or many brands, the next step after e-commerce is opening a pop-up shop.

Pop-ups provide unique opportunities to build relationships with customers, brand awareness, and drive revenue. How pop-ups build those relationships is another story. For brands used to interacting with their customers online, building those relationships in person may seem daunting.

Luckily, there are a few pop-up best practices to build customer relationships and get the most out of your investment.

Create Unique Offers and Experiences

A pop-up is a special experience, so it makes sense for it to be accompanied by exclusive special offers. These offers can be directed toward different clients depending on the goals of your brand. Offers for current customers make them feel noticed and cared about, while offers for new customers peak their interest in your brand and incentivize them to visit your pop-up.

But the job isn’t over once you get people in the door. Pop-ups are short-term, special engagements, so it’s important that your shop does more than just showcase your products. You also have to ensure that your customers have a memorable experience.

How you design that experience will vary greatly depending on the goals and resources of your brand. For example for new and current customers, experiences might include:

For New Customers:

  • Create special offers or discounts to generate interest
  • Product sampling and demonstrations
  • Collaborations with other local or like-minded brands
  • Fun incentives--art, food and drink, music, manicures, you name it

for Current Customers:

  • Exclusive offers or discounts
  • Special services like product customization, personal styling and educational workshops
  • Invitations to special events to make them feel cared about
  • Access to product exclusives or giveaways

Brand Education

Genuine face-to-face interactions are some of the most powerful experiences your brand will have. Real, face-to-face interactions between human are some of the most powerful experiences your brand will have. Face time with associates allows pop ups shoppers to get a deeper understanding of your brand and vice versa. One way to capitalize on this face time is through brand education. You can utilize your pop-up as a space to provide information about the products’ production, materials, or even tutorials for effective use.

Pop-ups are also a great opportunity to emphasize the values brands have in common with their customers. Whether it’s giving a deeper look into the brand’s sourcing or production process, adding a philanthropic component to the pop-up, or partnering with other local brands or non-profits, brand education can be a key way to build intimate customer relationships.

One good example of this was Patagonia’s “Worn Wear Repair” pop-up concept. Visitors could bring their damaged clothing items from Patagonia (or other brands) and have them repaired free of charge. The pop-up also gave customers the opportunity to learn how to mend their own clothes at home, all while promoting the Patagonia’s values of reducing CO2 emissions and waste. The concept helped the brand establish relationships with customers by offering them a valuable service, as well educating them about their ethos.

Take Things Online

Customer relationship building shouldn’t be limited to the duration of your pop-up. There are a number of ways you can strengthen those relationships before and after customers visit your shop.

Social media campaigns are one way to accomplish this. Campaigns should go beyond simple self-promotion and offer something of value to the customer. Through creative hashtags, incentives, and other means, a social media campaign can create buzz for your pop-up, and encourage participation before they even set foot in your store.  You can create teaser content while the pop-up is under construction, or even create Pinterest boards highlighting the products that will be available.

With online relationships, you can do more than get shoppers into the store. Some options include sending customers information about products they tried in-store, results of a product quiz, or even pictures taken at the event. To create and maintain these customer relationships, you need to acquire the necessary contact information when they’re in the store. There are a number of ways to ask for shoppers’ information, all of which result in more detailed information about your customer profile.

Pop-ups offer e-commerce brands a unique opportunity to engage with customers face-to-face. Between online and in-person experiences, customers can leave your shop feeling intrigued, knowledgeable, and comfortable.  Building customer relationships at a pop-up should always be a top priority, no matter how you choose to do it.

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