Top 5 Reasons Why E- Commerce Brands Do Pop-Ups
Moving from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar isn’t always an easy or wise decision. For brands that have risen to fame with just an online footprint, and those who are struggling to make a name for themselves, it’s a major investment—one which may or may not pay off in the end. That said, pop-up shops have become a strong stepping-off point, giving brands the opportunity to experiment and reach their markets in new ways, whilst minimising the economic risks. Here’s a look at a few brands taking the leap and the reasons why it’s paying off for them.
1. To Create Awareness
Brand awareness seeps into our lives in a lot of ways we don’t realise. It’s the news articles you see on your iPhone as you wake, the advertisements you hear on the radio and TV, the sponsored posts as you scroll through Facebook, the ads you see on virtually every site you visit, and even the logos we see on products we use or on the clothing people we pass by are wearing.
Pause for just a moment and think about what you encountered before even going into work today. Whilst people a mere few decades ago got roughly 500 marketing messages per day, we now average somewhere between 5,000-10,000 every single day. How in the world is a brand to make itself be the one remembered through all the clutter? Even being online isn’t distinctive.
There are more than a million e-commerce stores in operation on a global scale, so getting discovered there isn’t likely unless you find a way to get yourself in front of your audience. Quite simply, plopping a pop-up shop where your audience already congregates, visits, or passes by can get you noticed in a big way.
2. To Test Brick and Mortar Concepts
“We always test new retail concepts during Singles Day, and pop-up stores are good opportunities for brands to feature their products,” says Michael Evans, president of Alibaba. “We want to monitor consumer interactions and results, and then decide if those retail ideas are something that we need to invest in more or something that we need to modify.” Recently, the company incorporated “magic mirrors” which enabled consumers to try on apparel, cosmetics, and accessories virtually. If people liked what they saw, purchasing it was as easy as swiping on the screen or scanning a QR code.
They also toyed with augmented reality, enabling customers to see product listings and grab coupons. Vending machines with products in them were also a big hit, giving people the opportunity to grab beauty products without having to wait in line. Their recent campaign, which included 60 pop-up shops across China, brought in a record-breaking $25.3 billion in a single day.
3. To Generate Awareness About Products
Amazon wants a bigger slice of the pie, and it’s betting on its tech to help it achieve that. The company rose to fame by becoming a vast online marketplace where people could find virtually everything they needed from various vendors and compare prices, making it easy to score a deal whether the person was shopping for clothes or toilet paper. Shipping costs and time to get items have always been a barrier, but the company largely did away with those concerns with the creation of Amazon Prime—a subscription-based service which provides ultra-fast delivery (1-2 days) on a multitude of products at no charge to customers beyond their regular membership fee.
Unfortunately, despite the uniqueness of Prime and its popularity, it still wasn’t enough to push Amazon to the top. Amazon has repeatedly sweetened the deal by increasing the benefits offered by Prime, but that still didn’t give them the edge. The company turned to tech. The Amazon Echo and Echo Dot are voice operated systems that can do almost anything, from making calls to playing music, placing orders, making shopping lists, and retrieving information. Users can also download “skills,” which teach the device to do more.
A device with the right skills and accessories can even run a smart home. How does one convey all that, particularly when a huge part of the market isn’t tech-savvy? Pop-up shops, of course. The brand has launched dozens of them, all geared toward teaching consumers about their products and making them more comfortable around tech. Previously, the strategy involved pop-up shops in malls during the busy holiday season, but now it’s placing pop-ups inside the company’s recently-acquired Whole Foods stores.
4. To Increase Their Physical Footprint
The online subscription service Birchbox knew one of the biggest barriers to getting consumers to sign up was that they hadn’t experienced their products in real life. Naturally, that meant creating some kind of physical footprint, but how and where? Instead of settling on just one location, the brand took its wares on tour, placing pop-up shops in a number of cities across the globe. Shops held events and also included social media activities to help spread the word. “Try Bars” gave visitors a chance to experience the products first-hand.
They were invited to build their own custom Birchboxes as well. At the end of the global tour, Birchbox settled on creating their very first brick-and-mortar shop in NYC. No doubt, the global pop-up tour gave them the data necessary to see where their first permanent home would be most lucrative.
5. E-Commerce Brands do Pop-Ups To Engage with Customers
Whilst several pet supply shops allow you to bring your pet in as you shop, that’s not really an option for an e-commerce store. Pet owners are left to guess about whether Fido will love, ignore, or immediately destroy toys when they arrive if purchased online.
E-commerce shop BarkBox attempted to make things easier for those who like to indulge their furry family members by creating a monthly subscription program, with new offerings shipped out regularly. While a novel concept, it still didn’t address the underlying concern many had, “Will my dog actually like this?” To solve it, the brand created BarkShop Live.
Pet owners weren’t just permitted to bring in their pups—they were expected to. Each dog in attendance was fitted with a vest that held an RFID chip, enabling the brand and the pet’s owner to track which toys Fido played with and which ones were likely his favourite based on time spent with it, totally eliminating the guesswork of selecting toys.
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