pop-up shops

Shoppertainment 101

We love following Storefront's blog, and they recently published a great post on shoppertainment. The word itself might be made up, but the concept certainly isn't anything new to the retail community. From interactive technology (think: Apple Store) to hands-on play (think: the FAO Schwarz piano in the film Big) to crazy and wild (think: IKEA's slumber parties) to not-so-tragically hip school buses (think: Warby Parker) and more, shoppertainment can take many forms across many industries. To help you use shoppertainment to increase sales and build your business, we thought we'd go over the basics of shoppertainment and how you might want to apply the principles to your shop.

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What is shoppertainment?

Shoppertainment is a fun, hands-on, tactile experience for customers—intended to leave a lasting impression.

Why is it effective?

Shoppertainment gives people a fun story about your business that they are often more willing to share, either by word of mouth or through social media. It lets them try (and perhaps buy) products that they might not otherwise. But most importantly, it creates memorable, personal experiences that add that human element to your brand and encourages customer loyalty.

At IKEA's slumber party in Essex, for example, 100 lucky guests put on their PJs and were treated to massages, movies, manicures, bedtime stories from celebrities and a find-your-perfect-mattress guide. The experience was inspired by a Facebook group called, "I wanna have a sleepover at IKEA," so already the marketing team had an idea of how viral this PR stunt could become.

IKEA sleepover via Trend Hunter

What makes shoppertainment successful?

When planning shoppertainment experiences, we recommend starting small and working your way up. This basic checklist below should help. If your idea doesn't meet all three criteria, it's time to try something else.

  • First, is it shareable? Will people Instagram this? Will they tell their friends? Will they
  • Second, is it related to your shop and products? Sometimes you might come up with a crazy-fun idea, but if it doesn't reflect your business, then what's the point? It might not be worth the investment. Some businesses lend themselves better to shoppertainment than others, but truly the only limitation is your creativity!
  • Third, is it too marketing-focused?  Great shoppertainment isn't about overselling—your customers will see right through it and that's worse than no shoppertainment at all. It should always tie back to your brand, but in a natural way.

How would you implement shoppertainment in your store? Let us know in the comments!

Maximize Fair and Festival Sales

Those long, hot days under a tent will not be for naught! Not on our watch. Summer festival season is kicking off, you're dragging your inventory all over town and we want you to make the most of it this year. Maximize fair and festival sales with a few actionable tips you can put into place today.

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1. Pick your battles. When you first get started with pop-up selling, it is a bit of a trial and error game, but you can still be strategic. It's tempting to want to say yes to any and every fair into which you are accepted, but really think about your customers. Are they even at this fair? If not, spend your Saturday elsewhere (like the beach!).

2. Just say no. Especially if you've gone through your share of festival seasons already, it's OK to say no to the events that just aren't worth it anymore (or never were). If you do $5,000 in sales at Fair A in June and $500 at Fair B in July, and both require the same investment from you (time, money, sanity, etc.), it's clearly time to pass on Fair B.

3. Find your spot. We've found it helpful to make detailed notes about each event immediately afterwards so you can better position yourself next year, literally. If they stuck you in a back corner last year, make sure you request a specific spot next year that you noticed got great foot traffic. Most organizers will want to strangle you if you ask them right before the doors open, but are more than happy to accommodate requests they know about well in advance.

4. Bring business cards—lots of them! Network with your fellow sellers, and also keep plenty for passers-by to take in case they want to find your wares online or in your shop later.

5. Consider selling "needs," in addition to "wants." Yes, you're at this fair primarily to sell your handmade crafts, but the people passing by your tent might also be thirsty or need sunscreen or a rain poncho. Think about bringing some inventory in the "needs" category, taking care to follow the event's regulations on food and drink vendors, of course.

6. Smile. Be genuine. Be friendly. This should go without saying, but we can't count the number of times we've walked through a craft fair and the vendors are totally unengaged. It's like walking into someone's home and the owner's just sitting there watching TV... but also trying to sell you something. Don't do that, pals. Though it might be tempting to quietly work on your new line of jewelry while people browse, be approachable and present with your people and always say hello. Welcome people into your temporary home.

