Tags: , , , ,

Retail Pop-Up Stores: How to Create the Element of Surprise for Your Shoppers


Ben Goldstein


This Q&A with Therese Daves, president and owner of Medallion Retail, is excerpted from Credibly Business Journal, Vol. 4: Nailing Your In-Store Strategy. For more of Therese’s advice on how to execute the perfect retail pop-up store, download our free journal right here.


What three qualities do you think truly extraordinary pop-ups share?

First of all, I think that all really great retail pop-ups are immersive. They are interactive on every level, inviting the shopper into a shared story. It goes beyond storytelling. Amazing retail pop-ups create a physical, inclusive context for the shopper and the brand to make moments together.

I also think that a great pop-up is one that’s surprising. Where it pops up must be surprising; that it even exists must be surprising. The use of space, the collection of products, the experience — it all should be astonishing. That makes a lasting impression.

The third quality that great pop-ups share is consistency of branding. Every decision about creating the pop-up is filtered through the brand lens. The look, tone, feel, product mix, everything; all demonstrate the unique brand personality. It just makes sense. If a brand is going to the trouble to create an astounding experience, it’s foolish not to make sure shoppers know exactly who gave it to them.

What were your firm’s first experiences with pop-up?

We were working in this area before they even called it pop-up. Back then it was flash retail, and it was all about moving product. Our job was to transform an unused space into a shop, usually overnight. We also created stores-within-stores — short-term, freestanding boutiques. These were positioned as destinations in the department store, designed to attract specific shoppers. They were pop-ups.

Do you think visual impact is the most important element of a pop-up?

I think it used to be. Now it’s about a comprehensive shopper experience. Beautiful visuals interwoven with sound, touch, even scent. Technology has given marketers the power to make almost any idea a reality. Visual impact is a major element of the experience — a must-have — but it isn’t enough on its own.

FREE DOWNLOAD — Credibly Business Journal, Vol. 4: Nailing Your In-Store Strategy.

Should a pop-up always have a social media component?

I think social media is critical to retail pop-up success. It can be effective at every phase of a pop-up’s lifespan. Social media drives traffic. It allows shoppers to be citizen journalists and fashionistas. It can add energy to sagging attendance. It can make your brand the topic of trending buzz, and your shoppers feel like insiders. Social media partnerships should be an element of every pop-up.

What are the three biggest mistakes you see retailers making when executing pop-ups?

The first mistake would be moving forward without an objective. This is so important; I can’t say it too many times.

The second mistake is trying to make a retail pop-up be all things to all people. The beauty of the pop-up is its specificity; its elegance is in its simplicity of message. You have to be careful not to dilute its impact. This doesn’t mean a pop-up can’t do two things well. It does mean it can’t do four things well.

Wearing out your welcome is the third retailer pop-up mistake. It makes sense on paper; so much has been invested, the return has to be through the roof. And while that’s very true, an extended stay is probably not the way to make that happen. A huge part of the attraction of the pop-up is the fact that it’s temporary. The experience is fleeting. Opportunities to be a part of it all – to be an insider – may be scarce. Not everyone will get in. Exclusivity is attractive, and fear of missing out is strong. So leave when the time is right, and leave them wanting more.

How can a retail marketer make a pop-up stand out among all the other pop-ups?

It’s competitive in pop-up right now. Every industry is doing it; retailers are not just contending with other retailers. It’s a battle royal for consumer attention. Those who understand their public, make them feel special and exceed their expectations for a meaningful experience will win.

And serve food. Everyone will get in line for a snack.