It’s possible 2018 was the year the pop-up became a permanent figure in retail.
Many brands dipped a toe into the world of pop-ups in the past year, and why not? As retail spaces contract and inventory management becomes more important, the pop-up has become increasingly attractive to both retailers growing tired of supporting fleets of poorly-placed and unprofitable locations and digital-only brands who need the physical space to engender both discovery and loyalty.
A majority of consumers still prefer to shop in-store, especially for fashion, and the pop-up has served as an effective stepping stone for products and brands that may have seen less success otherwise.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the pop-ups that caught our attention in 2018:
Macy’s and Facebook:
Macy launched its pop-up program, The Market @ Macy’s, in February in order to open up space in its established stores for pop-ups that might benefit from the clout and foot traffic a partnership with Macy’s could provide. But, partnering with a Facebook pop-up was not something most people foresaw when the program began.
Over the holidays, Macy’s is hosting Facebook and its pop-up of around 100 brands selected by the social media powerhouse. The combination of e-commerce and social media in this pop-up makes it one of the more interesting in the bunch—especially considering it’s all made possible by one of the biggest legacy retailers still around.
AfterPay and Revolve:
In another pop-up team-up, Afterpay and Revolve joined forces for a temporary store in New York City starting in late October. The short-lived venture from Revolve was all part of its longstanding policy to be on the cutting edge of what millennial consumers want. However, this pop-up also represented a different kind of evolution.
Afterpay, a company that lets consumers purchase products and pay them off over four equal installments, represents the next step in credit. Afterpay allowed Revolve customers to use the program in-store for the first time, giving out discounts and better service for those who chose to use it.
Young and Able:
Fashion and Home brand, Young and Able, is hosting its 5th annual pop-up in Brooklyn over the holiday season. This pop-up is much more than just a temporary retail location, it also provides workshops for fans who want to learn more about design.
Past classes have included ceramic mug making, Inigo Shibori dyeing, tapestry weaving, brush lettering, calligraphy, soap making and watercolor painting.
Pop-ups are no longer relegated to unknown brands, if Facebook and Macy’s weren’t enough indication, luxury brands like Chanel also joined the trend in 2018. The Chanel Coco Game Center made the rounds in Asia during the last year, stopping in Bangkok, Seoul, Tokyo and others along the way.
If there was any denial left that video games are a powerful influence in most industries, it disappeared with the Game Center. Each game center, which featured arcade classics, midway games and other mainstays from the early days of interactive entertainment, is named after a Chanel product, and visitors have the chance to win branded prizes.
Another unlikely pop-up partnership was revealed when Guess and Alibaba got together for a FashionAI concept store in July. This one-off was located on the campus for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and used popular e-commerce site Taobao’s data to create unique shopper ID’s for visitors.
Face scanning technology, in combination with shopping profiles, create a level of pop-up personalization that is nearly unprecedented. A mirror display allowed customers to see different colors and styles of the same product through the use of RFID tags and all the shopping was done with the use of a physical-to-digital virtual shopping cart.
The classic denim brand used its pop-up to showcase some of the latest technology it was using to consumers in a way that isn’t really possible without the pop-up concept. In Los Angeles, visitors to the Levi’s pop-up shop were able to take a tour of Jeanologia’s Project F.L.X. laser-powered customization technology.
By appointment, visitors and friends of the brand used the technology to create their own vintage jeans through the use of lasers. This pop-up represents perhaps the closest relation a temporary store like this can have to the supply chain, as Levi’s used the occasion to test out technology it said would become an important part of its production process in the near-future.