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[9 comments]

Tech Stores Pop Up For the Holidays

November 21, 2013

A little over a year ago, Microsoft opened 30 pop-up stores in mall locations nationwide to sell the Surface tablet over the holiday season. While the sales results on the Surface remain mixed, this foray into disruptive retail has played out well for Microsoft and given them a unique, well-branded kiosk environment to continue to sell the Surface as well as launch new offerings, such as the Kinect and Xbox One.

A few of the other tech giants, namely Google and Intel, seem to have paid notice to this move by Microsoft. This holiday season, each has chosen to enter the retail space with its own distinctly different short-term stores.

Google has opened winter-themed holiday pop-up stores, called Winter Wonderlabs in malls in Annapolis, MD, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paramus, NJ, and Sacramento. A New York City location is in Bryant Park's Winter Village.

[Image: Google Winter Wonderlab]

Constructed within a tent, these winter-themed pop-up stores showcase Google's latest phones, tablets and laptops, including the Nexus 7, Chromecast and the newest line of Chromebooks. Reinforcing the winter theme will be a giant snow globe in which customers will make slow motion videos as they jump around surrounded by CGI snow. Orders will be taken in-store and delivered to a desired destination. Google's Winter Wonderlabs are expected to be open through Dec. 24.

Intel chose the hip, urban areas of NoLita (New York), Lincoln Park (Chicago) and Venice (Los Angeles) to open Intel Experience Stores. These pop-up stores aim to bring the global brand to a local audience and redefine retail as they "appeal to children, adults and everyone in-between." The locations will be staffed by Tech Xperts to answer questions about devices. The stores will partner with the local community to hold events and offer free coffee daily with free movies each Friday.

The Intel stores are designed to physically change three-times a day and the goal is for each to become whatever the community desires. Customers will be able to buy online from within the store and have product delivered to a desired location.

And finally, one of the most highly anticipated pop-up stores for every holiday season since November 2005, the Wired Store will open from Dec. 4 through Dec. 22 in New York City. The Wired Store is known for offering exploration with new technologies and gift shopping. This year's pop-up promises to be a highly-curated, social retail experience. Purchases may be made in-store or online.

Discussion Questions:

Do you see the popularity of pop-up stores rising or declining in the years to come? Which of the pop-up concepts in the article do you find most interesting?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

Which of the pop-up concepts mentioned in the article do you find most interesting?

Comments:

Many consumers have a problem with pop-up stores. When something purchased needs to be exchanged or fails to perform, what recourse does the consumer have?

Manufacturers may do damage to their image by not executing well with pop-up stores. There is a big difference in selling retailers and selling consumers. It is one think to create excitement and introduce products to consumers. It is another thing to sell directly. Apple does well with year-round, not pop-up stores. A better approach is to create the buzz, interest and excitement with pop-up stores, but execute the sale online.

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W. Frank Dell II, CMC, President, Dellmart & Company

Pop-up stores are on the rise for two reasons. One, it gives the OEM or whomever running the pop-up to demonstrate the interactivity of their products more effectively than if displayed in a retail distribution partner.

Two is the learning experience from being able to showcase some new products that have not yet reached broader distribution.

It's not about the sales they generate, but more about customer learning and the potential marketing exposure.

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Robert DiPietro, GVP Product Strategy & Business Development, Affinion Group

Pop-up stores is a terrific concept to generate excitement, interest, and demonstrate the art of the possible. Consumer technology is permeating every fiber of our lives and changing how we interact with each other, retailers, and reshaping our expectations. Pop-up stores offer companies such as Google or Intel a wonderfully controlled stage to immerse consumers in new ways of "enriching" our lives using their technologies (yes, for some, all this technology is highly invasive and detrimental to life as we know it).

I'm just not sure I've ever seen so many happy people as in Google's 20 second spot on YouTube experiencing their Winter Wonderlab!

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Mohamed Amer, Vice President, Global Integrated Retail Unit, SAP

Pop-ups are, by definition, new, so shoppers will be interested in exploring the store. I like to see innovative merchants - especially CPGs - take part in these. Virtual public stores (like those on the windows and walls in subways around the world) are also very flexible and can be even more innovative, since the merchant needn't be restricted to the physical world.

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Ralph Jacobson, Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive, IBM

It is likely the popularity of pop-up stores will continue to rise, especially as online brands and start-up retailers seek to build awareness and visibility in key markets and at important purchase times of the year.

The Wired Store has made a mark for itself with the unique variety of products offered. Given it is open just two and a half weeks each year, it has also become a sought-after destination for holiday shoppers.

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Jeff Hall, President, Second To None

I love pop-up stores. They can be as ephemeral as art and they exist just while consumers are in the market and no longer. They widen the channel when needed, then go away until needed again.

For today's tech brands, the pop-ups or kiosks will help make what's behind the etail or mobile screens tangible, real and desirable.

For high-consideration tech, it may matter less whether the sales are closed then and there. What matters more is that shoppers get to handle and experience beautiful products, then close the purchase in their own time and own way.

Pop-ups are simultaneously an ad medium, a selling channel, and an experience showcase for many product categories, not just tech. They offer the thrill of discovery and a convenient way to learn. I think we will continue to see more of them.

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James Tenser, Principal, VSN Strategies

Pop-ups are fun and a great way to immerse the consumer in products they may not otherwise have been able to experience first hand. And they are effective BECAUSE they are not focused on the selling aspect. The consumer can wander in, enjoy the experience with not pressure to buy.

As for the format, well, that will depend on the brand. Each of the Pop-up brands outlined in today's article brought just the right experience for their brands, IMHO.

Yep, they are here to stay!

Lee Kent, Let's meet share and succeed in Retail, YourRetailAuthority

Pop up stores are certainly on the rise and retailers will continue to use this channel to entice customers with new innovative concepts. With the pressures of showrooming and the need to get in front of customers in a fresh way, this allows for high levels of engagement and at a reduced cost. This fulfills many of the omni-channel premises that customers now demand: individual targeted offers, personalization, cross channel integration and more.

Not only will we see more pop-ups, but they will be even more advanced and relevant to the shopping trip of today.

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Jesse Karp, Omnichannel Consulting Manager & Loyalty Practice Lead, Cognizant Business Consulting

I agree that the popularity of pop-up stores will continue to rise for at least a few years. In addition to being new and innovative and creating excitement amongst consumers, they make business sense as they help retailers test new concepts quickly and economically. I also agree that execution is important, primarily with respect to the brand image of the particular manufacturer or retailer hosting it.

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Alexander Rink, CEO, 360pi

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