People 'n' Issues

Pop-up stores: a great science experiment

March 10th, 2017
Pop-up stores can be found in nearly every mall. In addition to the fun-factor, these stores offer an opportunity to capture customer behavior patterns which can establish what works and what doesn’t, writes PATRICK MAPHOPHA of NetApp.
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Enter any mall today and you are likely to come across the latest retail fad – the pop-up store. With the concept of ‘here today and gone tomorrow’ at its centre, this fresh, novel and creative concept has taken the world by storm. According a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research entitled Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy Report, the pop-up retail sector generated over £2.3 billion in turnover over the past 12 months in the UK alone. Additionally the report showed that 44% of consumers have visited a pop-up shop in the last 12 months.

South Africa is no exception, as many international brands have opened their doors in the form of the pop-up store to test the unique market and gain brand exposure. For example, a well-known ice cream brand was one of the first to set up a pop-up shop in Johannesburg, offering customers the opportunity to experiment with flavours like crumbed chocolate cupcake, mint shortcake, chocolate brownie and frosted rose petals.

Pop-up stores are so much more than trivial creativity – they are also a science experiment

Despite its ‘fun’ factor, the pop-up store is far more than just a creative, novel idea – it is also an opportunity to capture vital customer behavioural and spending patterns through an integrated cloud point. That data can establish what works and what doesn’t, and determine whether a permanent store should be established in a particular market. In other words, a new company introducing their offering in an agile way via pop-up stores can experiment with consumer confidence. If enough growth or success materializes, the steps towards a permanent location may be taken.

According to the IDC’s Retail Insights Top Ten Predictions Report, no less than 40% of new retail applications purchased will be deployed in the cloud to speed and secure business objectives in 2017. In addition, according to the Big Data in Global Retail Market Report, which was commissioned by NOVONOUS, big data in the global retail market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 35%.

The cloud has the silver lining

A smart data solution is therefore integral to make the most of the pop-up opportunity by offering management, durability and analytics capabilities. Last year, Netapp announced new updates to its solutions portfolio for the Data Fabric, an abstraction layer to improve, control and simplify the movement of data in the hybrid cloud.

One option allows shop owners, for example to massively accelerate the movement of large data sets into Amazon Web Services (AWS) for data analysis. Once processed, the analysed data can be brought back on-premises if required. And just like the pop-up shop the service can be purchased on a ‘pay as you go’ basis which means it can be easily turned on and off as needed. Other options include the ability to use the same consistent data management both on-premises and in the public cloud – meaning that data can be controlled and accessed wherever it’s needed most. And finally, once data “cools”, meaning it is not accessed and analysed regularly any more, the same functionalities provide efficient backup to the cloud to help address compliance and data protection requirements.

In short, shop owners may leverage the benefits of the hybrid cloud and analytics applications as a service to determine aspects like buyer behaviour, identify market opportunities, adapt research and development, and manage data with business value holistically. Through the provision of these dedicated applications, store owners can even go so far as to connect the pop-up store experience in real time. For example, retailers could engage with buyers at the POS.

Taking the pop-up store to the next level

Once a foundational cloud portfolio has been established, the pop-up store can be transformed into a data collection machine. A global example that illustrates this was the recent campaign launched by a pet store in the US called Barkshop Live, which specialises in animal-antic toys. In order to test their products, they invited dog owners and their furry counterparts to test out their chewable offerings in person. Data was then collected around which toys were favoured via RFID-enabled vests that were fitted around the dogs. The data collected and stored through the cloud allowed the retailer to determine the bestselling products in order to increase turnover figures.

Pop-up stores are a great way to test the market before making a total investment commitment. As customer data increases towards the brontobyte, the time to control, manage, secure and move data across on-premises and public cloud resources has never been more prevalent. The evaluation of customer data could spell the evolution of the pop-up store towards a permanent feature – whether it’s through an online domain or a traditional bricks and mortar store.

  • Patrick Maphopha, SE manager for Africa at NetApp.

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