Piperlime 3-D: The Store Pops Up

Discussion
Aug 12, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

In a world where pop-up stores seem to come out of nowhere, another has its
sites set on Manhattan and this time it’s Piperlime. Piperlime? Yes, Gap Inc.’s
online-only business selling top brands in apparel, handbags, jewelry and shoes
is heading for a September 9 opening in SoHo just in time for Fashion Week.

“We are excited to share this experience with the public,” said
Jennifer Gosselin, general manager of Piperlime, in a press release.  “It’s
the first time that Piperlime will be available in a three-dimensional environment,
where customers can touch and feel product, put together head-to-toe outfits,
and pick personal favorites from exclusive jewelry items to vintage-inspired
tops to the must-have-boot for fall.”

The e-tailer plans to celebrate
its first step into the brick and mortar world, albeit temporary, with an in-store
event on Fashion’s Night Out
on September 10. The store will stay open until 11 p.m. for customers to get
the chance to meet and get styling advice from fashion editor Rachel Zoe, take
photos with cast members from Project Runway and more.

Piperlime will
also introduce the “styling loft” within the store.
This is an area where “customers can show their own creative style.” 
Each day, shoppers will have the opportunity to style and submit outfits they
think meets a “creative brief” by Piperlime. Individuals from this
group will have the opportunity to have their looks showcased in the store
and win a gift card in the process.

The Piperlime pop-up, which will remain
open until October 3, will include edited assortments with brands such as 7
For All Mankind, AG Adriano Goldschmied, Cynthia Vincent, Frye and Marc by
Marc Jacobs.

“It’s going to do well because it’s going to help their
brand awareness penetrate into mainstream,” Christina Norsig, the chief
executive and founder of Pop-Up Insider, an online exchange for temporary pop-up
real estate, told Crain’s New York Business. “It’s a great
way for them to drive traffic.”

Ms. Norsig’s biggest concern, given its potential popularity, is that the
store may not carry enough merchandise to meet demand.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of the approach Piperlime is taking
with its pop-up store in New York? Do you see pop-ups as a viable idea for
other online-only retailers? Which would you most like to see pop-up?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Piperlime 3-D: The Store Pops Up"


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Dick Seesel
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Pop-up stores have become a great tool for creating brand awareness and for driving traffic to retailers’ websites. And, most noticeably in the case of Target, Manhattan-based pop-up stores become precursors to successful brick-and-mortar locations. So it’s possible that Piperlime has an agenda other than simply driving website traffic and awareness: To experiment with concepts that would work in a physical store.

Piperlime’s primary focus on branded shoes makes it a much different kind of business than other Gap divisions, but also provides potential future competition for DSW nationwide.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

I’d like to see Piperlime go full blown into retail. With all the hoopla over Zappos, Piperlime’s much friendlier interface got overlooked and, with the economy improving, I see room for a multi-brand, multi-channel shoe retailer that sits between Payless, DSW and department stores.

Back to pop ups. Am I the only one who is getting tired of this tactic? I think it’s time to evolve the pop up concept into more of a multi-channel order and pick-up hub vs. a short term retail play. Or, leave it to the truly original guerrilla marketers like Rei Kawakubo at Comme des Garcons. Piperlime is a natural to drive the next permutation before less obvious traditional retailers do (Sears).

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
10 years 8 months ago

Obviously, the timing and location of Piperlime’s pop-up indicates that this is as much about generating industry buzz as it is about testing the concept at retail. These objectives are by no means mutually exclusive (although the test results aren’t necessarily indicative of the results that might come from a full roll-out).

The key point here is that the continuing softness in the commercial real estate market offers numerous opportunities for retailers of all sizes to test new items and concepts. This is the incubator for the innovation that will ultimately revitalize retail, and the opportunities are there for both corporate concepts like Piperlime as well as concepts from new retail entrepreneurs.

Ryan Mathews
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

I also like pop-ups (provided the tactic doesn’t get over used). Carefully deployed they could do a great deal to lift any online business. We forget that even in this enlightened age there still is a large consumer segment not comfortable with online shopping.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Pop-up stores are an interesting phenomenon. I like what Gap is planning to do for Piperlime. The timing and location can create the “perfect storm” for them. I also see this as a precursor to brick and mortar in specifically selected high-end, heavy traffic locations.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

Pop-up stores are certainly a way to get in touch with a broader consumer base and to build awareness of the brand. If an effort is made to collect consumer insights the information could be very valuable because many of these consumers will be people who have not gone to the online store. It will be important for companies to be mindful of where the pop-ups are placed and the length of time they stay. Who knows what the maximum effect is at this point?

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 8 months ago
This isn’t a store. It is a live 3-D commercial. The entire effort is to build awareness for the website. Gap, Inc. sees the future in retail and it is online. It is not a precursor to Piperlime brick and mortar stores. It might be a precursor to brick and mortar boutiques developed exclusively to support the online business. Consider if you are the CEO of Gap, Inc. You compare the financial statements of your divisions. The balance sheet inventory line on Piperlime will be minuscule compared to the other divisions. The comparison P&Ls will show a minute percentage for labor and rent for Piperlime compared to the others. Your conclusion will clearly be that the division that we must build and focus our resources on is Piperlime. This approach is valuable for any online retailer that wants to increase their awareness. View it as a commercial, not a store. If the idea is not to drive the online business, it is much effort for nothing.
Marge Laney
Guest
10 years 8 months ago

I agree with Gene that this is simply a marketing endeavor to raise Piperlime’s visibility during the Fashion Night Out extravaganza. And it’s a great idea! Pop-ups are a terrific way to raise awareness of online offerings as they not only raise the visibility of the brand but they give prospective customers a rare opportunity to interact with the product, personally.

We as consumers move easily and often from online to offline and vice versa so this is comfortable and will definitely generate lots of traffic at both the pop-up and online.

Sue Dowd
Guest
Sue Dowd
10 years 8 months ago

Will be interested to see how their user experience is brought to life in the Pop Up. Too often we see brands that are played out across physical and virtual platforms in a manner that is inconsistent with customer expectations, watering down the image and confusing–even disappointing–the customer. An example of this can be found in TD Bank’s latest promotions using a squishy green mascot (is the mascot reinforcing the in-branch or online banking experience?). Your thoughts?

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