Welcome To The Future Of Retail – Part 3

In previous posts we have highlighted some of the recent changes to bricks-and-mortar landscape: increasing vacancy rates, reduced consumer spending and lower footfall.These trends are contributing to the rise of short-term “pop-up” retail both in the UK and internationally. However, We Are Pop Up also think this is the beginning of a structural change in the way we use space, rather than just an economic cycle which will fade in time.

Some of the social and technological forces that are changing consumer activity will have profound consequences for both shop space and brands, and offer a great opportunity for those that can capture the imagination of a new audience. For facts and figures about the Rise Of The Mobile Audience, see our overview here.

MAKING YOUR STORE YOUR STAGE


There are an increasing number of retailers seeking to enhance engagement, from Levi’s Craft Of Music campaign, to Westfield’s Future Fashion events, exciting fashion start-ups like TheEdit @wearetheco and the Vogue-sponsored Fashion Night Out across London’s West End. Even pure-play online retailers like Capital One or eBay are increasingly experimenting with physical spaces and pop-ups to build engagement.

It may seem obvious, but physical engagement with a brand or community or product is the core advantage that a ‘shop’ – or increasingly ‘pop-up’ – enjoys over an online experience.  Mobile computing is an agent in this physical to digital (or vise versa) journey.

The number of ways in which we can participate in a shopping experience is multiplying. We can share our experiences with our social media audience and are provided with digitally enhanced forms of service in-store. Just see how John Lewis bridges this gap with digital kiosks and incentives that cross platforms. For a new generation of retail, these steps are the key to engagement and profitable loyalty.

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Hot Tub Cinema – a traveling theater and hot tub experience in London.

How To Engage In The Digital Age

It is estimated that the Vogue Fashion Night Out, for instance, increased footfall across Bond Street by a remarkable 92% – and a recent conversation with Caireen Wackett at Yellow Door reminded me what Mary Portas said back in September 2011:

“The only way for bricks and mortar retailers to compete with online is brilliant real life shopping experiences. Retail is no longer about number of units on the shop floor – it’s about offering a playground for your customers. Throwing big exciting events is one way to draw a crowd – but I believe the High Street should invest in better experiences for their customers every day.”

Big exciting events – the “theatre” of the retail world – don’t scale particularly well on the marketing and PR budget line. But mobile is a channel that can deliver personalized and exciting engagement everyday (remembering the late Steve Jobs’ caveat to “start with the experience, then work back to the technology”). A solution that can combine someone’s recent search history and preferences, the time of day, a particular location or even the last thing they bought, opens up the potential for far more nuanced and meaningful business-to-consumer journeys.

This more nuanced engagement delivers a more ‘authentic’ experience that all parts of the retail spectrum are currently seeking; from a start-up’s first steps into retail – like those working with Pop Up Britain – or an online retailer taking seasonal space, and even fully fledged independents and brands. A new generation of retailers is thinking not only about what they can provide to augment our lives, but also what kind of self-contained experience might captivate us most meaningfully. This indicates an exciting move away from old advertising models that told us what we wanted, and instead is built around what we actually do and care about.

Deloit predicts that over the long-term we will see a significant downsizing of store portfolios:
“This will vary markedly depending on the retailer’s category but reductions by as much as 30-40% are foreseeable over the next 3-5 years.” However some retailers, notably Apple and Nike, have led the way by showing that brand only stores can deliver great customer experience and provide a physical corner-stone to their consumer engagement. As vacant retail space grows more and more flexible, it is only a matter of time before the capacity and liquidity problems in the market are resolved. We can imagine a platform where all retailers have the opportunity to create active digital communities around the physical in-store experience, however short-term or permanent their presence.

This is where We Are Pop Up can play a vital role – enabling great physical experiences, reducing transaction costs and making the process of having a shop as easy as paying for a product online using PayPal.

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Kellogg’s Ran A ‘Pay With A Tweet’ Campaign at a Soho, London shop in 2013

The CBRE (the world’s largest commercial real estate firm) observed that in the 1970’s, a retailer needed approximately 200 stores to access 50% of the UK’s population. Today it only needs 90 – sometimes less (assuming, of course, they are optimally located). Let us stretch the theatre analogy further to that of a traveling troupe – how many stores are required globally, over what locations and which time periods, to make sure a significant percentage of the world’s population enjoys your show?

