and toys.
Self Magazine opened The Self Center, a Spa in New York City for a month. With a $25 entry fee, customers had full access to all services including free makeovers and consultations with physicians for Botox and other beauty treatments.
Pop-up formats have allowed retailers to test markets for new products at a lower risk. Several companies have also experimented with sections of stores that allow customers to test products like washing machines before purchasing. By bringing in an element of surprise and limiting the availability of an item, pop-up retail has become an extremely successful format of doing business. These trends have changed the way business is conducted and customers are attracted to a store.