How E-Commerce Retailer Wings & Horns Uses Pop-Ups To Reach New Audiences

October 19, 2016

In this age, past sources of differentiation have been commoditized: Now every company can claim fair pricing, timely service, and quick distribution. Today it’s easy for your customers to know as much about your products, services, competitors, and pricing as you do.

So how are retailers standing out in this e-commerce dominated world? A commitment to customer satisfaction and human interaction.

The crucial element in any customer experience is still people, no matter how much technology has transformed the landscape. Many online retailers are now looking to evolve their customer relationship, building from their e-commerce success, and opening curated retail experiences in relevant cities in unique spaces to connect more deeply with their customers.

At thisopenspace, we’ve been lucky to work with hundreds of retailers, small and large alike, online and brick and mortar. A couple recent highlights include the Puff Daddy Bad Boys Records 20-year anniversary in New York and Harley Davidson themed cafe in Toronto.

This month, wings + horns, a popular local Vancouver menswear brand, opened its X showroom in NYC—the first of several planned additions for 2016. Pop-up showrooms are relatively easy to execute with the right amount of planning and can be the perfect way to test a market for a short period of time before committing to a full store. For wings+horns, launching a temporary showroom in NYC means they get to get to know their customers better and learn what they want from a physical retail environment.

The decision to expand their brand from ecommerce to brick and mortar was clearly right for wings+horns and is a strategy that can be replicated by retailers of any size.

Each brand will have unique goals that they’ll expect to accomplish through doing a pop-up, but at the end of the day, like any marketing efforts, these goals should always fit into and support our overall business goals. And just like any other goal, marketing goals should be measurable.

After working with hundreds of brands to find the perfect space for their retail concept, we’ve found that pop-up goals typically fit into one of four buckets:

Generate Revenue

A pop-up shop can be the perfect way to amplify the revenue stream to your existing ecommerce business. A short-term rental doesn’t cost nearly as much as going all in when you get started, and if you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you could rake in significant profits for your business while avoiding the traditional risk retailers can face.

Knifewear, purveyors of handmade Japanese knives, set up a several pop-up shops in a new market before opening a permanent store. They do it profitably too. Keeping to a minimalist store design they keep the focus solely on the product. This allows Knifewear to set up in a half-day and bring in significant revenue. To this day, their Summer 2014 Vancouver shop holds the record for the most profitable pop-up shop powered by thisopenspace.

Increase brand awareness

Standing out of the crowd these days is getting tougher and tougher. With so many online retailers competing for attentions, fighting for space in the interwebs is no easy task. Rather than duke it out with Facebook ads, SEO, or other online channels, one of the greatest ways to create awareness for your brand or generate buzz for a new product is with a pop-up store.

One of the best examples of this is the recent pop-up done by Herschel, another thisopenspace guest, promoting it’s Coca Cola collaboration, where they offered “limited-edition” merchandise. The hype around this short term offering was enormous and the illusion of scarcity skyrocketed demand for their products.


“Pop-ups are supportive elements to our retail strategy and key elements in our brand building and marketing strategy. At Herschel Supply, we sell a lifestyle and the way we do that is by sharing our story. Our pop-ups have allowed us to draw attention the brand and the great places we are sold in,” said Jason Wong, Marketing Lead at Herschel Supply Company.

Attract New Customers

One of the greatest benefits of a pop-up shop versus investing in a long-term physical retail space is that you are free to be nomadic. This means, you can go to where your community is – and continuously pursue new users.  The benefit of being able to select a certain neighborhood, market, table, or entire shop is that you can match your merchandise to a specific customer segment and provide even more relevant inventory and experience.

Want to learn more about what you need to take your business on the road? Check out what’s going on at The Social Yoga. Anita Cheung, founder of Social Yoga, is one of our Vancouver entrepreneurs who has successfully created one of the very first 100% nomadic yoga studios.

The group hosts month-long courses that run once a week for four weeks, each session at a new unique and inspiring space. It’s an incredible example of how you can develop experiences that delight you community inside curated pop-up space. The Social Yoga is now in it’s third year and the community is growing stronger every day.

We continue to get excited by the increase in successful retail pop-up strategies, like wings+horns’ experience here. It’s amazing to see more and more brands leverage short-term commercial real-estate to make impactful business decisions.

To learn more about finding unique and affordable space for short-term use, check out the hundreds of lofts, storefronts, warehouses, galleries, and more available for rent today on thisopenspace.