How Pop-Up Grocers Can Navigate 2023 Successfully

by | Feb 1, 2023 | food retail, Grocery

Imagine all the planning and effort it takes to design retail stores. Now, imagine all that effort going into planning a retail store that operates for only a few weeks. What are the strategies behind this pop-up grocers concept that is becoming more popular lately? Progressive Grocer journalist Bridget Goldschmidt interviewed Emily Schildt, founder and CEO of Pop Up Grocer, a New York-based company founded in early 2019. 

When Progressive Grocer asked what considerations go into finding a location for a temporary store, like a pop-up grocery stand, Schildt responded, “We assess where the brands … would want to go, where they want to support retail expansion and/or validate sales for future distribution.” Here is what else she and other grocery experts had to say.

Key Takeaways:

  • Approximately 86% of customers will pay more for exceptional customer experiences, and 80% still purchase items in person, making pop-up grocers an excellent way to engage with shoppers.
  • Successful pop-up grocers highlight private labels they use, think beyond the farmers’ market, ensure the experience counts, and leverage new-found relationships with customers.
  • Food retailers can find greater success for their pop-up grocers when utilizing omnichannel strategies, like incorporating food delivery and online ordering.

4 Strategies for Pop-Up Grocers to Use in 2023    

Big-name brands use pop-up shops to sell products while developing new ways to engage with shoppers. The ability to connect in a more personal manner focuses on improving the overall customer experience. As you can see from the infographic below, shoppers are shopping closer to home, doing more in-person grocery shopping, and spending more while shopping.

 Infographic of current shopping behaviors.

Image Courtesy of Agile Retail

In fact, 86% of customers will pay more for excellent customer experiences, and more than three-fourths (80%) still purchase items in person. What strategies can help food retailers create exceptional customer experiences while enabling more in-person locations? Let us see what the experts say. 

1. Highlight Private Labels   

Pop-up grocers are an excellent way for grocery stores to showcase their branded products. Consider hosting a taste test that includes house-brand and branded food or creating a pop-up store that sells only house-brand products. A grocery retailer looking for more engagement can create a pop-up stand inviting visitors to buy its branded product line.

Big names like Walmart have launched a temporary grocery store to revamp their grocery offerings. This not only turned the e-commerce site into a brick-and-mortar store. It also achieved its primary goal of selling Jet products and cookware. Wal-Mart did not set up the pop-up to highlight a private-label line, but they did design it to showcase a specific product line. It was a successful venture. Grocery retailers can follow a similar strategy to design experiences that add value to their brands and effectively drive brand consideration and product education. 

2. Think Beyond the Farmers’ Market   

Locally sourced grocery retailers can use pop-up grocers that offer the freshest products in new and exhilarating ways, opening up more flexible paths in terms of location, timing, and partnerships. Farmers’ markets are typically held on certain days and at certain times of the year, but you can host a pop-up anytime, anywhere. Grocers can encourage shoppers to try organic ingredients, seasonal recipes, or even holiday-themed shops. Try building experiences near popular occasions like food festivals. 

Create a pop-up being mindful of timing that helps grocers and consumers connect on a more personal level. When it comes to locations, pop-ups provide grocers the freedom to try out a new market. Anyone interested in expansion can set up a temporary space and conduct local market research to decide where to invest next. Flexible locations also let grocers connect with more customers and draw new customers via individualized experiences. 

3. Make the Experience Count     

Regardless of the goals you set for your pop-up grocery shop, prioritize memorable and shareable experiences that translate well on social media. A good example would be when Honey Nut Cheerios made a name for themselves in Toronto by creating an interactive and educational-based grocery store. No matter how daring your design is, it is necessary to design an experience that engages the consumer without overpowering them. Little things like easy-to-navigate amenities and caring workers are very critical to ensure a positive experience for your visitors and success for your pop-up grocery shop as you navigate 2023.

4. Extend the Conversation

Pop-up shops are only the first step when it comes to customer retention. To capitalize on these new relationships, grocery retailers need to continue the conversation with consumers after they exit the pop-up. Promotional campaigns that emerge from pop-ups can maintain the experience while driving customer loyalty. For example, sensory pop-ups and branded photo booths featuring different tastes and smells encourage visitors to share their experiences via social media, creating a valuable cache of user-generated content. Incentives, such as the opportunity to win products or gift cards by sharing photos with branded hashtags, further boost this kind of engagement. 

Consumers today are keen on digital engagement with brands, with 57% likely to download a mobile app to earn loyalty reward points. Additionally, 45% prefer to access in-store promotional offers via text/SMS. Grocery retailers should therefore prioritize engagement through app integrations and special incentives. 

Bar graph of the top three leading grocery delivery apps' daily downloads.

Image Courtesy of The Big Picture

Are you looking to measure retention, build brand loyalty, or collect consumer data that you can use to tailor future reach? Consider offering digital coupons to pop-up attendees to redeem on their next purchase. Such tactics allow grocery retailers to meet customers online, where they want to be reached.

See How Other Pop-Up Grocers Plan to Navigate a Successful 2023

Food retailers looking for new ideas, like strategies for developing a pop-up grocery stand, should attend the next SIAL America show in March. We bring together innovators in the food and beverage industry to allow food retailers like you to collaborate, brainstorm, and find better ways to navigate 2023 successfully. See how other food retailers are using pop-up grocers to boost profits.  

To attend the next SIAL America Food Show this March, sign up today. If you are interested in becoming an exhibitor, register on our site and someone will get in touch with you shortly.