Recently, Amazon rewrote the rule book when news broke of the internet retailer opening a bricks-and-mortar concept in Manhattan.
While Amazon is yet to confirm the news, if true the experimental pop-up store will apparently function as a small warehouse, holding limited inventory for same-day deliveries. The store will also act as a showcase for items such as Kindle e-readers, Fire phones and Fire TVs.
Apparently Google also plans to build a store in New York to promote Google Glass — a 4,100 square-foot space close to Apple and many designer boutiques such as Stella McCartney and Tiffany & Co.
It highlights how omni-channel retailing is a two-way relationship between the web and a store. On the one hand internet retailing still necessitates physical interaction with the product and consultation with sales executives. Conversely, a traditional retailer needs to continually refresh its in-store experience to compete with the daily deals and convenience of online shopping.
The move by Amazon and Google points to a growing demand for pop-up retailing as the solution — and in the Middle East Retail Access is receiving an increasing amount of design briefs for pop-up stores. And not just from small independent retailers, but from global brands that need temporary leases for products that need a faster exposure to market or wish to use the element of surprise to make the spaces fresh, exciting and exclusive. Or want to create a level of integration between a marketing campaign and the ‘in-store’ experience.
Pop-ups work brilliantly because they provide retailers with many opportunities to create excitement around their brand, launch a new store, connect with the consumer and more. In product launches, for example, clever use of the space creates a dynamic experience that can engage the customer to your brand and provide the ideal opportunity to sample new products.
It also gives you the perfect opportunity for bringing your promotional ideas to life in colourful, animated and entertaining ways. In some cases, pop-up stores are also seen as an alternative to outdoor advertising as it offers the benefits of the latter and also acts as a point-of-sale.
Whatever the purpose of a pop-up design, it points to a new revolution in retail. With so many means and methods to pay for products — retailing is becoming a communication channel to connect customers with brands, as much as it is a shopping destination. To this end, pop-up retailing allows a company to create a unique environment that engages customers and generates a feeling of relevance and interactivity.
Kate Spade, for example, opened an inviting igloo for three weeks during New York’s winter where it handed out free hot chocolate to keep shoppers warm. Likewise, Godiva opened a pop-up on 5th Avenue just for Valentine’s Day.
Once retailers begin to understand that retailing is a marketing tool as much as a sales channel, then they can begin to integrate the online space with in-store location to create a more memorable shopping experience, giving the consumer a choice of where they would like to spend their money.
Take FrankandOak.com, an online fashion store for men. They ventured offline with a pop-up store and found a whole new demographic of men in their 50s from within the neighbourhood. Women were also flocking to the store, to buy clothes for their partners.
It’s an organisational challenge to make the strategic shift because it requires integration across the various points of sale — and the function of the store needs to operate as a seamless part of the consumer’s multichannel experience. Likewise online retailing needs to improve its customer experience to a level that the shopper expects in-store.
Only then can a retailer begin to make the most of multichannel retailing — just as Amazon and Google are … supposedly!
The writer is the Director, Consultancy and Retail Architecture, at Retail Access.