Thinking small: big box retailers start to get in on the pop-up action

  • Pop-ups
  • July 7, 2016
  • Jenny Keown
Thinking small: big box retailers start to get in on the pop-up action

No longer the domain of indie startup retailers, pop-up stores of all descriptions are literally popping up all over New Zealand, and the big guys are beginning to take notice. 

The Warehouse Group opened a pop-up store in Whangamata on June 20, and this is one of seven Warehouse pop-up stores around the country.

While TWG didn’t want to elaborate much on why it is getting in to this space, it did say that it continues to explore opportunities to offer “The Warehouse experience” in different locations.

Major homeware brand Freedom opened a store this week in the new Westgate development in West Auckland, following a successful trial pop-up store.

Lizzi Hines, the managing director of Spaceworks launched design service Pop Up Now two years ago, because they knew the trend would sweep across New Zealand.

On the question of what pop-up stores would offer a big box retailer like The Warehouse, Hines said “so much”.

“Pop-up stores are so much more than a trend now, they’re here to stay and that is because they connect with the customer differently to the traditional store. They are the ultimate in igniting the fear of missing out, exclusivity, and the here today, gone tomorrow concept,” she says.

US and UK big box retailers are increasingly offering pop-up stores as a quick fix to turnover stock and to engage with the consumer, she says.

Multinational juggernauts are also getting in on the act. Microsoft is opening 12 pop-ups in the US to help with retail sales – a perfect foray into a market that wouldn’t ordinarily support a full year of rent and expenses. 

Fisher & Paykel has opened a series of non-traditional, experiential retail spaces in NYC and Sydney. These centres include product layouts as they would appear in the home, and a team of design and cooking specialists on hand to give advice on product selection.

Hines said Fisher & Paykel is also now considering popping up in unexpected places such as train stations and malls, where customers are least likely to interact with a premium brand.

And while Molenberg would hardly be placed in the premium brand category, a recent campaign tried to change that perception with a pop-up cafe in central Auckland (overseas, Tiger has just launched the very popular Tiger Trading Company pop-up store in NYC). 

A pop-up store, historically, has been a few racks and temporary shelving thrown in to a space. However, since the advent of super funky pop-up bars (started around the Rugby World Cup of 2011),  retailers are following suit, Hines says.

“Shopping behaviour has changed so much over the years, with millennials shopping differently than other generations. They shop socially and yearn for a unique experience,” says Hines.

A Mitre 10 spokesperson said the stores service the regions well, yet that’s not to say it wouldn’t consider offering a pop-up store. Kmart’s corporate affairs advisor Natalie Rixon said it had 19 stores operating in New Zealand and this was their focus.

Hines said big box retailers who look outside the box (excuse the pun), will increasingly offer pop-ups as a way to garner more eyeballs. 

What should a large retailer think about when considering whether to open a pop-up? Hines gives her advice. 

  • Offering a unique service/product
  • Optimal pricing
  • Convenience
  • Location and support with a marketing campaign
  • Make it a fun experience
  • Measure the success of the pop-up

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