Covid has forced many brands to put their plans on hold when it comes to investment in permanent retail projects. But at the same time, the pandemic has left consumers craving those tangible, real-life experiences more than ever before. Could pop-up retail stores hold the solution?
A recent report notes: ‘As soon as normality starts to creep back into life, pop-ups will be perfectly positioned to achieve brand growth while treading carefully into the future.’
Pop-ups could offer the door to a wealth of opportunities for retailers, especially in the current climate. They include:
- Bringing communities together and making your brand central to the experience
- Utilising bookings-only or invitation-only for both exclusivity and hygiene purposes
- Surprising and exciting consumers
- Inspiring loyalty by demonstrating you care beyond the actual purchase
- Harnessing temporary formats to offer consumers experiences they’ve missed
- Testing new retail technologies with minimal risk
Also tackling this topic, a Retail Sector article adds that pop-ups mean brands needn’t commit to long-lease agreements; meanwhile empty spaces can be filled with a rotation of unique and exciting experiences for consumers.
In this way, pop-ups are far more flexible than permanent stores; brands are able to scale up or down as required, in line with demand as well as government regulations.
They’re also flexible in terms of where they can be constructed. As people move away from shopping centres and town centres, opting for local alternatives instead, brands can open pop-ups in unexpected areas and make them talking points.
Two types of pop-up
Two types of pop-ups are emerging. The first idea retailers are exploring is using pop-ups to deliver experience, entertainment and connection – this is what we typically associate pop-ups with.
The second pop-up type is a kind of practical fulfilment centre. These stores blend online and offline worlds by allowing customers to drop off returns, displaying online items in real life, or to support high demand for a certain product or range. An important factor in this type of pop-up is being able to seek support from staff – something that satisfies consumers’ need for quality, accessible service.
All this isn’t to say that physical stores are redundant. There are still many scenarios where traditional is best – for instance, when consumers wish to purchase expensive products like furniture, it’s reassuring for them if they get the impression of longevity when they enter the store.
Yet, the pop-up model will become increasingly integrated within retailers’ business plans moving forward. There’s a chance that brands will start to experiment with and launch hybrid online-pop-up-flagship store initiatives.
The pandemic has led to a shift in consumer habits and behaviours and brands must now be more creative in their approach. Pop-ups are just one of the ways they can offer exciting, real-life experiences that will continue to engage consumers.
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