I doubt I’ll ever forget my first encounter with a pop up retail shop. Old Navy was celebrating the launch of its new denim line, smack in the middle of Boston’s congested Faneuil Hall. A media cosponsor, DJ, icy basil lemonade, free makeup samples, celebrity stylists on hand—calling it a pop up event feels like a gross understatement. This was a true retail experience, and a lucrative one at that. I needed three pairs of those jeans, stat.
And just like that, a brand I once associated with painful back-to-school shopping trips featuring trashed fitting rooms and screaming kids suddenly felt so trendy, so upscale. All it took was a fresh setup outside of its four walls, a little music, and a lot of buzz.
And, ok, the complimentary refreshments and fashion blogger with half a million followers telling me how great I looked didn’t hurt either.
Since then, pop up shops and experiences have become a dime a dozen, being used as platforms for brand awareness, product launches, cross-promotional collaborations, ecommerce testing grounds, and more. BLENDS—one of LA’s most talked about shoe stores—is no stranger to pop ups; they’ve become a frequent tool for the multi-channel retailer's product launches and collaborations, and never fail to draw a crowd; last month's celebration of a new PUMA style's release led to the shoe being sold out within five minutes of opening.
But this month’s Championship Shop, a pop up event co-hosted by Nike and Top Dawg Entertainment (read: Kendrick Lamar), takes the cake as their biggest yet. The exclusive apparel sold out long before that line down the street and around two corners made it through the doors. See for yourself:
While a surplus of foot traffic (1500 people on Day 1 alone!) is undoubtedly a nice bonus, it’s the brand awareness and buzz that makes these partnerships and events so worth it for BLENDS. They don't play this game only for a few days of extra sales; it's about creating a lasting impression and repeat customers.
“The motivation was brand awareness,” says Sergio Flores, General Manager of their five brick-and-mortar locations. “We try so hard to differentiate ourselves from others in the market and create a customer experience, most people can shop these brands online without having to get the product from us. We have to think outside the box.”
But there’s a fine line between creativity and gimicky. Putting a quarter of a million dollars behind any experience like this is worth nothing if it doesn’t resonate with your customers, no matter how flashy it sounds. “You have to stay true to your brand and storytelling,” says Sergio. It’s something they considered deeply when choosing to work with Nike and TDE. "If you’re going to team up with someone, you have to be very particular about who. It should be somebody that brings something new to the table, yet still continues to tell the story of you as a retailer.”
When done correctly, cross-promotional pop ups can pay off, and then some. “We never imagined the amount of people who would come out.”
We’ve preached it before and we’ll preach it again: Creating a memorable customer experience is a non-negotiable when it comes to thriving in retail today. Investing in a pop up shop can do just that, though not without the right retail tools. Sergio and his team used Springboard Retail not only as a point of sale, but for all of their inventory management needs. “Because it’s cloud-based, we could receive everything into a separate logistical location, and we can restock and reorder from there.”
Springboard Retail allows retailers to scale up or down seamlessly, so with 30% more staff on hand for the event, not to mention the 1500 daily customers, BLENDS added additional temporary POS stations that kept the line moving. To save time and streamline the checkout process, they used the CRM functionality to collect addresses and email all receipts. “We didn’t want to have to do any paper printing, and that was a huge help.”
Like our friends at Wendell August Forge, BLENDS wasn't about to shut down its additional locations during the short-term event in DTLA, but they couldn't be ignored either. The cloud-based mobile system allowed management to keep an eye on sales and inventory across the business with its real time dashboards and reporting.
Since the Championship Shop has closed its doors, the BLENDS team has been using their inventory tools and sales reports to evaluate how much was sold, what they can reorder, and how to plan for future events. We can’t wait to see what's in store next. Literally.
Video and image courtesy of BLENDS
Topics: Our Customers