I was recently asked to attended a meeting of the Small Business Statistics group at No. 10, hosted and chaired by Lord Young. The group was discussing the fragmentation of parts of the economy as an increasing amount of trade is transacted by e-commerce platforms like Ebay – and what challenges that this poses for measuring activity and productivity – in the first recession in living memory where unemployment has gone down! The conversations in the room were enthusiastic, and focused on new ways to transact and how to make the most of current market shifts.

Capturing mobile audiences represents an unparalleled opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailers. From start-ups to independents to brands – those that embrace mobile platforms in an intelligent and timely manner have the chance to create and sustain real competitive advantage.

Perhaps with the rise of the mobile audience are we about to see the rise of mobile retail itself.


Further Reading

The Changing Face of Retail – Deloit

M-shopping: Final nail or final hope for the High Street? – Sponge

Other parts of our Future Of Retail installments


This post kicks off a weekly series where each of We Are Pop Up’s team members will take a turn applying their expertise to the concept of pop-up. This week features Alastair Moore – COO and Co-Founder of We Are Pop Up. You can ask him questions on Twitter @latticecut.

The Rise Of The Mobile Audience

Eric Schmidt of Google said, “If your company doesn’t have a mobile strategy, it doesn’t have a strategy.” This is a prescient observation but one that really rang true this year as London played host to the 2012 Olympic Games. Among the 430 million visits to Lonond2012.com, the 4.7 billion page views and 4.7 million social follows, the number that stands out is that 60% of this occurred from mobile devices. To visualise the growth rate of smart phone adoption and use, here’s a chart:

The Rise Of The Mobile Audience

Figure 1. Smartphone penetration per capita by country. Source: VisionMobile


If charts aren’t you’re thing, here’s a summary: The US and UK have the most engaged smart phone users, which comprise between 30% – 40% of people in either given country. In real numbers, over 150 million people in America and 24 million in the UK download roughly 20 apps-per-phone today. Some reports indicate that over half of UK residents now have smart-phones, which would make that 24 million closer to 35 million. The challenges of data accuracy aside, the point is that this rise in the mobile audience undoubtedly influences our retail spending behaviour. Online sales now represent around 12% of the UK’s annual retail spend. Research by Barclays Corporate in 2011 predicts that mobile will come to represent around 5% of retail spending in the UK by 2020. Between now and 2016, they predict compound annual growth of 55% for mobile-based commerce (mCommerce) vs 8% for eCommerce (shorthand for online sales) and just 1.6% for in-store sales. But the attention of new mobile audiences is still notoriously difficult to capture.

Around 80% of branded apps get less than 1,000 downloads – and its very far from the simple case of replacing the online desktop experience. To quote Matt Biddulph @mattb, co-founder of Doppler, “mobile gives everyone superpowers!” Its always with us, and there are signals, and more signals, AND MORE SIGNALS telling us about what’s happening in the world. We can see what’s around the corner in the same feed next to what’s happening in Mumbai. And with a couple clicks we can see both points on a map, and chart a journey via bus. Mobile allows us to see, find, explore, share and transact in ways that we simply couldn’t previously: faster, with better curation and with limitless connections to like-content.

More on this later, but anecdotally, this week heralded my first time paying at an US coffee shop where the only pos system was an iPad using Square! Mobile has arrived.

LIVING IN THE AGE OF ENGAGEMENT

In 2000, £50 out of every £100 we spent went to High Street retailers. Today, it’s just £42.50. But mobile isn’t about replacing a pound for a pound, and it is one of the “channels” by which customers and retailers engage. Deloitte estimate that for every £1 of purchases made via mobile, the channel will directly influence £23 of spend. The challenge is finding the best ways to influence a mobile audience.

I was inspired by a recent talk by Alex Meisl, co-founder of Sponge at the Mobile Academy about living in the “age of engagement”. I found the following statistics particularly engaging:

– 81% of smart-phone users search for local data

– 34% of US smart phone users have cancelled planned purchase in stores due to information they got from their mobile phone;

– 25% claim to intentionally carry a smart phone when shopping to compare prices and find information (an activity commonly referred to as “showrooming”);

– 46% say research conducted on their phone led them to make a specific purchase at specific store.

Where previously a retailer would have had us captive once we crossed the threshold of a shop, now they are in constant competition for our attention –  locally, nationally and globally – an observation that Simon Forster of Debenhams described in June 2012 as “effectively heralding the end of online versus in-store shopping”. It is not about which of those you are, but how soon you will be both – something that the UK’s 150k online-only retailers should take note of.

So what do people currently do on mobiles? Here is another chart. This one shows a recent breakdown of behaviours from Google:


Figure 2. User journeys from discovery to purchase. Source: thinkwithgoogle.com

Understanding this complicated journey of conversion is not only the key to understanding mobile – and channel conversion – its key to understanding the changing role of bricks-and-mortar.

