E-Commerce Pop-Ups Provide a Physical Presence for Online Retail

Pop-ups used to be purely opportunistic. Pop-ups are a way for retailers to increase sales in empty storefronts. They also offer a low-cost way for new businesses to establish themselves in a particular market or for established brands to make a big splash. Pop-ups have seen a lot of change over the years and are now a popular marketing tool for an unusual type of company: ecommerce retailers.

Pop-up e-commerce shops are often praised for their ability to disrupt stagnant industries. However, native digital brands are increasingly leveraging brick-and-mortar solutions in order to connect with customers and provide a rich brand experience.

Wayfair, the popular online home furnishing store, is hosting two pop ups from November to January. This marks Wayfair’s first foray into traditional retail. Both pop-ups can be found in Massachusetts’ Natick Mall or New Jersey’s Westfield Garden State Plaza. They are only 400 feet long, but they provide authentic customer engagement.

Wayfair’s pop ups offer customers unique and innovative experiences that are not available online. Customers can also design their furniture and get home improvement tips from an interactive “How to” station. These pop-ups are expected to be a success. Wayfair is committed to selling online only and may eventually open a store that’s open all year.

Ed Macri, Wayfair’s chief product and marketing officers, stated that “We are bringing Wayfair directly to shoppers in an entirely new format this holiday season.” “This pop up experience is another way that we’re deepening our engagement with customers beyond what’s online.”

Why did Wayfair change their mind? One goal could be to grow a loyal online audience. A second goal is to appeal to a larger segment of customers. Contrary to popular belief 50% of millennials, and 67% of Gen Z customers say they prefer to shop in stores. Native digital brands have listened to their customers and are reimagining in-store shopping with pop-ups, flex retail solutions and other innovative ways.

Bob Sherwin is the head of North America Marketing at Wayfair. He believes that pop-ups can be a great way to build a relationship with customers.

Both brick-and-mortar and e-commerce retailers have the chance to collect key information about their customers through pop-ups. Wayfair claims that temporary stores will allow the company to test consumers’ interactions with the brand offline. This information can be used by the company to refine its merchandising strategy, as well as to drive traffic back to Wayfair’s online store.

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Others are adopting the same two-tiered, Omnichannel retail approach. E-commerce is placed first and then supplemented with retail spaces that are more user-friendly. Casper, a native digital brand which is revolutionizing mattress shopping has launched two pop-ups in New York City this past year. The Casper Sleep Shop is the first. It features six tiny “homes” that allow shoppers to try the mattresses. It feels more like a home-away-from-home than a large-box mattress store and creates an immersive customer experience.

Casper’s second NYC location is so unique that it doesn’t sell mattresses. The Casper Dreamery is located in Manhattan’s SoHo area. It offers 45-minute nap sessions throughout each day. Casper fans can also attend events that are focused on sleep and wellness at the space. Casper believes that physical spaces are more than just selling products. They offer consumers the opportunity to experience warmth, tactile experiences, and personal insight, which is something you don’t get when you shop online.

Casper will open 200 stores across North America in the next three-years. Allbird, a sensational shoe brand, plans to open eight stores in 2019. Allbirds made the move after successfully trying out pop-ups and learning that offline investment can help them communicate with consumers.

Joey Zwillinger, co-founder of Allbirds, says that “Given the tactile nature of our brand story and product, it’s vital that we continue creating these opportunities to interact customers.”

While you are planning your marketing strategy for 2019, ecommerce pop-ups may be a great way to gain valuable insight into the product usage of your customers. If you want to understand how to position your company to grow in 2019, a well-planned pop up could be the key.

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