The ecommerce ecosystem is as crowded as it can get. There is actually no precise statistic that will tell you how many online shops are up and running these days. However, since major ecommerce platforms such as Shopify and Magento all claim hundreds of thousands of shops operating using their solutions, it is safe to say that we are talking about a seven-digit number.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the vast majority of online shops are doing everything in their power to get noticed in this vast ocean. One solution that has been gaining popularity with ecommerce business owners are pop-up shops.
An ecommerce pop-up shop provides much-needed brand exposure to the business in question, it allows for the most immediate market research and it also helps the business test new products before they become the website’s flagship products.
Of course, in order to accomplish all of this, you need to know how to do a pop-up shop the right way and a huge part of this is synchronizing the existing (and newly implemented) online efforts with the freshly opened physical shop.
Time and Place
One aspect of online-offline synchronization that often gets neglected is finding the right space for the ecommerce pop-up shop. Because of their lack of experience, ecommerce business owners fail to give due diligence when finding the right space and they end up with a shop that attracts absolutely no foot traffic (i.e. people who just stumble upon it).
You need to know what your target market segment looks like and where it can be found in their city. For example, an ecommerce website that sells mom and baby products will attract very little (if any) interest in a business park somewhere. You will want to pop up in a shopping-heavy area instead.
The timing is also important. For instance, an ecommerce business that sells ski clothing and equipment will most likely do very poorly during the summer months.
The nature of one’s online business should be paramount when choosing the time and place for the pop-up shop.
Choosing the right time and place will increase the chances of an ecommerce pop-up shop attracting accidental shoppers. However, as we all know so very well, the success of a pop-up is determined by the hype that is built beforehand through various types of marketing. For ecommerce companies, this will mostly involve digital marketing.
Social media is the perfect channel for promoting an ecommerce pop-up shop. As soon as you set the date and the location, you should start dropping hints about the upcoming event, the opening of the shop. Your company’s different social accounts have to work in unison, building hype and revealing the details of your pop-up.
You should also encourage your most loyal customers to share the news and it might actually be a good idea to reach out to an influencer or two, find out how much they would charge you for a bit of promotion. One word of warning, if you choose to go the influencer way, make sure they are actual influencers.
Another way to go is with emails that you would send to all of the people on your mailing list, i.e. your past customers, as well as your potential customers. Make a big deal about your upcoming pop-up and perhaps even include a discount coupon for purchases they make in person at the future shop. This way, you will entice them to visit it once it is open.
You can also approach websites that do PR content, as well as local media outlets to see if they are willing to feature you.
Make sure that your social media and email marketing is heavy on the visuals, as you will want to catch as many eyes as possible. Of course, you will want to stay on the safe side and use free stock photos, like the ones Shopify’s new service Burst provides, for example.
Once the work begins on your pop-up shop, you can start posting short videos on YouTube, giving people an inside look at how everything is going and what they can expect to see once you open.
Your opening day has to be an event in itself, generating buzz in any way you can imagine. Make sure that you share videos of your opening, interviews with customers and any user-generated content that goes online during the opening day. If you can get a media outlet to cover the opening, make sure to organize this as well.
Multi-Channel Shopping Experience
When we are talking about the synchronization of your ecommerce website and your pop-up shop, the majority of it will revolve around the shopping experience.
Many ecommerce pop-up shops are not even set up as places of purchase. They are envisioned more as exhibition spaces where people can learn more about the brand and the products. If you choose to go this way, it is absolutely essential that your shop visitors find out how and where they can purchase your products. It might also be a good idea to give out discounts and special deals for people who register and/or purchase something on the same day they visited your shop.
If you decide to actually sell your products in your pop-up shop, you can make this more attractive by sending out e-coupons and giving your most loyal online customers great deals. This will send brand loyalty and customer retention through the roof.
Another way in which you can use your pop-up shop is as a place where your online shoppers can return or exchange their products if they are not what they expected. This is an increasingly important part of the multi-channel ecommerce experience and, while you are already there, why not enable them to do so?
A smart ecommerce business owner will also take the opportunity to interview shop visitors about the online shopping experiences they have on your website. People are far more likely to open up in person (to a pleasant, smiling shop attendant) than in an online questionnaire and you will be able to get some truly fantastic insights this way.
Setting up and executing an ecommerce pop-up shop that will be in perfect harmony with your existing website is not an easy task. There are many things to take care of, but in the end, all the effort you put in will be more than worth it.