Notice that 4 out of 6 journeys involve the physical store in relation to mobile. The temporal aspects of this engagement are also important, but not captured by the figure. For example, there is the immediacy of mobile, as Ashley Highfield @ashleyhi observers: “On average, the time difference between first search and purchase is one month on the web and one hour on mobile”.

However the main point is that the biggest opportunity lies in leveraging mobile AND the physical store AND online to shape the overall shopper journey.

The potential of journey and engagement was highlight at a presentation from Hellicar & Lewis  that I attended recently at WhiteLable’s Future Gallery. They gave some wonderful examples of how people are willing to interact with different digital installations to enhance the emotional and social aspects of engagement. And it is the role of social advocacy and endorsement that is critical to the journey of conversion.

Unsurprisingly, Amazon research shows that 83% of us won’t buy having been exposed to critical comments. But much more interestingly, their research also found that 75% of us are unlikely to buy if there are no reviews.

Only one journey in the figure above ends in an in-store sale – but bricks-and-mortar plays a critical role in creating a platform for engagement to support discovery.

This is part of an ongoing series on The Future Of Retail. You can read the continuation of this supporting data here.

Pop up shop interview: A Monozygotic Temple

We first met Tida and Lisa Finch via their entry for the BOXPARK Shoreditch “Free Pop-up Competition”. Their great photographs and unique jewelry were eye-catching at first sight. Now, about a month into their free winter pop-up, we paid Tida a visit at Finchittida Finch HQ. We are very pleased to (re)announce our pop-up shop interview:

Finchittida Finch at BOXPARK Shoreditch

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For all of us over here at We Are Pop Up HQ, it was very exciting to have a chance to spend some time with one of the very first businesses that we put into a shop. In support of the forward-thinking team at BOXPARK (@BOXPARK) we were able to give an excellent opportunity to a great brand. For Finchittida Finch (@FINCHITTIDA) Unit 7 at BOXPARK Shoreditch is the first physical space to host their line of jewelry and home wares. Tida happily shared her enthusiasm about their pop-up, so we started by discussing some of the best aspects of setting up a brand as a destination and what it’s like to be at BOXPARK.

Finchittida Finch seems to be right at home. Tida told us, “We love it, we feel like it’s our HQ. Being in Shoreditch is great and the East London line has just opened, so travel is easy.” And some of their online customers have come to visit as well, “when we had our launch party, a few customers came especially to meet us and check out our products in real life. It was really great to meet them. This shop has given us the opportunity to extend our brand and products to people who just walk by. And sharing BOXPARK’s newsletter announcements with our social media networks has been really valuable. BOXPARK has been supportive and quite a lot of people have come in from their announcements alone.”

Their winter pop-up, titled The Monozygotic Temple, has offered Finchittida Finch a new way of getting to know customers – by watching them relate and respond to their products in front of their eyes. By running the shop themselves, they have had the opportunity to answer questions, monitor their demographic and request customer feedback quickly.

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Even though they had cause to worry with the forecast of a post-Christmas slump, sales have been going well. Tida explained, “because our products are really affordable and unique it hasn’t been a problem. We have learned a lot from watching people in the shop; most are shocked at the massive [necklaces], and say  ’I love them but I couldn’t wear them.’ ” Nevertheless, the large works are intricate and beautiful, ideal for costume designers and those looking for a striking addition to their collection.

We asked whether the feedback had changed the production line at all, “It’s really important to keep the balance. The larger-scale products grab attention, but the smaller ones are affordable and fit with a variety of styles. We’ve learned a lot about how to balance our line and have realized that we need to offer a real range with every collection. This has been the kind of learning we couldn’t have achieved without being in a shop near our customers.”

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Tida and Lisa are a two person team, coordinating everything from the laser-cutting of their jewelry to promotion, as well as managing their social media accounts, running the shop, doing admin and providing customer service to both their online and offline customers. And they just recently graduated from university.

Keeping both an online and offline presence in harmony and thriving is something that even the most established and stable brands have trouble with. Tida’s solution for Finchittida Finch is to find great stockists in the UK and internationally that can help get their designs more widely distributed, while also using pop-ups to connect to new parts of London.

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“It’s been hard work, but absolutely worth it and introduced us to pop-ups. Before I never would have wanted to take a shop. But because of this opportunity, we’ve really got a taste for it.”

