by Allie Howen
For some retailers, opening a pop-up shop during the pandemic might look more like a sidewalk sale. However, doing so could be the difference between being closed completely and being partially open. Beyond survival, pop-ups can make an impact in a number of ways as retail’s new normal takes shape. Here are five:
- Encourage (safe) in-person experiences: While some consumers couldn’t wait to shop their favorite stores after lockdown, parking-lot pop-ups can ease concerns for those taking a more cautious approach. Plus, parking lots may be the path to continue selling should lockdown restrictions be re-imposed.
- Community involvement: At the pandemic’s beginning, Tesco built 24-hour pop-up shops to support hospital staff. Retailers could donate a portion of its pop-up’s proceeds to local coronavirus relief funds or act as a drop-off spot for donated clothing or nonperishable foods. Even without a charitable aspect, retailers can partner with other businesses for a “buy local” outdoor event. In a socially distanced world, any meaningful connection made with your audience is a win.
- Virtually pop-up: From Amazon’s Prime Day to Mexico’s Hot Sale and China’s 618 festival, virtual pop-ups have proven they can work on a wide scale. Towns and malls during the pandemic are working to create digital pop-up events for local businesses and tenants, while other retailers are hosting their own events. As witnessed by a number of Chinese retailers during the pandemic, incorporating live streaming into the event can help stir buzz on social media. Curbside pickup can also be incentivized to drive omnichannel behavior with such events.
- Sell discounted (out-of-season) items. For sellers of items such as apparel, frozen store inventory quickly went out of season amid lockdowns, and stocks may pile up again should restrictions recur. To help mitigate markdowns, a mall location facing restrictions may be able to open a pop-up at a stand-alone or strip mall location with no restrictions.
- Test things out. Just like in normal times, opening a pop-up during the pandemic can be used to test new products, services, technology and markets with a low-commitment.