Emerging brands and retailers are leveraging pop-up shops to acquire new customers and solidify relationships with loyal buyers. ETailers especially are seeing the value in these short-term shops, largely because they can test their brand in specific markets and boost awareness without committing to a brick-and-mortar strategy.
Indochino, a men’s brand offering tailored apparel, relies on pop-up shops to provide consumers with a more personalized and intimate shopping experience. Since implementing the first pop-up shop in 2011, the eTailer has opened approximately 12 shops across the U.S. and in Canada.
“We didn’t really have any fixation on opening brick-and-mortar stores — we just wanted to solve a specific problem we knew men had, so that’s where the shops have played a key role,” said Kyle Vucko, Co-founder and CEO of Indochino. This need, he explained, is to find tailored yet stylish apparel on a budget.
“I co-founded Indochino with my college friend Heikal Gani, who needed suits to attend conferences and events,” Vucko said. “He went through a difficult process, researching online to find stylish, cool brands that fit with being a young professional. He found out this was hard to come by. The most stylish suits were either really expensive or nonexistent. And if he went to warehouses and some department stores, the overall retail experience was subpar.”
From there, the concept of Indochino was born. To make a purchase, consumers visit the web site and complete a measurement profile. Products can even be customized based on specific style preferences. For example, a shopper can change the number of buttons or the type of lapel on a jacket. Once an order is complete, Indochino tailors makes the necessary adjustments and it is shipped to the customer.
Creating A Great Shopping Experience For Men
Growing online popularity, coupled with a “great mobile experience,” encouraged Indochino to weigh the benefits of a brick-and-mortar presence, according to Vucko. “A lot of guys were saying they loved what we did. They wanted advice on style and wanted to connect with the brand in person, since it’s so hard to have those intimate interactions on the web. Those were the primary reasons why we were
interested in pop-up shops.”
When planning the pop-up environment, Indochino focused solely on the key features that would create a great retail experience for men, Vucko explained. “You look around the retail industry, and most store environments are optimized for women who enjoy browsing. We wanted to create an experience that was tailored for men: convenient and easy.”
Upon entering an Indochino pop-up shop, consumers are immediately paired with a stylist, who measures them and gets a deeper understanding of the products and styles the customer is looking for. Associates then create a measurement profile through the site using an iPad or iPod Touch, and walk through the customization process online as a consumer browses through the store. Orders are instantly completed through the mobile devices, and products are drop-shipped at the customer’s door in approximately four weeks when the tailoring process is complete.
In early 2013, Indochino partnered with Storefront, a company that lists available rental spaces and helps companies connect with space owners, make reservations and open pop-up shops faster.
“Storefront has been quite helpful in finding retail locations, which is a very tough process usually,” Vucko said. “You want to be in the right place for your brand at the right time, and you also want to be there long enough to make it worthwhile. Storefront has really met our needs as a brand because they really make sure we get what we need, while also educating landlords about the value of pop-up shops to their business.”
Although Indochino has a global presence, most business is done in North America, Vucko explained. As a result, Indochino saw an increased need to be present in larger markets, such as New York City. To date, the eTailer has expanded to Boston, Philadelphia and Washington D.C.
While the retailer is still working out its 2014 pop-up strategy, “our plan is to really scale our pop-up shops and go into major and secondary markets,” Vucko said. Because Indochino has seen “a lot of success” with the pop-up business model, the brand will continue to revise strategies based on consumer trends.
“The omnichannel customer experience is still very much evolving,” Vucko said. “We’re still feeling out different strategies, so we are going to play with longer and shorter events, as well as test different ways to interact with customers in person.”