Why Pop-up Shops Are the Mortar to Your E-Commerce Bricks
One of the key takeaways from early June’s Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition is that B2B e-commerce is on the rise. Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce is well-established, but business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce has taken longer to gain a foothold. But no more. In fact, Forrester research expects that by 2021, the US B2B e-commerce market to be worth $1.2 trillion — twice the size of the US B2C e-commerce market. What’s driving this impressive growth? The appeal of cost savings for sellers and convenience for buyers. And for the retail segment, one quite accustomed to reaching consumers through digital means, they will be increasingly interacting with their vendors this way too.
B2B buyers are used to receiving marketing messages via social media, paid advertising, email, content syndication and other digital tools and techniques. And increasingly they are purchasing through those digital channels as well. Though digital marketing and buying channels have delivered advantages to B2C for some time, there have been challenges too. And those challenges will apply to B2B sellers as well as they take advantage of e-commerce. So, when interactions become more digitally-focused, it’s time to shake it up and add some experimentation and personal touch into the mix. Here’s where pop-ups come in.
A “pop-up shop” is a short-term, temporary retail event that is “here today, gone tomorrow”. Pop-ups temporarily use physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. Sounds like an experience that any great event marketer would execute, no? They are growing and thriving as both a marketing and sales channel because pop-ups offer a more personal, unique and fun experience to customers. And with the self-service model of any e-commerce sales channel, businesses must innovate with new ways to engage their customer to stay competitive.
In addition to the fun and the FOMO factors, key characteristics of a successful popup include:
- The linking of brand identities – the pop-up shop with the host location or co-branded product
- Reaching a prior hard-to-reach audience through the temporary location
- Bringing the tangible to the conceptual
When Salesforce purchased Demandware, a premier e-commerce platform provider to supplement their capabilities in their Commerce Cloud, Salesforce brought the multi-channel retail experience live to the Dreamforce show floor. Not only could Salesforce customers experience the Demandware product live, but they could experience it both as a merchant and as a consumer by visiting the Vineyard Vines pop-store on the exhibition hall floor in the Commerce Cloud area and purchasing the latest in Edgartown-appropriate apparel. Salesforce brought the tangible buying experience to the intangible of software, and as always, incorporated a sense of young, hip and fun into the Dreamforce experience.
At Paris Fashion Week last Fall Pantone, the global brand for universal color reference, partnered with L’Eclair de Genie to establish the Pantone CafÃ© in Paris’ Jardin des Tuileries. The concept enabled visitors to experience “synaesthesia” by “tasting” the Pantone colors through the delicious foods of Christophe Adam. The location of the pop-up was key to reach the fashion industry, key consumers of the Pantone products, in an inspiring and memorable way. And the brand partnership was key – the “Flash of Genius” pastry chef and the global standard for color delivering a fresh product and look, highly valued by this audience. This pop-up was also perfect fodder for social media with its fresh, clear colors and highly photogenic clientele. What a way to amplify a brand!
SXSW is the ultimate pop-up experience. This incredibly diverse conference, festival, and community of creative combustion which convenes in Austin, Texas every Spring is the ultimate in pop-up assemblies. Both B2B and B2C brands convene there to promote new products, test market, engage with customers and prospects, and get a pulse on the new and now. Since there is nowhere close to enough dedicated space to accommodate all the brands who want to be there, there’s a lot of very creative work that goes into the pop-up event experience.
Pop-ups can be used in a different way. They may serve as a hybrid for businesses looking to ease their way into a new niche while minimizing potential losses, according to Storefront. There is no required investment in either a large brick and mortar store, nor significant e-commerce site. This is true whether the business is selling to other businesses or to direct to consumer. This means that there is a great opportunity to test market with either new products or to new customer segments, getting feedback to iterate and refine. A couple of options for location are either at industry trade shows (yes, expo booths are the original popup!) or at a distribution partner’s site.
Dealertrack is an example of one brand who takes full advantage of the expo pop-up opportunity. They exhibit at the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) Expo Connect Conference, which attracts 22,000 attendees annually. Dealertrack took what could have been strictly a “demo and lead-scan” expo hall and turned it into their own pop-up sales show floor, allowing the Dealertrack sales teams to connect directly with their customers through product demos and meetings during the show. Through a carefully designed booth layout and supporting technology solutions, they were able to create an integrated offline and personal experience with prospects and customers to accelerate sales.
So with your next campaign, along with the ebook, email, webinar, programmatic tactics, and ads, think about how you can add a pop-up to the mix to make it personal and bring your brand experience to life for your customers.