How Retailers Are Using Pop-Ups to Drive Customers In-Store

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The pandemic launched ecommerce forward by as much as a decade. But in the wake of the peak days of COVID, retailers are strategizing on how to keep shoppers coming into stores.

One pillar of most in-store marketing strategies is to transform shopping into a share-worthy experience. This, retailers bet, is a way to make hitting stores worth it when Amazon is only ever a click away.

Pop-ups are one of those potentially exciting in-store experiences. This year, 32% of brands planned to establish or expand their pop-up strategy and in-person experiences, according to a recent Forrester report commissioned by Shopify.

Phil Granof, CMO at omnichannel store solution company NewStore, connected with Street Fight to explain how the pop-up movement is taking place and infusing life into stores.

What is most exciting to you about the way retailers are using pop-ups?

When done right, pop-ups breathe life into brands by tapping into three core emotional drivers in retail shopping: novelty, surprise, and discovery. 

The ephemeral nature of pop-ups signals to consumers that something new and exciting is happening — something so innovative that it can’t be contained in a traditional store. In fact, the mindset works both ways. Retailers also ‘allow’ themselves to think outside the box and push the boundaries of their brand in ways that wouldn’t be acceptable inside their four walls. 

Collaborations are a great example of this dynamic, such as when Adidas joined Gucci in LA and launched the pop-up with a retro street party.

How has pop-up strategy evolved or taken on new significance since the pandemic?

The pandemic forced retailers to adopt an omnichannel mindset, blowing up the notion that online and offline were different and that every store needs to be as big as possible and stuffed to the gills with inventory. Pop-ups, especially outdoor pop-ups, proved that a successful retail footprint could be small, light, and flexible.

Are there certain verticals that have been especially quick to adopt pop-ups or innovate?

Within our brand portfolio, we’ve seen more adoption within apparel. Apparel is a natural fit because of the fleeting nature of fashion and the buzzy nature of pop-ups.

What role does technology play in pop-ups?

The technology infrastructure behind pop-ups should be as light-touch as possible and allow retailers to spin up and down as quickly and cheaply as possible. NewStore, in particular, allows retailers to run their stores simply with a few iPhones. No registers or antiquated PCs. This lends itself quite well to the pop-up world. In fact, one of our customers, Outdoor Voices, ran a pop-up doing just this.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]