Retail Trends

Why Pop-Up Stores are Great Opportunities for the Service Sector

The pop-up’s popularity is proving to be more than just a trend and its merits are clear. For established brands, the pop-up venue is a great testing ground for new product lines, a way to connect to a new audience, while e-commerce retailers can use it to strengthen their customer relations. For young start-ups, who may need to avoid long-term costs and can’t afford the risk of misplacing their brick and mortar stores, the pop-up is a safe first step into the market.

While the retail industry has clearly capitalized on this lucrative form of engaging their audience, the usefulness of the pop-up venue goes beyond the retail sector alone. As a temporary physical space where face-to-face interactions can take place and relationships can be personalized, the pop-up venue also presents a remarkable opportunity for the service sector.

Banking on pop-ups. 

With rumors being whispered around the death of physical banking branches, experts have called for the need to rethink the role that branches will play in the future. It doesn’t sound all that different from discussions happening among retailers. Pop-up venues may be the answer banks and credit unions are looking for: set up a store, (re)connect to customers, refine services and… move on.

Yes, an ATM service, issuing debit cards, opening new accounts, handling loan applications and distributing information, it’s all possible in the so-called “pop-up micro branch”. Branch convenience remains the main consideration for customers when choosing their primary bank. PNC Bank, UniCredit, Bank Austria, National Australian Bank and even digital-first bank Tangerine have already started to experiment with these quick-to-set-up micro-branches. And they are reaping the benefits.

Besides reaching out to existing and potential customers, several banks have also been using the pop-up venue to try out new technologies. TD Bank, for example, has been experimenting with new models for staff operations and technology use, featuring iPads with preloaded custom software. In these micro-branches staff members assist customers in learning to work with newly launched apps.

Similarly, PNC bank used the pop-up venue to introduce their “SmartATM” where customers could cash checks, deposit multiple checks and dispense 1$ bills.

San Francisco based Umpqua Bank used the pop-up to set up a branch that is more like an upscale café than a regular bank, featuring iPads, interactive touchscreens, outdoor seating and free “loaner” bikes.

Seizing opportunities.

It’s not just banks that are exploring this new way of doing business. The pop-up is all about setting up camp where foot traffic is high. This being the case, the mall is increasingly becoming a preferred hangout for insurance agents.

With a marked rise of consumerism in the health care industry, competition is fiercer than ever among agents and apart from lowering prices and setting up neat deals, it’s really about connecting to the customer and building trust.

As the service sector continues to modernize, employing savvy technology, pop-ups can serve as spaces where customers can be personally assisted to grapple with these new technologies.

Times have changed and so have people. If banks, insurance agents or even governmental departments want to attract, connect and interact with millennials, then pop-up stores should not be underestimated. Youngsters are dealing with important questions about saving, budgeting or even investing and are in need of personal guidance. This presents a fine opportunity for banks that boast a strong track-record to exhibit care and know-how.

Once again, PNC Bank led the way when they set up an on-campus pop-up branch for a period of five months, handing out free rally towels on game days and cups of coffee during exam periods.

The pop-up venue is of and for this age. These times are characterized by increased digitalization, mobility, fast-moving trends, the growth of flexible work environments and a mindset hungry for innovative ideas. Retailers have already embraced the pop-up as a powerful tool in an endeavor to expand and rejuvenate. The service sector can’t afford to miss out.

 

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About the author

Benoît Clément-Bollée

Benoît Clément-Bollée is the CEO of Storefront Asia and brings a diverse background of military, humanitarian, and corporate experience to the startup world. Prior to expanding Storefront’s presence in Asia, he served 8 years in the French Navy, and worked 5 years in the United Nations and with several NGOs in the Middle East, Africa, and various parts of Asia. Upon his arrival in Hong Kong 4 years ago, he established a subsidiary of a French SME specialized in retail shop fitting (+100 retail stores opened in Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and China, especially French affordable luxury brands).