Ask the experts – how do I integrate e-commerce with my pop-up (and vice versa?)

Hundreds of businesses are using pop-ups as a way of building their brand in a physical space having already established a successful online presence. Likewise, many creative projects start with a pop-up, testing the market for their product before creating an e-commerce site that reflects their brand identity.

We Are Pop Up spoke to Alex O’Byrne, Shopify expert and Director of We Make Websites, to get the lowdown on everything you need to know about creating a coherent brand presence across your website and pop-up. If you’re making the move from online-to-offline, or even vice versa, here you can learn how to achieve success both online and in the real world.

What can you learn when making the transition from online store to pop-up? (or indeed vice versa?)

In a pop-up environment you can actually talk to your customers and gather their praise, feedback and suggestions.

This will help you figure out what exactly it is that people like about your products which is essential information – this is what you build the brand around. You’ll typically find that this isn’t as you first expected, so this set is essential. It’s hard to do online, which is why it’s worth trying to sell what your product directly to someone by doing a pop-up.

Once you know what it is that people value about your product, you can improve your website photography and copy to convey this message better.

We can do a lot to make a website convert well but if the product offering is no good it’s not going to make a difference.

Going the other way, from online store to pop-up, you should use your online channels to make sure your audience knows about your pop-up well in advance and also whilst it’s on. This is a brilliant opportunity to meet your online following in person and find out who your customers are.

Use sales data from your online store to work out what your most popular items are and make sure these are stocked in your pop-up. Similarly, think about what people tend to buy together so you can recommend this when they are in your pop-up.

Which is better – Big Bang launch or soft launch?

Cop out answer – both have their uses. Use the soft launch to test out the website and ask family, friends and advisors to try it out. Ask 5 people to use it and you’ll gather most of the feedback you need.

Then once everything is running smoothly, go for the big bang. The biggest bang is usually from a coordinated PR campaign, our client Negative Underwear received 100 orders on their first day due to the press coverage they were able to arrange for their launch. You don’t want this happening on the actual day your site goes live, when no doubt there’ll be teething issues and feedback you want to action, so ensure there’s ample time to fix issues between the soft and hard launch.

With that said, you need to build a growth machine that consistently generates more interest and customers so either way it’s a long game. Building a business that is inherently ‘viral’ is powerful because customers will recommend you to others and this is the easiest way to grow. Outstanding customer service and product quality is the first step towards this.

How can I make sure my pop-up and my website both reflect my brand identity in a coherent way?

Your branding should be consistent and uniquely you, everywhere.

Branding should be consistent at every point of the way – whether that’s your email campaigns, your website branding, how people dress in your shop, the merchandising in your shop, your order update notifications, your email addresses, where your shop is, your business card design, your social profiles, the style of your photography, your copy tone of voice etc…. I’m fond of the saying ‘the only business is the marketing business’, this I take to mean that firstly, everything you do that a customer sees is part of the marketing of your brand and secondly, without a solid marketing strategy and execution there is no business.

The pop-up should not jar with the website or vice versa. So ensure typography, colours and other brand elements are consistent between the two.


How do I make sure my products come across well both in the shop and online?

Photography is key online. ‘Lifestyle’ photography where you show your product in use is useful to see and can be inspirational to the customer. This is where the concept of a fashion lookbook comes from. Product photography is important for showing product detail. The product page is where people make the final decision to buy so this needs to provide as much information as possible.

In store, have a think about how you can merchandise your items to be more appealing. How can you be innovative so that products are shown to their full potential?

We’re working with Mo:vel who just opened a store in Brighton and were able to do some interesting things with their store design such as making sure that every size of trainer is available from the shelf, without the need for someone to go off into the storeroom and take ages checking and finding the right sizes. Innovative young brands are naturals at this type of fresh thinking, so make the most of it!

How do I make my products stand out and create my brand story?

The first question is to find out what makes you unique. This could be a story, a particular audience you have, the way something is made, where it is made, who makes it, a lifestyle that goes with the product, a particular set of advocates you have, the materials you use, the design quality or what you stand for.

I’d try and answer the following to build your pitch, these were passed on to me by my friend Annik, who runs the public speaking club Pony Express:

  • What problem are you solving?
  • Why you and not someone else?
  • How do you do it?
  • How will their life be better?
  • Call to action

An edited version of this can be used for your elevator pitch, homepage copy and twitter profile. Again, these should all be consistent so we aren’t confused about what you do.

The brand story should be honest, interesting and refreshing. Some that comes to mind are Hiut Denim, who brought back jean manufacture to a small town in Wales, NastyGal who are now massive but started off with are fresh attitude selling vintage clothes that appealed to young smart women, and Warby Parker, who have made designer glasses more affordable and have a socially conscious vibe built in to their brand.

The most common mistake I see is not making the brand story niche enough, or potent enough. My theory is the stronger the niche, the more people you put off but the more people know they’ve found the right company when they find you. For example Nastygal appeals to a particular type of savvy, stylish young woman, and will be of no interest to most other demographics. This makes them magnetic to that audience. Who is your audience? And how do you become magnetic to them? Answering this is very helpful when it comes to marketing strategy as it will help determine where to market your brand and what content to use.

What can I learn from my site about my customers that might be useful for my pop-up? And is there anything I should track on my site during or after the pop-up?

In Google Analytics you can see the location of your customers, it might be interesting to see how many are in your local area. In Shopify and most other ecommerce platforms you can download your customer list – you could then also segment based on which are local and offer them some sort of treat for dropping in.

Another use for analytics would be to see which products are your bestsellers – make sure you have these available in your pop-up!

Tracking customers between online and offline is notoriously difficult but one thing you could do is ask how customers found out about you during your checkout process and make this a mandatory field. I know it’s not great to add another field but this information is invaluable so we can make an exception. To grow, put more time and money into wherever customers are finding you.


How do I generate repeat business on my website and beyond my pop-up?

The easiest thing to do is get the first order right, this means delivering the goods as expected and on time.

Improve on this with some innovative packing, or by including free samples or a discount code for the customer’s next order. Handwriting thank you notes can be a nice touch in the early days when you don’t have huge order volumes.

Email mailing lists are gold – use yours when you need to generate interest such as during sale or when you have a new collection.

Consider segmenting your list, for example by finding your 100 most loyal customers and emailing them a special discount code to say thank you.

To get more advanced, email remarketing is getting cheaper and easier to implement every year and has huge conversion rates. We’ve been looking at Emma and Soundest recently, both integrate tightly with Shopify and allow you to send targeted emails to your customers, sometimes automatically.

Any other top tips for our pop-up community?

Use Shopify’s digital Point of Sale (POS) to allow you to gather an email address with each order. It’s only a partial POS in the UK though so you’ll still need a PDQ machine to take card payments.

If you don’t want to do that – take a clipboard and ask customers and interested passers by for an email address. As I keep saying, email lists are gold in ecommerce. The customer Lifetime Value (LTV) of an email address can be huge.

Related to that, I’m a fan of adding a mailing list pop-up or drop down window to gather emails on a daily basis from your website traffic.

For improving your website, I’d also say that you should watch five people using it and gather their feedback.

Speaking generally – don’t give up, perseverance is important when you run a business because you’re going to face ups and downs.

With companies like We Are Pop Up and Shopify helping startups and growing retailers, there’s never been a better time to start and grow a retail business so let’s get to it!

We Make Websites build beautiful and effective online stores for creative retail companies. You can view recent case studies here. Follow them on Twitter for daily e-commerce advice.

Ready to launch your own pop-up with this advice? Check out hundreds of spaces available for your project on wearepopup.com.

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