Is it time for retailers to create a tech strategy for pop-up shops?
The pop-up shop is the ultimate expression of a trend whereby retailers reach beyond their stores and put themselves in front of consumers instead of waiting for them to show up at a store. It’s also much more than that. E-tailers are perfecting the art of using temporary physical stores as proving grounds to reach new kinds of consumers. When staid department store retailers like Macy’s are remodeling stores to include areas that have more of a permanent pop-up market feel, you know a trend has reached the status of well-established.
The tech side of making pop-ups happen, though, leaves a lot to be desired. Retailers basically have two choices: roll out big heavy registers and all of the infrastructure that enables store operations or go so lightweight as to lose sight of loyal customers and sometimes even the ability to manage returns from pop-ups. Neither of these options will serve if pop-up shops become an enduring strategy for retailers — which already seems likely.
Here are four challenges that a tech strategy for pop-ups must overcome:
- Deployment. Full PCs with cash drawers and all the peripherals — plus a local LAN to enable a mini offline store — require an enormous amount of resources to deploy. Going with something very lightweight, however, has its own challenges.
- Data. Retailers who choose to go low-tech with POS to support pop-ups often do so at the expense of an integrated experience for consumers. Customer lookup? Nope, not available, let alone an omnichannel experience. And sometimes retailers lose sight of even basket-level data, choosing to take a report out of the whole event as a single line item to bring the transaction back into the enterprise.
- Localization. Especially if you’re implementing a roving pop-up, it’s important to keep up with rolling through multiple tax codes. That’s not the only localization challenge. Making sure you put the right local “home” store for each customer on the receipt helps keep customers connected to the brand long after the event itself is over.
- Offline Resiliency. Taking commerce technology on the road poses challenges. Some retailers try to address this with mobile hotspots or cellular-based devices, which can experience dropped connections. As soon as that happens, both consumers and associates get antsy about whether the sale went through — which is not a good experience for anyone.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is it time for retailers to create a tech strategy for pop-up shops? What do you see as the biggest challenges facing retailers and consumer brands setting up pop-up shops?