Need more tips? Check out our post on organizing and managing fair and festival inventory too!

Guide To Managing Inventory During Festival Season

Many of our customers at Shopventory are makers. They make arts and crafts, gourmet groceries—and some of them even make music. We are so proud of these feisty geniuses for creating beautiful things, but we know that actually selling those beautiful things can sometimes be tougher than making them. renegade

With spring approaching, the country's makers are going to be popping up merch tents all over the land—so we wanted to provide a guide to wrangling your inventory for festivals, flea markets, farmers markets, fairs and pop-up shops. We'll run through an essential packing list and a few organizational tips to help you get ready for the seasonal rush!

 The Packing List:

-Pop-up tent -Tent weights -A banner -Bungee cords or sturdy string to hang the banner -A folding table or two -Tablecloths -Chairs -Your display(s): hangers for T-shirts, folding shelves for goods, case for jewelry, various boxes to create height levels, etc. -Lights for after dark (uplighting, spotlights, string lights, etc.) -Extension cords and extra batteries -Duct tape, because you never know -Lock box for cash, stocked with change -Your Square or PayPal Here credit card readers -Mobile Internet hotspot -Blank card stock for signage on the fly -Plenty of permanent markers and pens -Mailing list sign-up form and clipboard (or the digital version on an iPad) -Scissors -Simple tool set with pliers and a hammer -Small rolling dolly or luggage cart -Your merchandise, of course. -Small cooler with water and snacks -Sunscreen, ponchos -Optional: a fan, projector and branded gobo (can be very impactful at evening events!), something to keep you occupied during lulls in traffic

Organizational Tips:

1. Put wheels on it! Utilize something like a rolling tool box or a large wheelie suitcase as the merchandise hub for the many, many essentials that come along with temporary retail. Load-in will be 1000% less of a headache when you don't have to track down a dolly. Plus, anything with drawers or compartments for designated items will make setup and cleanup much easier than a slew of plastic tubs.

2. Learn to fold a T-shirt properly. That is, make sure you know how to make your merchandise look the most polished and visually appealing for people passing by. If you're selling T-shirts, know how to fold them. If you're selling artwork, don't make your customers dig through a crowded rack one at a time. If you're selling your hot pepper jams, turn your booth into a picnic with a brightly checked tablecloths, picnic baskets and even invest in some plastic hot peppers for a display rather than setting out a sad, lonely jar on a boring table. Having an evergreen plan for your display will help you feel more organized.

3. Finish strong. At the end of a long day or an even longer weekend, it will be tempting to just haphazardly toss everything into the car and get to bed as quickly as possible. However, take your mom's advice and put your toys away after you use them so everything is in its place for the next event. As you're packing up, make a quick note of any supplies that are running low (Shopventory will keep track of your merchandise inventory automatically, so no need to worry about that part!). It'll take less time in the end, and you'll save yourself from scrambling to buy extra extension cords and tablecloths when you realize you left yours in the wrong box last time. 

What sorts of tools and tricks do you use during festival season? Let us know in the comments!

We're Excited About Next Generation Payments

nextgenpaymentsRetailers large and small are adopting new mobile payments systems all with the goal to make everyone’s lives easier. For both the customer and the business, payment will be faster and the experience customized. A customer becomes more than just a walking wallet and, perhaps one day, he or she won’t need to lug around plastic and cash.

Mobile payment systems have typically been found in small businesses or scattered amongst pop-ups, but you may be surprised when you find the new PayPal in-store payment options in retail giants like Home Depot or JC Penney.

PayPal’s payment tools are moving toward improved customer experience. With PayPal Here, local and mobile businesses can process credit cards easily and from anywhere. Larger stores may gradually be implementing in-store payments, which just require your phone number and PIN. Finally, PayPal is partnering with Vend, Shopkeep, Erply, and Leapset, four POS software companies that suit well to small business needs.

