What to Know Before You Say Yes to a Pop-Up Partner

Hosting a pop-up can boost foot traffic and keep customers in your store longer — if you choose the right one.
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Before hosting a pop-up, first ensure that the brand's products and services fit with your customers' needs. (Photo: M Lim/Flickr)

Wherever consumers shop these days, they’re often engaging with a pop-up, a retail experience in which a brand creates a presence inside a retail store or other venue to market products or services for a limited time.

For a retail store owner, hosting a pop-up promises an opportunity to lure new consumers, engage more deeply with customers and entice shoppers to stay longer in the store.

Thinking of hosting a pop-up in your store? It sounds like a win-win, given that the pop-up operator pays for the space and may even pony up a percentage of the proceeds. But there’s work to be done before welcoming that pop-up in.

Consider these questions.

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“With a pop-up, you have lots of uncertainty, but if the goals and plans are aligned, it could be great co-branding for all businesses.” -Beth Silver (Photo: Beth Silver)

Are the products or services a good fit your customers? Any brand you partner with should complement your business, said Beth Silver, managing director of Doubet Consulting, a New York management and marketing consulting firm. The products or services on offer should be a natural fit for your customer base.

Even if the two brands have different target audiences, there can still be great synergy, said Silver. “They may see that despite different customer bases they are able to break through the clutter. The staff may really enjoy working together and then cross sell.”

Is the brand ready for prime time? “Retailers should only partner with pop-ups who are prepared and ready to go,” said Silver. “The last thing a retailer wants is for their loyal customer to be upset with an experience in their pop-up.”

She recommended shop owners investigate a potential partner’s experience with operating a pop-up. “If you believe a pop-up retailer is not yet ready, ask them to come back when their plan is a bit clearer.”

Will they play nicely with your staff? Is the pop-up operator and any staff he or she might bring a good fit personality-wise for you and your staff? It’s an important question, said Silver. “Every store has their own staff, but when working together, everyone needs to respect each other’s brands. Everyone has to play nicely.”

How to pull off a successful partnership

Once you’ve identified a potential partner, delve into the specifics of the partnership.

“For example, will you be sharing customer data? Will the pop-up’s staff constantly ask visitors if they need help? It’s vital that everything be clear, from customer interaction to staff training, hours and who is responsible for what,” Silver said, adding, “A great partnership gives a customer a positive experience in both the retail and pop areas.”

Evaluate needs such as floor space, and establish an operating schedule that takes advantage of store traffic patterns. For instance, there’s no reason to do a pop-up at 9:30 a.m. if a store’s traffic rush tends to be in the afternoon.

Partners must also work collaboratively on marketing the pop-up to a consumer base that works for both brands. “Retailers often love having the additional short term income and potential traffic,” said Silver, “but once the thought becomes reality, it’s often not the same customers they were looking for,” she said.

If the conditions are right, hosting a pop-up can be a smart business move.

“With a pop-up, you have lots of uncertainty, but if the goals and plans are aligned, it could be great co-branding for all businesses. One of my clients loves utilizing other brands in her business. She loves showing her clients how different products can be used together. That’s the goal of a pop-up and a retailer. The focus, for both partners, is ‘how can we make the shopping or customer experience better and more memorable?’”

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