In the World of pop-ups, Thoughts fly fast and furious.
But who would have thought that one of the freshest would come from a legacy brand from Stratham, New Hampshire? We’ll call it bend retail advertisements. Timberland recently launched a”bend” retail pop-up store that is filled with life — literally. The 3,500-square-foot retail place (conveniently located on NYC’s trendy Fifth Avenue) is full of 2,000″native New England plant species.” Birch trees and terrariums scatter the floor, and one wall is wholly covered with hanging plants and moss. Off of the main area are”engaging weather experiences” — like a digital”rain room” and photo-ready winter scene.
The Fifth Avenue store is one of five Timberland flex retail locations opening across the nation for the fall and winter season. “Flex,” or elastic, stores signify a substantial shift in retail space conception. These stores are easy to assemble and innovate, like a pop-up, but include many elements of a conventional retail experience, such as longer staying power and larger retail location.
Easy assembly and maximum customer benefit
For Timberland, flex retail spaces are conveniently available for customers when they need the brand new — and for New Yorkers, that’s the first freezing rain or winter snowfall. Timberland plans to appeal to urban dwellers if they are fervid hikers or casual meanderers — and to lure curious passersby with Instagram-ready backdrops and unexpected design elements.
This isn’t Timberland’s first foray into flex retail. Last year, the footwear maker launched several flex-retail pop-up spots around the nation. Kate Kibler, Timberland’s vice president of direct-to-consumer retail, explained the pop-ups are created for simple assembly — and to stick out from traditional brick-and-mortar solutions. “The thing with retail today is every store shouldn’t be the same,” states Kibler. “That one-size-fits-all approach is something of the past.”
Flex retail aids Timberland connect with customers offline without having to commit to a yearlong lease in a pricey website. Unlike pop-ups, flex retail is meant to last for several weeks at a time — and may be set in a bigger area, so customers can browse a comprehensive range of products. The concept is easier, and less costly, to grow than conventional brick-and-mortar stores. Timberland’s flex stores are designed ahead and consist of easy-to-assemble components. Generally speaking, it only takes 3–6 days to construct the pop-up. But first and foremost, the initiative provides customers with a unique, thorough brand experience.
Flex spaces can stand the test of time
Timberland is only one company finding innovative ways to provide their clients memorable offline adventures. This summer, French beauty company L’Occitane en Provence reimagined its flagship Manhattan place by incorporating optimum opportunities for customer experience. The store, located just a few minutes from Timberland’s Fifth Avenue flex shop, uses digital backdrops and stationary bikes to let shoppers believe they are from the French countryside. But L’Occitane does not end there. Every 3 months, the installation will alter — enticing customers to return sometimes and become involved with a new brand second.
In the race to lure customers back to brick-and-mortar retail, bend retail rides the line between the all-out fun of pop-ups together with the consistency and dependability of traditional retail. Clients may initially see Timberland to snap photos along with the foliage, but they’ll return again and again to immerse themselves in the adventure — and stock on boots and outerwear.
Don’t just offer a product —invite an experience
It’s not surprising that more brands are putting their creative minds to work in producing store concepts that provide customers with more than product. This holiday season, shoppers are called to be out in force, as the economic mood remains bullish. But online retailers, especially Amazon, are expected to account for 57 percent of all purchases. To compete, brick-and-mortar stores can’t just put out a new screen of sweaters — they need to provide their customers a unique, valuable experience.
Consider the pop-up shop that Wild One, a de facto lifestyle company for pet owners (yes, it is something ), is hosting in NYC’s Nolita from October through January. As you might expect, Wild One invites you and your pet to learn more about the distance when indulging in beer, wine and puppy treats.
The fun doesn’t stop there. Pet owners and animal lovers are encouraged to return a lot of times, because of Wild One’s lineup of interactive events: movie nights, intimate concerts, pet portraits by local artists and continuing puppy adoptions. The final result is another flex encounter, as a consequence of the pop-ups’ longer stay and reliance on theatrical props. Wild One is hoping to capitalize on millennials’ shopping habits: 51% report they will buy gifts for their pet this holiday season.
For all the hype that the”pop-up” trend has elicited, flex retail implies that the fascination with experiential shopping is legitimate. Millennials and Gen Z shoppers aren’t just seeking to discover the perfect product for their needs — they’re excited to immerse themselves in the appearance, touch and feel of a brand new. Marketers should take heed. Now more than ever, it’s quite important that companies consider their holistic brand aesthetic and pinpoint the encounters customers may enjoy while using their products. Thenthey could find ways to come up with an original environment that arouses shoppers and showcases products in their”natural” setting.
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