Why your pop-up shop needs a people counter system

Last week, a member of our team was traveling through Reno-Tahoe International Airport and spotted an outstanding pop-up shop from the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows ski resort in the terminal.

Squaw Valley staff were engaging passengers as they deplaned and getting them, like, totally stoked about skiing/snowboarding/shovel racing (It’s a real thing, you guys. They have a world championship and everything) in the Tahoe area.

And not only that, they were giving away free same-day lift tickets and selling merchandise to departing travelers who hadn’t bought a vacation souvenir (something we’re guilty of every time we travel). They even had a lounge area where weary travelers could sit/lay/sprawl on comfy couches and watch branded Squaw Valley videos.

Image of the entrance of the Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows Mountain Concierge circa 2016.

The whole experience was a win-win for everyone involved, but especially for the ski resort that was making full use of the incredible opportunity to engage with travelers the very moment their vacation begins. 

But the one flaw we spotted, the one thing this pop-up was missing to complete their massive branding and exposure opportunity, was a way to accurately determine how many exposures they were generating with the travelers in the airport; how many face-to-face interactions they were getting, and the effectiveness of those interactions. All of these metrics (and then some) could have been achieved with a mobile people counting solution.

Now, before we get too deep into the weeds on this, let’s take a step back and first discuss…


What is a pop-up shop?

Simply put, a pop-up is a short-term retail engagement (lasting from mere hours to multiple months), giving shoppers a limited time to experience a brand and its products before the shop disappears, generating some real FoMO!

For retailers, it’s an opportunity to test out new markets, build up new revenue streams, or generally test interest in a product or branding scheme. The pop-up shop has become a wildly popular form of retail-tainment, and brands from Samsung to Kate Spade to Cards Against Humanity have found success in the pop-up space. It has grown so popular that Newbury Street, a popular shopping district in Boston, has specifically become known for its pop-up installations.

We won’t go into the nitty gritty of opening a pop-up shop in this article. For that, take a look at this excellent 9-chapter how-to from Shopify that covers the necessary steps in exceptional detail.


Why is a pop-up shop a good idea for your business?

The simplest answer here is that a pop-up shop sharply reduces the barriers to entry for a new retail venture. In general, setting up a pop-up shop means much lower costs compared to attempting a full-scale, traditional retail engagement.

Regardless of whether you’re a new business in search of a proof-of-concept, or an established player looking to test a new market, a pop-up shop can be an extremely effective tool, especially because in can be done so inexpensively.

According to Shopify’s 9 part plan, there are only a handful of costs for an effective pop-up launch, many of which could be negotiated due to the limited engagement, or lessened/eliminated based on the type of business:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Internet
  • POS
  • Credit Card Fees
  • Merchandising Fixtures
  • Furniture
  • Checkout Counter
  • Lighting
  • Paint
  • Inventory
  • Window Display Props
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Food and Drink

Source: https://www.shopify.com/guides/ultimate-guide-to-pop-up-shops/why-run-a-pop-up


So, for the sake of argument, let’s say you’ve done the research, crunched the numbers, built the business plan and you’re ready to hit the launch button on your pop-up idea. How will you know if your new venture is successful?

Yes, it’s possible to judge success based on gross sales, but some people (like us) prefer a more proactive approach. Truthfully, gross sales only tells you some of the story. What about the potential customers who walked by but didn’t decide to stop and say hi? Or even those who engaged with your staff but decided not to buy…how many of those interactions did you miss out on, and how can you modify your sales process to capitalize on those opportunities going forward?


How to build a better pop-up with people counting technology

The answer to these questions is people tracking technology. A people counter system, like those from Flonomics, is an array of sensors placed around a retail location that not only tally visitors as they enter a retail space, but also track customer movements around the sales floor. For a more detailed explanation of the whats/hows/whys of people counter technology, check out What Is People Counting Anway? on the Flonomics Blog.

And after you’ve spent all the time, money and energy building your pop-up experience, wouldn’t it be nice to have some concrete data to judge the effectiveness of your store?

Using a people counter system, and the Flonomics Retail Performance Manager, a pop-up entrepreneur can go way beyond merely knowing how many people visited your store. For example, by tracking customer movements and average time spent in-store (or, in-pop-up, as it were), you can better understand effectiveness of your sales people and tactics. Moreover, depending on the length and frequency of your pop-up engagement(s), analysis of people counter results could determine which retail partners, locations, days, times, etc. are best for your budding business–a determination that would be backed up by cold, hard data.

And the best part: it’s probably both easier and cheaper to pull off than you’d think. For a relatively small financial and time investment, a pop-up people counter system can be purchased and installed for your next retail engagement. Then when your pop-up ends, this portable system tears down in minutes and is easily re-installed at each future pop-up location.

Ready to learn more about how Flonomics people counting technology can help elevate your pop-up game? Contact us!