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  • Written by Sally Grandy

With the recent demise of big retailers such as Top Shop and Pumpkin Patch, it appears traditional retail businesses are being replaced with online shopping.  At the same time, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in the new “Pop-up Shop” trend.  


Business and communications expert Mike Irving said engagement with customers lay behind the success of the pop-up shops.  


“It seems everyone is racing towards selling online and thinking online sales is the answer.  From what I’ve observed though, it’s only part of the answer.  Online shops typically are missing one essential factor – human interaction and engagement,” said Mr Irving.


“The solution is a model where we can sell goods online but also engage personally.  Some brands have found ways to establish connections via online engagement, which is great for them.  Another way of going about it is through a pop up shop,” he said.  


“A great example of this in action right now are the sales of ‘fidget spinners’, which is a global phenomenon.” 


“These are being sold online and at pop up shops in shopping malls and at outdoor events.” 


“Kids watch videos of fidget spinners and then they see them at a stall where they can touch, feel and try – before you know it, parents are buying them and it’s a multi-million dollar global industry.”  


“Pop up shops allow retailers to engage with customers at a fraction of the cost of leasing retail premises.” 


One of the richest men in the world, Warren Buffet, recently made the claim that the department store of the future will be online and he’s sold out almost entirely of his traditional retail shares in companies like Walmart.  


Mr. Irving agreed online was the way of the future, while still holding the belief that customer engagement and communication remain a crucial part of the equation.  With the rising trend of pop-up shops and online retailers taking the opportunity to engage their audience face-to-face; it seems like he might be right.  


“It’s not just that people want to physically see the product, understand how it works and check the quality before buying, either.  In general, we like to buy from people we know and trust.  If you’re able to really brand yourself and find a way to connect with your audience online, that’s great.”


“Pop-up shops are just a way to further that connection and allow your customers the chance to meet you and see what you’re all about.  If you’ve already got a good following, then the novelty of a temporary pop-up shop where there’s a limited window of time to come check out your products will also create more of a sense of urgency with your audience and increase the chances of a great turnout.” 


“It’s easy to see how the success of a pop-up store relies on your ability to communicate and connect with your audience; and in this case to do so quickly since it’s a temporary situation.” 


If you’re an online retailer who’s considering a Pop-up Shop, here are a few suggestions from Mike to help ensure it’s a success:


  1. Promote it!  Especially if you already have a great facebook, twitter, and/or instagram following - let everyone know where you will be and when.  Let them know you want to meet your customers.
  2. You want to connect with people as quickly as possible - a great way of achieving that is by asking questions.  Instead of showing customers what you have, ask them what they are looking for, what they want, and then pay thoughtful attention to their answers.  Take a genuine interest in your target audience and the connections can then become effortless.
  3. Be authentic.  This one may seem obvious, and it’s still worth stating.  Your customers are there to meet and engage with you, to find out what you’re really about, so let them.


In Sydney and Melbourne, 20% of the high-street retail space in the CBD is made up of pop up shops according to Colliers International retail leasing.  


Mr Irving said a pop-up store can be a fantastic way to engage with new customers and re-engage with existing ones while raising brand connection and it can all be done at minimal cost. 


“There’s no doubt these days that retailers are struggling; commercial leasing is expensive which means product prices are higher.” 


“While online stores can offer items cheaper, they’re missing out on customer interaction.  That’s why pop-ups are a great solution to reaffirm your brand and build engagement.” 


About Mike Irving 


Mike Irving runs Advanced Business Abilities and is a leadership performance coach specialising in leadership, communication, sales, and recruiting.  You can learn more about his work by visiting www.advancedbusinessabilities.com and registering to receive free ideas and inspiration to build a better and more successful business.  

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