By Dmitry Sokolov
‘Pop-up stores’ are temporary outlets that have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Set up for short periods with little or no advance notice, they include a variety of formats, such as vacant retail units, streetside or alley locations, miniature department stores and compact booths set up within existing stores or shopping malls. In all of these variations, the concept remains the same, striving to keep the retail experience fresh, new and exciting for consumers.
The combined persistence of many retailers who experimented early on with pop-up stores has now made them part of the mainstream. In 2011 alone, well-established retailers and suppliers who embraced the pop-up store concept included Holt Renfrew, Topshop, H&M, L’Oreal and Target, among many others.
As these retailers continue to experiment with attempts to reach new customers in more hip and intimate ways, they face challenges in achieving brand recognition within a temporary space that, in many cases, imposes restrictions in terms of modifications. It can also be significantly difficult to make this ‘trunk show’ concept meet the retailer’s own tight branding guidelines and stringent design standards.
In this ‘one sign fits all’ context, digital signage answers the call. With its easily transferable capabilities for portable branding, messaging and sales promotions, it is rapidly becoming the tool of choice for retailers seeking to enhance their temporary facilities.
Signage on demand
Digital signage can convey rich media content on demand, delivering not only a high-impact visual experience for shoppers, but also nearly instant content updates. It can take the form of portable or wall-mounted screens or even interactive kiosks.
Studies suggest digital signage achieves nearly double the recall rate of traditional signage, so it can help bring much-needed extra attention to a temporary store or merchandising fixture, allowing it to stand out from the rest of the retail crowd. And the dynamic capabilities of digital signage are well-matched for the transient nature of pop-up retailing.
In contrast to posters and other static graphics, digital signage can incorporate a wide variety of branding assets, including TV commercials and product demonstration videos, to communicate with in-store and curbside traffic alike. Whether mounted on walls or positioned on stands, digital displays enable interchangeable signage throughout the pop-up store layout. Larger displays or even multi-screen video walls can be installed behind the cash counter, for example, to create a central focal point.
Meanwhile, infrared (IR) sensors and webcams can trigger interactive content based on shoppers’ proximity. A digital sign positioned at the entryway to a ‘one day only’ store can invite customers in and, as they approach, switch content to provide a detailed view of the related products and promotions.
This type of interactivity can be achieved without staff intervention, using a simple script to interface with a standard, off-the-shelf webcam mounted to the sign. On-screen content can also be changed at any time to highlight special offers, according to available inventory or day-part.
Interactive kiosks may be purpose-built or based around an ‘all-in-one’ personal computer (PC) designed for touch screens. One major advantage this medium offers for pop-up stores is the ability to access full-store product inventory through ‘virtual sales assistant’ software and browser-based content configured to display in kiosk mode. Shoppers and staff can look up and order all of the retailer’s catalogued products, including those that could not be physically accommodated within the smaller shop format, arranging for warehoused inventory to be delivered to the customer’s home or nearest permanent store.