For us at We Are Pop Up, visualizing Finchittida Finch at BOXPARK didn’t take much effort. Their name alone was intriguing, their story unique, their products innovative and it is obvious that they care deeply about what they make – from design to development. We always feel fortunate for the opportunity to connect with the people behind an innovative brand that also manage to triumph an entrepreneurial spirit. Lisa and Tida are an inspiring duo – sticking to their roots and making their vision real.

You can find Finchittida Finch on their website, their blog, and the ASOS marketplace. And connect to them on Facebook and Twitter @FINCHITTIDA.

You can also read their December feature as one of BOXPARK’s X-mas staff pick features.

Announcing the Winners of the BOXPARK + WE ARE POP UP Competition…

London Loves LA

Launching the competition 9th November, BOXPARK Pop Up mall joined forces with We Are Pop Up to offer a FREE shop for three months over the holidays! Creatives, designers, cooks, artists, and business owners were invited to submit their concept for the chance to win a free unit set to run from 1st December to the 28th February. Having received well over 100 applications, the competition attracted a spectrum of ideas, and proved that having a retail space in the heart of East London is an incredible opportunity.
As a bespoke online boutique dedicated to delivering hand-picked, high quality American Vintage, BOXPARK are excited to announce London Loves LA as the winner of a free pop up unit! Created by two sisters, Sophie and Ella Berman incorporate the nostalgia of a road trip wrapped up in teenage excitement and friendship with girly yet grungy, 90’s Americana vintage selections directly from LA.

Runners Up

In addition to the winner, BOXPARK are pleased to announce two runners-up in the competition, and each will receive a free unit for the month of December. Selected are China Doll Boutique, creators of wearable, dainty, and feminine pieces with a whimsical feel, and Finchittida Finch, distinctive designs, made in London, inspired by Laos.

The Gingerline : Review

This week’s post is a guest feature by Sohaib Siddique.

Gingerline HQ – London’s Hidden Gem

The Gingerline gives you a deep, disguised, and hidden overground dining experience on the East London line. If you happen to be on the train which takes you from Highbury to Crystal Palace, then keep a look-out for people glancing to check the time every few minutes. As each station arrives and the train halts, you’ll find these curious faces explode with confusion, excitement, and curiosity at the same time.

For two years now, the mysterious Gingerline dine has been showing up at irregular destinations on the ginger line. The tube line is nicknamed as such because it’s orange on the Tube map. If you book a ticket with Gingerline HQ and stay somewhere close to one of the stations, you’ll get a text with directions at around 6pm. You’ll have one hour to get to the location before drinks are served.

The same concept was seen back in the 80’s, when rave culture was popular, late into the early mornings. DJs started playing shortly after the venue was revealed which allowed them to stay ahead of the police without getting caught. The same excitement has carried through to an exclusive dining experience, apart from the illicit details. You’ll be served with four courses of excellent indulgences, and the Gingerline delivers nothing short of spectacular. An evening of underground dining and theatrical entertainment promises not to disappoint.

Kerry Adamson is one of the original founders of the Gingerline. Her craving for big adventures was the inspiration behind the whole project. She believes that the secrecy involved with the Gingerline gives them the creative freedom to do what attracts guests the most. It’s not the usual wine and dine, but by taking away the ability to choose, guests are more excited. The open-mindedness has influenced the Gingerline team to incorporate designers, musicians, artists, and costumiers with the experience. Theatre productions are an extra addition to your quirky evening.

The first ever Gingerline was held in Crystal Palace. A folk singer, top hats, and a menu of coddled eggs and braised hogget shank was all that was needed to get things going. It was all rumours and whispers from there as the Gingerline’s unseen mystery started gaining popularity.

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Booking

If you’re not sold on the curiosity of the Gingerline alone, then there’s definitely something wrong. The tickets are released twice a month, available at www.gingerline.co.uk.  Prices vary depending on the type of production they are running—at the moment, it’s £50 per person. As for directions, all I can tell you is to stick to somewhere around the ginger line—and don’t forget to check your phone!

Author Bio

Sohaib is an adventure travel addict and is on a quest to check all of Europe off his ‘list’. He is currently in London, trying to find the capital’s hidden gems. When he isn’t around and about, you’ll find him writing for HotelClub, a website for booking hotels and more.

