If you run an e-commerce business, you have enough data right now to do a local popup  experience with a retailer or on your own. What is the key to a successful local experience? Knowing where your customers are, what they buy and how to reach them.

Armed with this data, you can tailor a local experience for your online customers, and work with either a local retailer partner, or host your own pop up experience.

What is a pop up experience?

 If your products aren’t typically available in a customer’s local area in person, a pop up  shop exposes your products to a new audience. Pop up shops can be at markets, at a local retailer or even online in collaboration with a local retailer. According to a recent Wall Street Journal small business report, digitally native brands have the advantage of data about their customers that other brands do not always have. 

Through your sales analytics data (scroll down for a how-to export and analyze ) you already know who your customers are, and you can tailor social and online advertising to others who are similar, in that market area. You can use your retailers as home base to host a virtual or online event, a collaboration, or a pop up shop in their store. You could even use the data to determine if an in person, outdoor event in the region is worthwhile, by contacting your customers in that area and surveying them about their intentions to attend local events.

Where to find the data you need to determine where your pop up experience should happen:

Open your e-commerce store. In Woo Commerce (WordPress), you’ll find the data under orders> CSV export. Sort by state, city, then zip code

In SquareSpace, you’ll find it under commerce> orders>CSV Export. Sort by location (state, then city+ zip code).

Create sub sections in your Excel sheet by adding rows between data groups and total these by region, sales by product, sales by dollar amount. Look for patterns or larger groupings that indicate that region is a good area for a pop up shop. 

You’re looking for a regional concentration of customers that you already have, a retailer in the area whom  you support or complement, or a retailer where you can host an event for a short time. You’re looking for a place where a higher concentration of your customers exist to appeal to them to attend an experience (outdoor class, pop up shop, online seminar, or virtual workshop.) The key pieces of information you need are where are your sales concentrated, what are the customers buying, is it enough of a market to hold a popup or experience. 

If you do not have a retailer in this area, now is the time to start looking for one. If you cannot find a retailer that’s a perfect fit, you might find one with complementary products or you might decide to host an event of your own. 

Armed with this data, you can also tailor your marketing:

You can send out promotional emails to just this customer group

You can geo-fence digital marketing ads around this geographic area

You can tailor the product that this particular customer segment is interested in, as you’ll know what this group has purchased in the past

Pandemic-friendly pop up ideas:

Even with a pandemic, doing a virtual pop up with a retailer is a smart idea! 

  • You can send your products to a local retailer (aka, a trunk show), along with promoting the pop up on your social media, the retailer’s social media and local business development social media.  
  • You can host a Zoom popup or a Facebook live pop up experience at a local retailer to boost both your and their sales. 

The appeal of a local or collaborative online event is that you can connect with customers, find out their product preferences and experiences, connect with a retailer and sell product or services. But you can do this knowing you do not have to have high expense and overhead of opening a location; the time and money commitment is small. You can use this to see if working with a local retailer is a good fit for both of you.

Work with local retailers to send product and host a special pop up experience virtually. A virtual experience might even include a lesson (on video), a live video chat or even just a product promo with your local retailer for a defined period of time.  You can send product samples, offer special discounts and opportunities for customers to win product or prizes. Or you could tailor an experience around your own travels to a particular region for personal vacation time, and write part of your personal trip off your taxes as a business expense. 

Additional pandemic friendly ideas:

  • Host a regional how-to workshop online and invite people in that region to join you for a special online event tailored for their region. This could be hosted virtually, or outdoors (depending on your product and the location)
  • Host a pop up shop at a local retailer, or a local farm or craft market location
  • Have a ‘product tasting’ –where current customers can bring friends to experience your products. In a pandemic world, this might be held outside at a ‘farm market’ style event, or outdoor center like a large park. 
  • Contact a valued and important customer to host an in-home show of your products and services for their closest friends or relatives. 
  • Host a product “trunk show” – fashion designers routinely do this, so can sewing pattern designers, artists and others who create samples or limited-edition products.

Pop up events add excitement for your customers and your retailers – and they boost sales for you! 

Using your data to mine for opportunities to connect with local customers is a terrific way to boost sales, understand customer motivation, plan new products and launch new products. And it’s within the reach of even very small entrepreneurs, who have access to a treasure trove of sales and customer data for their online businesses from their online commerce applications.