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From Pop-Ups to BOPIS, Here’s What Consumers Want When Shopping

Pop-up shops are among the ways retailers can differentiate themselves and connect with consumers with high expectations and hungry for novel in-store experiences.

New research from Euclid Analytics, “The Store of the Past Meets The Shopper of the Future: Can Retailers Adapt to Modern Consumer Expectations?,” sheds light on what consumers across demographics want when it comes to shopping in store and online.

Once thought to be a fad, pop-ups have shown remarkable staying power. Temporary shops serve a number of purposes: a brand might throw up a limited-time store to launch a new product, test out a new geography before committing to the burden of a lease, or make the leap from clicks to bricks.

Recently, large, established retailers have discovered that making room in their stores for pop-ups can breathe life into their fall walls—and attract new, younger customers. Macy’s provides one prominent example: it recently unveiled The Market @ Macy’s, a dedicated section in 10 of its stores that will feature a rotating selection of new and emerging brands. What’s more, pop-up are especially popular at fashion weeks worldwide, proving to be a smart way to connect fans with merchandise hot off the runway and foster an intimate creator-to-customer relationship. For his Fall/Winter 2018 show at New York Fashion Week, German designer Philipp Plein launched his inaugural pop-up store—billed as “No Mercy on Mercer Street”—in the trendy SoHo neighborhood.

Euclid’s report found that pop-ups particularly resonate with shoppers on the hunt for a break from the norm. “When embedded in the physical space of established retailers, they’re refreshing twists on the familiar, enlivening brands that are typically well known to customers,” the report said. “In standalone locations, the temporal nature of a pop-up—it’s here, it’s gone!—induces that fear of missing out on timely, cool, talked-about products and experiences.”

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What’s particularly interesting is that shoppers with a variety of behavioral profiles appreciate the pop-up experience. Half of consumers who pay for monthly subscription boxes said they’d be likely to visit a pop-up store, while 29 percent of shoppers with an affinity for brick-and-mortar said they’d check out a temporary store and 38 percent of regular online shoppers would also consider a pop-up, Euclid found.

Still, a good chunk (30 percent) of those surveyed by Euclid said they might go to a pop-up in the hopes of getting in on competitive pricing, while convenience (28 percent) was also a draw for some consumers.

Why millennials believe in BOPIS

The Buy Online, Pick Up In Store (BOPIC) phenomenon is now a regular part of retailing for many merchants and according to Euclid, millennials primarily are driving this cross-channel behavior. Forty-seven percent of millennials participate in click-and-collect shopping, far outpacing the 30 percent of Gen Xers and 13 percent of baby boomers who buy the same way.

So why is BOPIS so big with millennials? It’s quick and convenient and largely hassle-free. They can skip the cash-wrap queue, get precisely what they need with no muss and fuss, and receive faster returns if the item isn’t exactly up to snuff—not to mention eliminating the guessing game known as “will what I want be in stock?”

Zara is one such retailer that’s made BOPIS a point of focus. To better serve its click-and-collect (and heavily millennial) customers, the fast-fashion company added robots to streamline the process of retrieving orders for shoppers showing up in store to collect online purchases.

All channels matter

The narrative that stores are dead is—well, dying, even as some of the hype over the so-called “retail apocalypse” begins to fade and the industry embraces the idea that instead retail is going through an overdue, and sometimes painful, transformation. Consumers value both clicks and bricks—but for different reasons. Shoppers polled by Euclid describe e-commerce as affordable (61 percent) and convenient (59 percent), and another 55 percent said the online experience is “innovative.”

On the other hand, in-store shopping scored points for being more customer-centric (48 percent) than online, as well as more secure (60 percent), despite the high-profile data breaches that recently have plagued retailers like Saks Fifth Ave. and Lord & Taylor.

Consumers, and millennials in particular, expressed interest in greater use of retail tech. More than half (51 percent) of millennials said they’d be more excited about going to a store if the retailer added more technology to brick-and-mortar, while 40 percent of shoppers across all demographics want offers and coupons sent to their smartphones ahead of the next store visit, according to Euclid.