Pop up shop interview: Think Inside The BOXPARK

On November 9th 2012, we began taking entries for a competition we were hosting with BOXPARK. We had never seen a Tweet generate so much interest as:

“Enter to win 3 months FREE at BOXPARK! http://wearepopup.com/boxpark  via @wearepopup

As is clear by the number of great contestants submitting applications, BOXPARK  is an incredibly innovative place to be and an exciting challenge for brands and retailers. BOXPARK has opened up a powerful and valuable opportunity for an independent business – at no rental cost and proven to us that they are willing to mix things up and see what happens. We love that attitude, and were curious about what the current BOXPARK retailers had to say about life in a shipping container in Shoreditch, and what advice they had to give to someone about to move in.

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King from Thai And Lao Street Food (@THAIandLAO).

Thai and Lao Street Food, located on the upper deck in unit 53, started 12 years previously on Brick Lane serving honest and homemade food-to-order out of a van. Manager King explained that the restaurant has always been and will always remain a family-run, owned and managed business.

Thai and Lao Street Food moved into BOXPARK four months before and continues to uphold powerful tenets: keep it simple, focus on your product, and keep it fresh. Thai and Lao never pre-cooks anything, as King mentioned, “We get people who come in and expect us to already have food on the go, or just hand them something. We say, ‘there’s nothing to try until you order it!’ ” Whilst this style of food service might surprise some customers, it also helps expose new and unique attitudes to the local community.

King shared that being in the heart of Shoreditch has been encouraging, “the people are great – they know about food. We are surrounded by a mix of everything from artists to business owners. It’s young and fresh, and you really have everything in one place.” As we met with more BOXPARK businesses, King’s sentiment was echoed and proved itself as one of the keys to understanding exactly how BOXPARK Shoreditch operates.

Find Thai And Lao at BOXPARK even today, and connect with them on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

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Aleks from Abuze London (@abuzeldn).

Next, we met with Aleks, the owner and creative director from Abuze London, in Unit 35. We learned about Abuze London’s 10-year history, conceived by a group of friends as a way to turn their passion for graffiti and street-art into quality crafted clothing. Aleks explained, “we turned our life around to start this business. We were a large crew of graffiti writers and we came together to invest in a product.” Their shop at BOXPARK was the first physical location. And Aleks explained why, “It can be incredibly hard to find investment for designer brands that are managed by designers. It was a real struggle to get the investment together to take this space at BOXPARK… but now we are one of the top stores.”

Abuze London’s designs and artwork are heavily steeped in a history of London Street Art, and the traditions of stenciling, cut-out and spray paint could be traced throughout the shop’s fit-out. We asked if it was challenging to consider interior, physical space, having been dedicated to an online platform. Aleks replied, “Not really. We’re designers and artists, designing the space was easy. Some friends built our display units and we were lucky to be able to make the furniture and space exactly how we wanted it. The vision wasn’t the hard part… finding the money was the problem.”

Despite the extreme challenges associated with setting up shop for the first time, Abuze London was able to increase their sales and brand awareness with their physical space. When asked what advice he would give to a business moving into a physical space for the first time, Aleks replied, “It’s such a huge task. Be driven, and don’t take no for an answer. You’ll get knocked back, but you just have to take it and keep moving forward.”

Visit Abuze London’s online shop and connect on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Amanda from Original Penguin (@penguineurope) and FARAH Vintage (@farahvintage).

Amanda co-managed Original Penguin in Unit 11 and FARAH Vintage in Unit 12, curating their re-fits and product selection. For Amanda, Shoreditch provides the ideal opportunity to showcase vintage-inspired clothing with modern sensibilities. As Amanda explained, “a cool big brand doesn’t necessarily drive traffic to an area. The product and vibe are way more important. It’s about matching your environment well.”  While concepts like “price-point” and “targeting” are important, businesses succeed most by understanding the style and desires of the locale.

Developing a business around these ideas can be difficult, especially as customer and community trends may shift rapidly, or change altogether. With Original Penguin and FARAH, Amanda was able to use this to her advantage, and built into their BOXPARK strategy is an ever-changing interior. “It’s great, we can come in here late in an evening or on low-traffic days. Because the spaces are so compact, we can re-arrange and re-develop the space very quickly. Being small makes it easy to switch it all up.” This also creates opportunities for engagement – with every change comes community announcements and updates.

We asked Amanda why BOXPARK in particular seemed to stand-out as a destination, “It’s surrounded by creativity, and BOXPARK is very open to trying new things out.” We started to understand how adaptation and moving quickly is embedded at the core of BOXPARK, and why shipping containers in particular seemed such a simple way to facilitate these fundamental tenets.

Visit Original Penguin’s website and connect on Facebook and on Twitter.

Visit FARAH Vintage’s website and connect on Facebook and on Twitter

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Ross Thompson from PUMA Twentyone (@puma).

