David Jones launches ‘pop down shop’ concept

popdownDavid Jones unveiled a new pop-up concept space on the lower level of its Elizabeth street store in Sydney’s CBD last week.

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Dubbed the ‘pop down shop’ due to its location on the lower ground floor of the department store, the pop-up space is a permanent fixture and allows existing vendors and outside brands to showcase products.

Online leather boutique, The Daily Edited, is the first store to make use of the space. The brand’s pop-up space was designed exclusively by celebrity interior designer and The Block judge, Darren Palmer, and will offer a range of leather goods including wallets, totes and clutch bags.

“Pop up spaces offer both existing retailers and new brands the opportunity to create unique shopping experiences,” David Jones chief marketing officer, David Robinson, told Inside Retail Weekly. “Especially for online brands, such as The Daily Edited, pop-up shops provide an invaluable way to engage customers face to face and educate them about their brand and products.”

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Robinson said that the concept space allows brands to test the bricks and mortar format, without the pressure of running their own store. “Another example of this is the Lunar New Year Designer Collections, which we are currently housing in On Seven at the Elizabeth Street Store along with a dumpling bar pop-up, which offers customers access to Chinese designers in celebration of the festival.

“For existing brands in our stables, it offers them a chance to promote new products or to be part of a broader campaign; for example, our recent Beauty Tribe On Tour pop-ups which offered our customers beauty consultations, makeovers and the opportunity to buy key products. Last year we also created an offsite pop-up store in Bourke Street Mall to highlight our offering for Spring Racing, including hats, fashion and accessories from existing brands.”

Robinson said the choice of location for the ‘pop down shop’ on Elizabeth Street’s lower ground floor, was born from the desire to take advantage of, “the key thoroughfare through to Westfield and our Market Street store’s food hall that has steady foot traffic.”

People are drawn to the pop-up format argued Robinson, with the concept useful for promoting brand awareness and encouraging spontaneous purchase.

“For David Jones, having a permanent space which we can refresh with different pop-up ventures throughout the year, allows us to reactively reflect what is happening in the market place and offer a more relevant and dynamic customer experience.”

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Matt Newell, executive strategy director at retail strategy agency, The General Store, said pop-up spaces can be immensely powerful when used correctly.

“Unfortunately, the term has been commandeered by lazy brands who use it as a thinly veiled attempt to add some gloss to a space they didn’t have the budget or imagination to execute properly,” Newell told Inside Retail Weekly. “And that’s made them a little unpopular lately. But used correctly, pop-ups can create real excitement around a brand or product. They can incentivise shoppers to try an experience they might not otherwise get around to if the time pressure isn’t applied. So it can be a good engagement and conversion tool.”

Newell added that location strategy for pop-up spaces comprises two parts.

“The first strategy is to pop up where your customers are. Supercheap Auto [SCA] have two pop-up stores at the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercar race where there are thousands of SCA customers at the event and the pop-up stores offer those customers a great experience for four days only. The second option is to pop-up in a remote location – but to execute it in a highly theatrical way so that customers will seek the experience out.”

David Jones will be leaning on strategy two for its ‘pop down shop’ concept, according to Newell.

“The Daily Edited [TDE] in particular will be the key traffic driver, with 86,000 followers on Instagram. TDE offer a range of leather goods featuring personalised monograms. And the ‘Wellness Store’ offers a well-edited range, but presumably is playing more of a supporting role. Moving forward, there is plenty of opportunity for dialling up the retail theatre to make sure it remains interesting and buzz-worthy.

However, the devil is in the detail, with Newell asserting that the pop down concept’s success depends on how well it is executed.

Pop-ups can make a significant contribution to sales as well as publicity. Supercheap Auto’s pop-up stores are the network’s highest performing stores for the four days they operate, but many of them fail as well.

“Usually, because they were the wrong tool for the job. Brand owners frequently confuse them as a cheap way to execute a retail concept, which is a highly problematic approach because pop-ups are not cheap to do well, largely because it is very difficult to get any scale efficiencies.”

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