The retail industry continues to make headlines with the collapse of high-street names that suffered during the recession. The trend might have made many apprehensive about investing in the sector.
However, UAE has seen a new trend of pop-up shops who test ideas and gauge interest before actually stepping into the market. Several art galleries, events and mall venues have opened up to pop-up shops for a specific period. It gives budding entrepreneurs an opportunity to trial concepts that they may have with minimal risks.
Several known brands have also started investing in pop-up shops. An increasing number of retailers have remarked on the instant gratification of customers as the impetus towards temporary outlets.
Local entrepreneurs have built a digital community who follow their pop-up shops and create curiosity among them about where the next one might be. A good example would be of a fashion brand called Mochi, which started off with the concept and with the enormous response they got has finally opened a brick-and-mortar outfit.
Brands are using these interim spaces as a means to create buzz, test new concepts or evaluate a new neighbourhood. Accessible, mobile and portable, they offer customers a unique experience and a great way to interact with lesser-known brands. Dubai’s pop-up concepts like My Ex Wardrobe, The Urban Yogi and Shoreditch Muse have been a few of the concepts that saw a change in retail trends. Recently, Furla’s exclusive Candy Pop Up store was seen at The Dubai Mall. This store showcased a limited edition of the iconic Candy bag.
The concept has evolved into something more than a marketing stunt. It is an exhibit, an event, with a design and look to match the real offering. Louis Vuitton opened its pop-up shop in April 2013, keeping the consistency of its look. It has a exclusive collection of evening shoes.
Market Outside the Box, a project initiated by Dubai Shopping Festival, brought together local and regional brands at Dubai’s first sustainable fashion and lifestyle market.
What is crucial is marketing the concept right. A few key elements would be:
* Increasing curiosity: Tease your target audience with what you are going to offer. Let your customers follow you, offer something exclusive. With every new location, get your customers guessing where you will be next.
Social media marketing: Social media marketing is cost-effective and real-time and gives you the conversions you require. Create an event on Facebook; live Tweet about your set-up and location; post Instagram pictures of the location and customer testimonials; upload pictures on Pinterest and create a short video of your pop-up for YouTube. Cross promote the content on all social media channels and your customers would follow up. Social media helps create curiosity.
Be exclusive: Your shop must offer something exclusive, even a limited edition. For bigger brands, give your customers a reason to engage with you in this temporary retail space.
Location: Study the market, new events or empty retail spaces which may have a potential for a pop-up and invest accordingly.
Create an experience: One of the biggest advantage of a pop-up shop is the ability to create a unique consumer experience, whether it is through interactive displays, games, contests or music.
Educate and train: A pop-up store is an excellent way to educate customers on all that is great about you. The one-on-one interaction will keep customers engaged.
Brands must analyse the response from different locations, what customers are most engaged in and use this data to further invest in a potential bricks-and-mortar concept if needed.
The concept has been fair to bigger brands and lesser known ones. Malls, art galleries and community areas are open to the concept, and brands find it beneficial to reach their target audience in a most direct manner.
— The writer is director at McCollins Media FZ LLC.