We took an opportunity to do an old-fashioned Q&A with Ross with great results.

What is your position at PUMA, and what would we find at PUMA’s BOXPARK shop?

My position is Head of Retail for Capitalize Ltd, and we operate the PUMA Twentyone store at Boxpark.  Built around the Boxpark store unit number 21, PUMA Twentyone will see stock refreshed every 21 days and promotions taking place at 21 day intervals.  The concept is illustrated in-store with a menu and countdown board at the entrance, which lists the 21 special and limited editions footwear styles currently available and when new stock arrives.

What is the primary advantage of being a pop-up?

Retailing from a shipping container is a unique concept and it gives businesses the opportunity to display their products in an unusual way.  High streets throughout the UK are all very similar and it is important to have something new and exciting for customers to see.  These are key offers of pop-up.

What are some of the best aspects of being at BOXPARK?

It is interesting seeing how other brands showcase themselves, and to be successful the store has to continue to be exciting to customers.  Being amongst brands who are all trying different ways to appeal to customers promotes a healthy rivalry and pushes each retailer to show their best side.

What are the advantages of being in Shoreditch?

Shoreditch is such a creative area and is really on-point when it comes to fashion.  Having PUMA in Shoreditch helps us showcase the brand to people who care about fashion.  The store is continuously visited by fashion students, fashion bloggers, and people in fashion PR.  A unique concept like PUMA Twentyone has helped us receive many good reviews online by the media.

What advice would you give to someone setting up at BOXPARK for the first time?

The main challenge of the BOXPARK store is the space.  To keep customers interested, stock must be on consistent rotation.  Many customers come back frequently, and we would lose them if the store never changed appearance.  The store has to be simple and refreshed regularly.  Even though big brands might not choose to change their flagship stores as regularly, adaptability is one of the core strengths of the BOXPARK units.

Visit PUMA’s website, on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Maybe it is the proximity and uniformity of the containers, or the fact that the entire mall feels tucked snugly against the Shoreditch Overground Station. What we know for certain is that BOXPARK elegantly captures the potential of what ‘pop-up’ can mean for a businesses: an opportunity to show ingenuity by getting great results within serious constraints, a requirement to be fast and flexible – to think on your toes, to take risks, and most importantly to see restrictions as opportunities.

Many thanks to Abuze London, Thai and Lao Street Food, Penguin Originals, FARAH Vintage, and PUMA for being generous with your time.

And  special thank you to Claudia, Karen and Agee @BOXPARK for helping set up the interviews and supporting the competition.

#SMWPOPUP

“How Social Media Powered The Pop-up”

For Social Media Week (September 24th – 28th in London), Eventbrite

As part of Social Media Week, EventbriteUK (@briteuk) hosted 60+ attendees at Engine to discuss why pop-ups use social media, how to market big new ideas and what growth really looks like in a world gone digital. We heard from a great panel composed of major London pop-up entrepreneurs:

Andrew Swain – social media consultant at Boxpark (@boxpark),

Alice Hodge – co-founder of The Art Of Dining (@artofdiningldn)

Max Bergius – founder & editor of Art Wednesday (@artwednesday)

Sam Michel – founder of Chinwag (@chinwag)

Daniel Young  – founder of Young and Foodish (@youngandfoodish)


For pop-ups, the problems with promotion and consumer traction are obvious: they are intrinsically ephemeral, underground, inconsistent, and often invisible to the naked eye (read: invite only). They are projects built from scratch by courageous and inventive individuals keen to bring something new into the world. Conversely, they’re often unable to afford the luxuries of promotion, mass-marketing, or any paid advertising whatsoever. We heard from the panel that proper (paid) promotion can actually damage reputations if the goal is to find an authentic and authentically engaged consumer base.

Enter Social Media.

“Everyone on Twitter Is Into Crochet”

The consensus in the room was that user/consumer/fan-generated content is the most valuable to both identifying and growing a dedicated base of customers. Rather than filling Facebook with every little announcement, or feeding Twitter with flippant information, success comes from re-posting Instagram photos, sharing positive consumer feedback and reinforcing messages of gratitude. While these strategies seem fairly obvious, we were given plenty of counter-examples where Pinterest had been used to mask commercial interests, verbose blogs fell on deaf ears and scattershot over-use of Facebook and Twitter isolated everyone.

As Daniel Young put it, “Everyone on Twitter is into crochet.” This doesn’t mean that any crochet business will de-facto succeed through Tweets alone, but rather that the challenge is to bring new and useful information and projects to the platform. Take the time to tell the right people about them, and then take them on a journey. Daniel found a collaborator in Edible Experiences, and they often share and support each-other’s content.