With PayPal’s partnering with these companies, payment is fast and sales are organized. With a check-in app that opens the path for loyalty program options, customers are recognized, connected automatically, and encouraged to visit more often. Additionally, combining PayPal with the POS software consolidates almost everything into one system, making the retailer’s life much less hectic.

But if businesses take it a step further with organization, they can’t track the quantities of their products they sell. Business owners’ lives are still chaotic when they’re stuck keeping tabs on inventory manually. What sells the best? How soon before you run out of this or that? What isn’t selling well enough?

While two elements of the equation are solved, they need one more to optimize their business management. Using a program like Shopventory that integrates with what they already use can make a small or mobile business excel beyond what they originally thought possible. It keeps track of inventory quantities and provides reports on your sales to help with your business strategy, all while integrating with your POS and payment system. A business trifecta, if you will.

Maybe one day all customers can rely on their phones as their preferred method of payment. For now, the mobile payments industry is growing more innovative and more businesses are adopting next generation payments to accommodate their customer and management needs.

Have you experienced any next generation payment methods? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter (@Shopventory)!

A Guide to Pop-Up Shops

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Summertime is the perfect time for pop-up shops. With everyone out shopping and dining, putting up your own pop-up shop in the midst of this traffic can help you sell more this season. Here are some tips to set yourself up for success in your pop-up endeavors.

1. Take Advantage of Festivals, Events and Trade Shows

Festivals, fairs, and exhibitions are consumer treasure troves for pop-ups. Manning a pop-up shop at one of these can wrangle tons of customers and keep them coming back for more once the event is over. Summer is the perfect time to set up shop at these events, but how do you find out when and where they are?

2. Understand Your Ideal Target Customer

It's an important step because of two reasons:

1) It helps determine which events you should focus on attending 2) Determines who and how you target the people who are most likely to buy from you

For example, if your business is selling a product-line of yoga pants, so your target crowd will most likely frequent healthy lifestyle festivals. Check the local Chamber of Commerce websites for festivals and fairs or alternately, use BizTradeShows.com to find tradeshows you can participate in.

3. Set Up Temporary Seasonal Shops

Pop-ups are short-term, and you should use this fact to your advantage. Landlords would rather have their spaces filled than vacant for a lot of reasons. Reach out to any unfilled locations and negotiate with the landlord; it's possible you may not have to pay rent aside from utilities (water, electricity, Internet, etc.). See if you can work out a deal with mutual benefits. Once you've found the perfect location, make sure your budget can handle any other fees. Business rates and insurance are some to keep in mind.

Sidenote: If you reside in the UK as a vendor, Appear Here is a handy tool for looking up landlords listing vacancies for pop-up shops.

4. Experiment With Merchandise

It may not be readily obvious but pop-ups are a great way to test out whether the new merchandise will be successful. If you made an ideal customer profile and selected a relevant event to participate in, you get to observe the purchasing behavior of  people who share essentially identical characteristics to your usual customers. Use pop-ups shops to check whether your gut feeling about pricing, merchandise or package deals are validated by customers.

5. Get a Mobile Payments Reader

The days of paying with cash are dwindling and almost everyone pays by card now. Make it more convenient for yourself and your customers by getting a mobile card reader (ie. Square, Intuit GoPayments, or PayPal Here). It works with your Apple or Android smartphone and tablet, processing cards quickly and easily. It will save you a ton of time and hassle, plus your customers will find it convenient.

6. Increase Traffic with Social Media

If you already have a strong customer following through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc., flaunt your pop-up initiative. Tweet your location and any specials to get them into your shop or to visit the festival you're selling at. It should NEVER matter whether or not you have followers. You're never too early to start telling your story, sharing your experiences and building up a brand.

Get on your social networks, start listening to what  people are saying and get in on the conversation.

7. Create Drama, Attract Attention and Make it an Experience

Put thought into how you're going to attract customers to your stall. It could be simple, such as through great visual merchandising or it may involve more such as having giveaways.  Add splashes of color, movement, lighting, music, or aromas to make your pop-up memorable and welcoming.

Running a pop-up shop can be a labor of love. Yet with the right preparation, your pop-up can flourish wherever you plant it. Best wishes!