By Melissa Gonazalez, Founder & CEO, The Lionesque Group
Headquartered in the U.S., Lionesque Group has produced over 80 pop-up retail experiences in New York City, Los Angeles and the Hamptons with the vision of branded experience. The entity guides clients throughout the entire lifecycle of the 'pop-up experience'.
In the past, malls across the U.S. captured customers and retailers. Then, in the 90s, the paradigm shifted to e-Commerce options. Today, the retail trend is evolving to the in-person experience of pop-up shops. What is the impact of these temporary retail venues have on Omni-channel marketing strategies for business owners, and what role do they play for established brands?
Pop-ups are no longer just a trend. They are now a sufficient vertical when companies are evaluating their overall business plan and marketing budgets for the year ahead. Whether it is to introduce a new product line, experiment with new partnerships or test a new market, they take significant investments but can have valuable returns.
When perspective new clients call the office, one question I am always asked is: ‘what is the ROI if I do a pop-up shop?’ Instinctually, brands always think of sales when they mention return on investment, but in a short term retail stint, one cannot limit themselves in only thinking about sales for the duration of the pop-up store. Of course, some portion of your ROI is sales, but to focus solely on in-store sales as the one and only key performance indicator is short-sighted. There’s a bigger picture that involves building the brand and the sales it will lead to in the quarters to come. It is imperative to remember there’s a difference between qualitative benefits and sales. Qualitative benefits can eventually lead to more sales, but they’re not the same thing.
Today there are numerous options of easy to implement point of sales systems for a brick and mortar retail location. From Shopify POS to Shopkeep, not only do they enable a retailer or brand to easy swipe and run sales, they also enable them to collect key data. Data that brand can use to compare online and offline performance, conversion rates on invested inventory capital, identify top sellers, average price point and beyond. In addition, brands have a tool to collect email contacts from customers and can tie it to store sales and earmark customers into buckets based on purchases and preferences. Each contact equates to a new opportunity to follow up and convert them to future sales.
Foot traffic counters and patterns
For a nominal amount, retailers and brands can integrate beacons into their storefront perimeter to collect data about passersby and learn about traffic patterns From this they can learn if they are open during the right times of day, are they leaving money on the table closing sooner than they should, when foot traffic is the heaviest and the lightest. Brands can also study conversions of foot traffic to in-store visits and make correlations to window merchandising displays, store deals and even street team marketing efforts. If the longer term goal is to learn from your pop-up and open a permanent physical storefront, a brand can use this data to truly test location, marketing strategies and store hours. Store hours impact staffing, staffing impact sales, and so on.
In-store beacons can also teach a brand about your customers by studying the flow of traffic. What leads customers from one area of purchase to the next? When most people buy product A, is their next step is to look at product B? You can use this information not only to create your in-store experience, but also to design or refine your web presence.
Social Media Data
A pop-up store creates an environment where customers expect to discover, to be surprised and delighted. As such they are often more open to share their experience of discovery on socials. Given the openness of customers, a pop-up can serve as a huge focus group for your brand. A brand will gain insight to top shared products, top trending colors, most used channels for sharing. It can help illuminate brand evangelists not prior known and it can not only inform merchandising decisions in the future, but also marketing campaign strategies.
When measuring ROI, a brand can also calculate the amplification their brand received as a result of the pop-up. How many influencers shared your product, how many followers did it permeate and how many of those followers re-shared on their channels?
If a brand really listens to all the data, they can learn a lot about what people are gravitating to, what was catching their attention. This can provide merchandising feedback, which is also hugely important. What makes to order or manufacture for next season, what styles are the most popular, how to merchandise the homepage, what’s going to be part of your email marketing, all that is a return on your investment. In order to really capitalize on all of these benefits, a brand needs to be sure to have to have systems in place to track this information.
Most of these systems are relatively basic, like getting Google Analytics set up and understanding where your drivers of traffic are coming from, or going back to your own social channels and seeing what new engagement happened and how many times you were mentioned over the time period of your pop-up. In today’s overly competitive and in some cases saturated marketplace, Omni-channel marketing is the reality for growth potential, pop-ups are a strategy that can payoff in the short and long run.