For Alice Hodge, the journey starts with ‘being real’, which is facilitated primarily through Twitter and Instagram. The accurate buzz word here is “oblique.” Tweeting about mis-steps and antics, coupled with Instagram photos of what happens behind-the-scenes can do a lot to bring humor, life and humanity to a new business. Andrew and most of the panel echoed the value of re-posting Instagram images and other user-generated content as a way to build a reputation directly through relationships, rather than ‘pitching’ anything at all.

Email = Workhorse

So how do you connect directly with your base to promote events, sell tickets, generate a buzz or announce a new feature? And how to do you measure retention vs. interest when social network stats are only as good as the last week’s activity?

For Max Bergius, email equivocates best. Because it is so direct, Art Wednesday sees the most monetization come from direct emails. MailChimp is the favorite tool for scheduling and building email campaigns (we use it at WAPU for our mailing-list and love it). As social networks grow larger daily, getting a signal through the noise can be quite the challenge. But email – set apart from networks and inherently personal – is a great way to find and keep your ‘sticky’ supporters.

Quality, not G+

Of the many platforms supported and praised for their ability to help connect and network users, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck were praised as tools to manage and schedule social updates (they focus on Twitter and Facebook). Path, Highlight and Banjo were mentioned as good personal networking tools. Drupal and WordPress were the blogging favorites.

We would like to throw in Shhmooze as an up-and-comer which helps you find people from your networks at events hosted by Shhmooze, Eventbrite and MeetUp.

The consensus was that Google Plus and the complicated integration of Google Plus Local and Google Plus Groups makes it more of a headache than a tool. When resources are already stretched across development, outreach and service, convoluted software that changes frequently is the most likely to drop off.

“If corporates can get out of the way… we’ll have a great time”

The most poignant question of the session came at the end of the event, when Sam Michel had a chance to discuss the role of big brands amidst the pop-up phenomenon. The title quote is his, issued after explaining the potential and exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs and brands to partner around offering large-scale, authentic experiences.  Brands can bring financial support and capability, where entrepreneurs bring authenticity and a true connection to consumers.

This is most likely to work if the brand is just barely visible. We imagine meaningful or quiet product-placements, rather than big noisy ad-campaigns.  Most brands now don’t seem to cop to the idea, so maybe they just need to be taught.  Connecting with true pop-up entrepreneurs is a great opportunity for brands to authentically connect with their consumers – as we see in The Art Of Dining’s new Tradicional project.

Many thanks to Katie McPhee and Eventbrite for facilitating this fascinating conversation. (And for not forcing everyone in attendance to wear big orange shirts.)

Watch the live stream

Event overview and speakers: http://eventbriteatsmwldn12.eventbrite.com

Host: http://www.theenginegroup.com

Welcome To The Future of Retail – Part Two

Examples of pop-up retail in the UK

1) Test marketing in Covent Garden, one of the UK’s most popular shopping destinations:

• Chanel: Launched a six-month boutique at the start of London 2012.

• Tom’s Shoes: US brand tests UK shop in Seven Dials.

• Private White VC: Manchester men’s brand opens second retail store.

2) Protecting/revitalising historic property:

• The Gin Garden showcases The National Trust’s Fenton House in Hampstead.

• The Midnight Apothecary highlights the Brunel Museum’s campaign to turn a historic vault from London’s Thames Tunnel into a concert hall.

3) Community economic development and social sustainability:

• StartUp Britain’s PopUp Britain is a scalable template for enabling local entrepreneurs.

4) Brick-and-mortar brand building:

• Independent watch company Uniform Wares moves from a featured spot at the Dezeen Watchstore shop to Uniform Wares brand shop for the London Design Festival.

• Corrections rehabilitation charity Fine Cell Work’s shop in Mayfair brings puts skilled-labour products into shopper’s hands.

 

Worldwide examples of pop-up retail

5) Marketing campaigns to deliver real-world, immersive consumer experiences:

• Bob Dylan ‘Tempest’ stores (London, Berlin, NYC, LA)

• Michael Chambon’s ‘Telegraph Avenue’ record shop (Oakland,   California)

• Mumford and Sons’ General Store (Sydney)

6) Small and large business alike achieve new levels of community and customer engagement:

• Odd Future x Colette (Paris)

• The Junkyard (Beirut)

• Puma Yard (London)

• Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop (Delhi)

7) In NYC, several campaigns are using pop-up shop concepts for social service delivery:

• Barbershop x Health centre in Harlem

• School registration centres

8) Pop-up hotels, “the most extreme example of the pop-up phenomenon” (Travel and Leisure), testing the boundaries of unique consumer experiences.

