The power of the pop-up: How to capitalise on the retail trend

Food & Drink | How To | Retail

By Konrad Kelling, Managing Director, Barclaycard Payment Solutions

In the last few years, we have seen a trend towards brands launching temporary pop-ups to provide an alternative and lucrative stream of revenue, as well as offering direct interaction with consumers in new locations. So how can brands maximise the power of the pop-up?

From online to offline

Traditionally, we’ve seen merchants move from bricks and mortar to e-commerce – but now we’re also seeing the reverse. Barclaycard customer Pleesecakes is one business following this route. The brand started its business solely online initially marketing through Instagram, but now sells its products at numerous pop-up events throughout the year. Founded in 2017 and having appeared on the popular BBC2 show ‘Dragon’s Den’, the inventive cheesecake start-up has made pop-up shops a cornerstone of its business strategy.

With so many different pop-up events available to consumers throughout the year, the challenge for brands is how to set themselves apart from the crowd. For Pleesecakes, the value has been in reaching a wider audience than it was able to communicate with online or via its social channels.

Given the aesthetically pleasing look of the products and the innovative flavour combinations, Pleesecakes also found that face-to-face interaction with customers allowed for an experiential opportunity – something that just wasn’t possible when selling directly online. This year, the brand experimented with a ‘build your own cheesecake’ concept at British Summer Time in Hyde Park.

The pop-up economy

Creating a winning customer experience is important but these types of events have also shown to deliver to a business’s bottom line. Research shows that Brits expected to spend over £1.2 billion* at festival pop-up stalls this year – on everything from food and drink, to clothes and merchandise.

When deciding where to spend their money, four in ten (41 per cent) Brits say they feel more connected to the products they buy at a live entertainment event, over those available on the high street or online – making this a real commercial opportunity for merchants.

Trial and error

It’s not just about turning a profit or about creating meaningful engagements with customers. Events and experiential activations allow businesses to try out new ideas and products on a large number of potential customers. Our research found that eight in ten consumers look out for unique products, and the majority are looking for an experience when they shop.

For a business that initially started online, Pleesecakes is an example of a brand that has diversified where it offers its products to physically engage with its customers, allowing for real-time feedback. More than 80 per cent of festival merchants found live entertainment venues the ideal place to test new products and ideas, with over half having trialled products that they later rolled out in-store or online.

A consistent customer experience

It’s clear that pop-ups and events can create additional revenue opportunities for your business but ensuring you have the right technology in place to make the payment process seamless and frictionless is crucial. This is just as important in a temporary setting as it is for your online offering or permanent stores. Otherwise, your potential customers will quickly become disengaged and abandon their purchase.

The pop-up economy allows brands to trial new products, build customer loyalty through deeper engagement and open up new revenue streams, but only if the experience that consumers expect is consistent and meaningful.

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