E-Commerce Going Offline with New York City Pop-Ups


May 26, 2016

For many retailers, the e-commerce storefront is becoming increasingly more appealing than opting for the traditional brick-and-mortar shop. Online, there are more customers to reach as the virtual marketplace transcends geography. While competition may be higher, operational costs are often much lower and customer service is more controlled. But, while online shopping has seemingly countless benefits, one aspect that’s difficult to replicate with a virtual storefront is the customer experience. It’s for this reason that popular e-commerce sites are choosing to showcase their products offline, by way of New York City pop-up shops.

While these temporary retail spaces might seem paltry, the pop-up shop industry has grown significantly over the last few years. In 2013, these short-lived storefronts were seeing a collective revenue that surpassed $8 billion, a 16% increase from 2009. And it’s not just wanting a piece of the pie that has virtual brands launching these flash showrooms, the pop-up shop trend has more to offer brands than just financial gain.

Short-term retail bridges the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and the e-commerce world, allowing brands to have a taste of premium real estate without shouldering the enormous cost. It gives companies the venue to experiment with new concepts and introduce new products, all while creating a marketing opportunity that will generate brand awareness. And, for those who believe that omni-channel retail will be the future of the industry, pop-ups allow retail brands to these the waters of offline expansion before blindly diving in.

There’s arguably no better city to act as a venue for these pop-up shops than New York, the country’s fashion capital. It’s for this reason that throngs of industry retailers are opting to spend their marketing dollars launching surprise storefronts in New York City’s trendiest neighborhoods. Among such retailers, online luxury marketplace Matchfashion.com recently opened a private shopping pop-up event at the WOM Townhouse in SoHo.

Matches rolled out a weekend full of press programming, cleverly disguised in its pop-up event. Hosting talks with the brand ambassadors, brunch with industry leaders, and cocktails with trendsetting publications, every aspect was aimed to create customer engagement. It created hype for the new collection, previewing some of the website’s fall 2016 merchandise. Rather than purchasing products and bringing them home the same day, Matches took a different approach. Instead, customers still shopped online via iPads, pre-ordering their wish-list but only after experiencing the products in person first.

Cofounder of Matches, Tom Chapman, explained that it’s “all about how we make the physical more digital and the digital more physical.” The brand views its different channels – mobile, online, and pop-ups – as working together to create one collective commerce rather than separating them into different types. Each venue creates a different type of customer experience that blends with the others to cover all the bases and build relationships with both new and existing customers.

As Matches, and a slew of other online retailers have seen, pop-up stores can be an effective method of building brand buzz and an important part of a company’s relationship marketing strategy. In an industry that relies so much on the customer experience and the feeling of touching, seeing, and interacting with styles, New York City pop-up shops are a compelling way to satisfy that need.

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