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The Do’s and Don’ts of Pop-Up/Temporary Retail


By Ken Nisch, chairman, JGA

Here are some recommendations for designing temporary spaces:

DO start with a plan

Design a store that can be realistically executed within the budget and limited time frame inherent to temporary spaces, allowing for rapid installation and the demanding wear-and-tear that a successful pop-up experiences. Pop-up visitors often have a low sense of expectations as they often hadn’t pre-planned to visit. But once engaged, everything counts! So make sure all the details -- from those that impact the senses, to the software, the people, the collateral, the details -- are all on message and contribute to the first impression.

DO keep it simple

Many retail fundamentals are at work in temporary environments, but the “temp store” filter suggests simplification. Maintain clear organization and signage to motivate “point-to-point” circulation.

DON’T become a sampling stand

Resist the temptation to make the location a proverbial Costco sampling stand, where a high percentage of visitors interact but a very low percentage convert to future customers.

DO focus on engagement

Pop-up stores are intended to create trial and interest that will translate into future purchasing behavior. The brand’s messaging and engagement need to attract a broad audience, appealing to both the core and “interested” audiences.

DON’T forget white space

White space can be as compelling as a highly complicated booth. This is particularly true for pop-ups in high traffic, densely populated and commercially dynamic areas where doing less rather than more can be a way to literally “pop-out.”

DO communicate “in the moment”

When a pop-up becomes too “store-like,” it loses the perception of “in the moment” urgency. Communicate the brand through simplicity, amplification, editing, and the creative impact that one expects from a full page ad in a fashion magazine. A compelling visual statement interrupts the audience’s thought process, but does so with a limited number of experiential exclamation marks.

DON’T ignore technology

Technology lends a flexible edge to the experience by adjusting to time-specific trends; such as targeting the lunch hour or evening customer. High tech tools can also comingle brands to bring interactive and experiential texture to the moment, appealing to the basic consumer instinct that motion, sound and changeability signify energy and action – and “makes you look.”

Ken Nisch is chairman of JGA, Southfield Mich., which specializes in retail design and brand strategy.

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