 AirBNB’s designer ‘Picks’

• Design Hotels Project: San Giorgio, Mykonos

• Nikki Beach and Target boutique hotels at the Toronto International Film Festival

Growing awareness of pop-up retail

Pop-up retail is receiving increasing amounts of press coverage as it moves into industry and mainstream consumer consciousness. Whilst major cities lead the way – like Berlin, London, New York, Paris, San Francisco – there’s activity from Ayers Rock, Australia to Zurich, Switzerland. Further, there is heavy interest from the travel industry as pop-up destinations are often hyperlocal experience.

• Rise of the Pop-Up Shop – Travel and Leisure (October 2012)

• Pop-up Shops Go MainstreamWall Street Journal  (September 2012)

• New York’s 8 Best Food Trucks – Zagat (August 2012)

• World’s Best Pop Up Restaurants – American Express: Departures (July/August 2012)

• 10 of the best London pop-upsBritish Airways High Life (July 2012)

What’s Next?

We Are Pop Up has sparked interest from a variety of sources: from independent proprietors to multinational brands, and from local councils to NGOs and national government. The question is no longer if pop-up retail will emerge as a significant force, but when it will reshape the global retail industry.

Based on both the drivers mentioned in State of UK Retail, as well as the growing body of Examples, pop-up retail is gathering steam. Current property models are broken and fail to sufficiently address the needs of the short-term retail category. The future will be very interesting.

 

“All journeys begin from identifying opportunities”

Read other parts of this series.

Welcome To The Future Of Retail – Part One

The State of UK Retail

We have been reading a lot of stories about the current face of the UK retail market. Amidst speculation and concerns about the changing character of post-recession high streets, data published recently has helped disambiguate the situation. Last week, The Local Data Company’s report “Too Many Shops” identified the following shifts in the UK retail sector:

• A decade of lost growth as consumer spending is back to 2002 levels.

• 13% of retail transactions in the UK occur online.  By the late 2010s, 50% of  transactions are expected to occur on mobile devices and VISA’s online platform.

• High Street footfall is down 5% nationally.

Clearly consumer spending is down and already moving from offline to online spending. In the long-term, the proliferation and popularity of mobile devices brings with it the desire to transact in every way possible on the platform. In the short-term, brick-and-mortar retailers have been put under  pressure from online purchasing. Without any model currently in place to mitigate this shift, the type of spending correlates directly to where it is spent. For the moment, online sales does mean sales made outside of physical shop space.

• 1,500 shops per year closed between 2000 – 2009.

• 5,000 shops closed each year in 2010 and 20011.

• 1 in 7 UK shops has fallen vacant.

This sharp rise in shop closures is most commonly attributed to both decreased footfall (and related spending), and consumer consolidation (as more people go to fewer shops). Traditional department stores are being overlooked in favor of independent intermediaries and innovative brand stores. Primary examples like the Apple Store and Niketown have found renewed success through well-crafted  and heavily designed shops. We see the most success in retail shops that are highly engineered  and driven by experiential retail concepts.

• 52% of retail leases expire between now and 2015.

• 6.6 million square feet of new space has been added from 2005 – 2012.

• There are currently 50,000 vacant shops in the UK.

As more space opens up on the property market, consumer patterns change. But shops have trouble changing with them. Long-term leases mean that most shops cannot flex to match the flux. With so little room for competition, pricing adaptation, and innovative strategy, we can expect that retailer mobility will also be on the rise. With half of long-term leases expiring soon there is a good chance that the markets going to be on the move. (Additional information on UK and European retail shifts are available from Matthew Hopkinson’s presentation Multichannel Stat Attack from the Mobile Retail Summit 2012).

Pop-up shops are part of the solution”, said Simon Danczuk MP.

New consumer expectations are driving the rise of short-term “pop-up” retail in the UK and internationally. Made clear by high-fashion and Big Brand shops, consumers desire to associate themselves with products and brands in a more meaningful and creative way. The “pop-up” model facilitates innovative, specialized and (most of all) personalized shopping experiences for a new generation of shoppers.

For retailers, running a pop-up de-risks many common brick-and-mortar challenges. Without the pressure of a long-term lease and deep financial investment, they can offer a wider variety of stock, test prices and iterate designs faster.  (Another way to say it is that short-term engagements allow the market to correctly price retail property, but that is a conversation for another time.