From Pure Play to the Best of Both Worlds

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Why the Pop-Up Holds Big Appeal

It was a well debated topic in the retail world: Is an online or physical presence the way to go? The conversation was often geared around the two battling it out for investment as part of an omni-channel or multi-channel strategy with the prosperity of one possibly sounding the death knell even louder for the other. And in many cases, it was the online future that won.

But now for the most forward-thinking retailers, the online ‘versus’ in-person attitude is very outdated. For pure plays like Google, Amazon and Missguided, to name just a few, a multi-channel approach that allows online and physical outlets to work hand in hand is a no-brainer. In fact, it’s the collaboration between the online and bricks and mortar elements of the business that is allowing brands to stand out in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

We know from endless surveys into consumer habits that convenience is a top priority for consumers – a big tick for the ‘online’ retailer – but the shopping experience is incredibly important to buyers too. Despite advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), the online experience offered by many retailers still pales in comparison to the face-to-face alternative. However primitive it seems, the ability to ‘try before you buy’, to touch and smell a product, still holds appeal to consumers of all ages.

In the same way that global tech giants are using a physical presence to further their appeal and tick more boxes for more buyers, much smaller e-tailers are doing the same. Take the Etsy traders, for example, who regularly ‘pop-up’ at makers markets or in local shopping centres. The principal is the same.

A face-to-face presence can create authenticity for a brand. Often delivering customer service and making a sale in store invites a different kind of review to those based on online sales, where customers can feedback on how a product feels and smells, can share their opinions on the attitudes of staff and the quality of customer service experienced in store.

Never before has brand culture been so important to consumers. The ethics and values behind a brand often influence buying decisions – especially so amongst young consumers in the 18-30 category. A physical presence provides the opportunity to cement brand culture and raise brand awareness in a way that enhances the online presence.

Of course, a permanent physical presence is a big commitment that demands significant investment.

For that reason, the ‘pop-up’ holds big appeal for many digital native traders. Often a one-time visit to a pop up is enough for a customer to develop trust in a brand and confidence in a product to continue buying online for future purchases. So, for many online traders, a well-timed pop-up ahead of their peak online trading periods, perhaps twice or three times a year, can lead to a significant boost in online sales.

This is also where those pure plays – who are including a physical presence as part of their strategy – have been clever. A pop-up strategy means they can choose the best space or venue to match their offering. Their promotional placements can be highly targeted by city or town to engagement space – railway stations, shopping centres or food halls, for example. They can then choose a different location to engage their target audience for their next offering.

Have you considered how a physical presence could boost your online business? We’ll be looking in detail in our next blog at the future of the high street, the rise of the pop-up and the opportunities it presents to traders. If you have any questions about how a kiosk, stand or pop-up could work for you, drop us a line and we’ll answer as many as we can.

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