The ease of being able to buy online from the comfort of our own homes; coupled with the fact that consumers now value experiences over the ownership of goods, means that high street retailers are struggling to get shoppers visiting their stores. However the few who are getting it right are those who provide their customers with a unique experience.
Retailers need to engage customers and create an environment where they can explore and play, immersing themselves in the brand. Due to the low rental fees and short term lets pop-ups provide the perfect opportunity for brands to not only be more creative but use the opportunity as a test and learn. This is true particularly for e-commerce companies who want to explore physical store options. The UK‘s pop-up industry is estimated to be worth £3 billion a year, with 44% of customers saying they have visited a pop-up in the last 12 months, and for good reason.
Pop-up shops have grown so popular and capture the public’s interest because they provide shoppers with an experience that they can’t get online or on their mobile phones. Pop-ups give customers the chance to interact with products and immerse themselves in an inspirational environment to create a connection to the brand.
Research from the website, Retail Sector, shows that the majority of younger shoppers are driven by the physical experience of brick and mortar stores. This sensory stimulation and the ability to touch and feel clothes that you have only ever previously seen online is key for millennials and even more so for Gen Z shoppers.
We recently visited the Amazon Fashion pop-up shop on Baker Street in London. The pop-up hosted exclusive fashion products and a range of shopper experiences, including Pepe Jeans denim customisation, Vogue beauty talks, yoga sessions, acoustic sets and health and nutrition tips from a top blogger. Statistics reveal that 72% of millennials plan to increase their spending with brands that provide them with a lasting impression.
Amazon’s pop-up is one example of retailers targeting millennials who are eager to share the new and exciting things they are doing that day. By appealing to these shoppers with ‘instagrammable’ experiences it means that they are likely to share this on their social media. Research shows that user-generated content has a 4.5% higher chance of conversion than branded posts.
The Accenture Seamless Retail Study found that 49% of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels. Providing a seamless omni-channel experience means that customers can trust a brand to recognise and connect with them every step of the way.
This year, online retailer Not On The High Street, opened two physical pop-ups in the run up to Christmas. The pop-ups resembled the homely look and feel of their website and put a real emphasis on personalised and thoughtful gifts for loved ones this Christmas.
It featured touch screen iPads offering shoppers the ability to transition seamlessly between the online and physical retail platforms. The Westfield pop-up also incorporated opportunities for personalised gifts and experiential workshops so shoppers could walk away with the Christmas present.
Two in three shoppers who tried to find information within a store say they didn't find what they needed, and 43% of them left frustrated. This insight highlights that there is the opportunity to use technology in-store to aid the customer journey by providing additional content and information, even an extension of product ranges online. There is no point having the latest and coolest tech if it doesn’t improve the customer journey in any way. And since pop-up shops provide the opportunity for brands to be creative, it makes sense that they should incorporate digital elements which offer some form of personalisation.
Levi’s opened a 10-week customisation pop-up studio called Project FLX in L.A. Shoppers used an iPad app to position their desired design features, such as fading, rips and personalised embellishment, onto the denim. Shoppers then watched as the FLX laser create the order in minutes. The bespoke jeans are then washed and ready for shoppers to take home within the hour.
The Levi’s pop-up integrated technology into the design and manufacture process, which customers were a part of at every step, leaving with their very own personalised item.
Pop-ups are becoming an integral feature of the retail landscape, demonstrated by the dedicated pop-up spaces which are now appearing across the country, such as LinkStreet in Birmingham’s Bullring. They will continue to grow and offer shoppers an appealing, fresh and imaginative experience that they can’t get through their screens.