If you need proof that pop-up shops are becoming more important in retail, look to the partnership between Facebook and Macy’s. In February 2018, the retail giant launched The Market @ Macy’s, small displays of rotating brands and merchandise located within some of their high-traffic stores. For the holidays, it invited about 100 online companies that advertise on Facebook to participate. The chosen brands offer an assortment of goods, including apparel, accessories, beauty, home décor, technology and gifts.
“We’re bringing the brands to life,” Marc Mastronardi, executive vice president of new business development at Macy’s, told CNBC.
The Facebook and Macy’s marketplace runs through early February 2019, but small-business owners can glean these three important takeaways today from the brick-and-click experiment:
1. Look for partnerships
The holidays bring several pop-up opportunities for retailers, but partnering with another brand can help bring traffic, services and added name recognition. Unlike traditional pop-up shops, Macy’s offers brands a “turnkey solution,” staffing the displays. Brands pay a fixed fee and keep all sales.
In addition to Macy’s, other stores and malls offer similar opportunities for small businesses. Home décor retailer West Elm hosts weekend pop-up shops called West Elm Local, giving artisans a chance to expand their brand awareness and potentially their customer base, as well. Mall developers GGP launched In Real Life, giving online brands space to set up pop-ups in Chicago’s Water Tower Place. And Simon Property Group offered a similar concept called The Edit at the Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island.
“Ninety percent of transactions during the holiday season are done in-store and while digital is growing, it felt like a great way to bring and give some of these small business owners a chance they wouldn’t have necessarily had otherwise,” Michelle Klein, director of North America marketing at Facebook, told Adweek. “For Macy’s, it’s bringing in new and excitement for customers and generating interest here in the store.”
Although the collaboration between Facebook and Macy’s is short-term, the impact of connecting with customers in a new way can have a lasting impact. Customers may change how they view the brands and the unique experience can help put them top of mind in the future.
2. Make shopping social
While it’s clear what Macy’s is getting out of the arrangement—publicity, traffic and a source of revenue for some of its floor space—what’s Facebook’s angle? Likely, the social platform wants shoppers to associate its social network with a way that consumers can shop and a way that retailers can connect with brands.
“What we want to do with this is really create joy around the holiday season and create delight and some surprise and do what Facebook does, which is connect people with brands they love and brands with the people who are looking for them,” Klein told Adweek.
As shoppers start to think of social platforms as a place to buy goods, retailers should begin to leverage the sites for shopping. Nearly 25 percent of business owners sell directly through Facebook and 40 percent use social media to generate sales, reports Forbes. In addition, 30 percent of shoppers say they would make purchases through Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat.
If you haven’t optimized your social media accounts and posts for purchases, it’s time to explore how to make the most of each platform.
3. Create “Instagrammable” moments
Seventy-eight percent of millennials prefer to spend money on experiences instead of things, according to a study by Harris Group. While this might be a troubling statistic for retailers, use the information to change how you sell instead of what you sell. Look for ways to engage with customers that are new or unique. Rethink your displays to encourage customers to engage with products, take photos and (hopefully) post them online.
Participating in pop-up shops are one way to bring your brand off the screen and into real life, but there are others. Hold classes to demonstrate your products. Sponsor or participate in a community event that ties in with your brand. Or launch an event series, such as a monthly speaker or club. Sixty-five percent of consumers purchase products or services promoted at events, according to the Event Marketing Institute.
The success of Market @ Macy’s is still to be determined, but the experiment is a sign that shopping is a social event. Retailers who look for ways to make their brand an experience will have customers who are engaged and waiting for more.
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