How To Bring Your E-Commerce Brand To Life With Pop-up Stores

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Brands both big and small are joining the temporary retail bandwagon. According to Independent Retailer data, pop-up shops process a whopping $50 billion in sales every year.

And as omnichannel sales become increasingly important, more ecommerce brands see the significance of creating in-person brand experiences for their customers.

So how do you make sure that your brand identity translates through your pop-up? How do you translate that online brand into an offline experience? Don’t sweat it — we’ve done the legwork to make your transition from clicks to bricks as simple as possible.

Investing in a Pop-Up: Why Offline Experiences Matter

According to brand consultant Denise Lee Yohn in an interview with AdAge: “Customer experience is becoming more influential in shaping people’s expectations. It’s allowing the brand to say more about itself than just saying, ‘Here is this product.'”

So, online-only brands not only need to consider other sales channels (yes, like pop-up shops), but also look into how they can create a cohesive brand experience across all of them.

Do you. #mondaymotivation

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Take e-commerce brand Bow & Drape. After growing a cult following on Instagram, this online brand took its sweatshirts and accessories – complete with memes and quips – offline. Just in time for the holidays, Bow & Drape hosted its own Nordstrom pop-in.

Casper Mattresses is another online-to-offline brand that mounted a similar campaign in 2016. The brand cruised across North America hosting pop up “Snooze Rooms” to engage locals to test out their comfy mattresses in their own travelling bedroom, bringing their brand to life through these rooms.

Bringing Your Biz to Life Offline: Ideas to Brand Your Space

When making your first foray into offline, you need to make sure your pop-up reflects your brand. Essentially, your temporary storefront should be a physical extension of your website. Although the in-person shopping experience will inevitably be different (some might say better) for customers, it should still feel cohesive with that online shopping experience.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to make a physical space feel like your own.

1. Signage

Image: Pinterest

From sandwich boards directing passersby to your storefront to the giant sign hanging above your door, you can signal your visual identity with branded signage and placards that match the visual aesthetic of your website.

Visual branding is a major cue for customers looking for familiar signs of your online brand. And there are plenty of signage options to pique customers’ interest and draw their eye to a particular display, including:

  • Product tags
  • Decals for windows and walls
  • Sandwich boards to sit on sidewalks outside your shop
  • Neon signs

During the planning process, start on the outside of your shop and work your way in. An exterior logo sign is a great first step. Ensure your logo is large enough to be visible from both sides of the street and clearly communicates your visual branding.

Inside your store, you can use signs, cards and placards to design a path for shoppers. You can also use these signs to draw their attention to featured products and displays.

Pro tip: Mimic the way your website is set up. If you have specific product categories, consider organizing your store in a similar manner so shoppers will have an easier time finding the products they want.

2. Lighting

Although lighting is not a factor that immediately comes to mind when shopping in a store, it can serve as an integral way for brands to create a specific atmosphere in their pop-up.

For example, lighting a display from the top can create sharp shadows, whereas lighting it from the sides and front is much softer. Spotlights focused on certain shelves can highlight featured products, and dim lighting along pathways with stronger lighting on shelves and displays draws shopper attention to products versus negative space. And some brands also create unique or bold lighting displays to further highlight your visual brand.

Don’t forget that the ambiance and overall lighting concept is important for photography as well. Instagram has become an important platform for many retailers, and lighting certainly helps with the “Instagram-ability” of your shop.

3. Sound and Scent Marketing

While online shopping is strictly visual, and many pop-ups tend to be visual and tactile, your customers have five senses — so try to engage all of them.

Create soundscapes (like curated playlists or white noise) that reflect your online brand to play in the background in your pop-up. Scent can also play a role in eliciting customer emotions or memories tied to your brand — so consider creating a subtle scent for your store. Opt for something simple like essential oils or incense instead of going for any overpowering smells. The scent should complement the experience rather than being a distraction.

Bring Your Website to Your Pop-Up

You can also take a tech-inspired approach and bring your website to your pop-up, quite literally. For some, this may be introducing tablets or other devices that customers can use to browse your website. This brings the familiarity of the digital experience to the physical experience in your pop-up. A more innovative approach could take inspiration from tech-forward brands like Rebecca Minkoff’s interactive dressing rooms.

The opposite is also a way to match the website and pop-up experiences: Bring your pop-up to your website. Create a fully interactive, 360-degree virtual pop-up store online — that’s a pop-up that can’t get much closer to your authentic digital experience.

Find out how you can pop up anywhere with a virtual store >

About the author

Alexandra Sheehan

Alexandra is a contributor for Storefront. Beyond offering up insights here, Alexandra is a copywriter and content strategist for retailers and retail industry leaders.