Pop Up Stores, latest retail excitement

The new retail practise that is gaining momentum
Pop up Success

Of late, retailers are experimenting with a new marketing concept - pop up retailing, where a store pops up for a few days at a major city or a mall and disappear after creating interest among consumers.


Launch, sell or just promote the products or services at unique destinations and then wrap up as quickly after generating the desired buzz, that is Popping up or Pop up retailing. It is becoming the latest trend with the retailers.


Quite popular abroad, a pop up store or pop up retailing is an innovative marketing concept, where in retailers pop up announced at unique locations away from traditional markets and disappear at the same pace within a few days.


Recently, Nokia India opened its new ‘pop-up store’ at the Forum Mall in Koramangala, Bangalore to showcase its navigation software Ovi maps on Symbian phones. Similarly, Mumbai-based design art studio Obataimu opened a pop up store at Bombay Electric, where it displayed products like yoga chairs, trunks, table-sized backgammon sets, lounge wear, dresses and tops for two months early this year.


Also Fenesta, the Gurgaon-based UPVC window maker adopted this concept where its mobile store would pop up for half-a-day at the offices of architect or builders and later move to a high-end retail place by the evening.


How it helps


For a nascent category, it is difficult to visualize people walking into a showroom or retail outlet the moment it opens. At this point, a pop up store help in generating the much desired curiosity around the product or service.


According to the advisory body, Technopak, the concept of pop up retail has been around for few years, especially in matured retail markets. Primarily used to launch a new product or to sell limited edition of the product or as a pilot run before launching the actual product, the concept is gaining popularity in India.


At Fenesta, it needed a marketing concept where the clients could touch the products to understand its various functionalities. Hence, a retailing concept like popping up fitted the bill. Its Business Head, Sandeep Mathur says, “It allows us to take our showrooms to clients. At the retail end, we are able to attract walk-ins from serious customers by locating the store at a high visibility location like a jogger’s park, market or a mall.”


Pop up stores could also be used to promote or educate consumers and drive trial, as Nandita Pal, Global Head for Ovi Maps at Nokia India said, “These are purely for demonstrating our range of devises and not to harness any sale.”


Besides earning publicity or generating sales, pop up stores also provide an opportunity to study and test customer behavior. “The responses are evaluated through walk-ins that reflect the awareness we have been able to generate. The number of enquiries reflect the effectiveness in terms of increasing sales footprint and the number of orders converted is reflective of its impact in shortening the sales cycle,” added Mathur of Fenesta.


The picture abroad


Globally, many brands and retailers have tried this concept to boost sales, gain market visibility and build a brand. It is believed that Target was the first retailer to start this concept. In an attempt to introduce Isaac Mizrahi's women collection, Target opened a 1,500 sq ft pop up store at Rockefeller Center in New York in 2003.


Gap Inc. has planned a pop up store between September 9 and October 3, 2010 for its website Piperlime in New York. The store would sell shoes and clothing by brands including Marc by Marc Jacobs, Frye, 7 For All Mankind, AG Adrian Goldschmied and others.


Kouni, the travel company also opened its first pop up travel store in Westfield London, as part of its retail expansion strategy for the next 18 months. They believe that being present at a luxury shopping destination would give them an opportunity to show their aesthetics. However for India, they do not have any similar activity, said the company’s spokesperson.


Even the retail giant Wal-Mart adopted the concept last April; when it showed its new fashion line Metro 7 in a Fashion Cabana in Miami's South Beach district, which opened for only two days.


The cost of setting up a pop up store varies between $100,000 and $600,000 a month and market analyst feels that setting up pop up stores is less expensive and tend to attract more attention than a television commercial or a newspaper advertisement could.


After the global recession of 2008-09, the concept of pop up retailing gained more significance. In order to fill empty spaces in strip malls, shopping centers and street level shops, the commercial real estate companies have also embraced this business model of pop up stores. These shopping center owners or mall developers abroad have specialty leasing departments that turn empty space into paying tenants for a few months or rent out kiosk space to retailers.


For retailers, the concept of pop up store has drastically reduced the expenditure cost on rentals. According to a California-based consulting firm, pop up retailing could change the way lease terms are handled over the long term. The scenario would make retailers the ones holding the cards, instead of the typical 10-to-20 years lease that retailers sign with developers. They could push for five-year leases.


In conclusion, pulling together a successful pop up store might require hard work but the payoffs are worth it, as Mathur of Fenesta said, “It is a great initiative for developing markets like India. Since, the distances and climate doesn’t allow customers to venture out very easily. We feel it’s of greater interest if we are able to take the showroom to the customers, it also shortens the sales cycle.”

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