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Zappos opens year-long pop-up

While more and more pureplay online retailers are opening pop-up stores, Zappos has taken the trend to a whole new level.

The Las Vegas-based shoe and clothing retailer plans to run a pop-up event every month in 2017 all across the US. It’s called the ‘Friends with Benefits’ tour and it kicks off on in Austin, Texas, from 27-29 January.

Internet Retailing spoke with Kristen Richmer, senior brand marketing manager at Zappos, about the year-long event.

Heather McIlvaine: What’s the aim of the ‘Friends with Benefits’ tour?

Kristen Richmer: We wanted to give back a little to the community who supported us and loved us for the last 17 years. Zappos is an e-commerce company, so it’s hard for our customers to experience our brand as a whole. The ‘Friends with Benefits’ roadshow represents our brand through four main pillars: retail, community, culture and charity.

On the retail side of things, we have a 40-foot shipping container where we’ll be selling some of our products. We’re placing Bluetooth beacons throughout the unit and giving customers an iPad when they walk in, so they can check out right on our website and their order will be on their doorstep the next day.

It’s a blend of e-commerce and bricks and mortar. I think people like to go online for the granular details, you can see what the upper is made of, what the laces are made of, but you go to bricks and mortars to touch and feel products.

We’re also supporting the community by having local bands, beer and food in a backyard space at the event. And we’ll be supporting pet adoption with the Austin Animal Center.

HM: Where is the tour headed after Austin?

KR: The tour will cover the US from coast to coast. We’re starting in the South – we’ll be in Atlanta in February – then heading to the East Coast, then crossing the Midwest to the West Coast. We have a general idea of the cities we want to go to, which are some of our most loyal markets. But if there’s an unexpected spot where consumers are asking us to come, we want to be able to react to that. We imagine we’ll be averaging about one pop-up per month, but it could be less and it could be more.

It’s also employee activated, so we’ll have a crew that travels to each of the different locations.

HM: Most pop-up stores are short-lived events. Why are you hosting a pop-up for the whole year?

KR: We wanted to make this a year-long campaign in order to reach the most number of cities possible. We’ve done pop-up shops in the past, but we felt they lacked our true culture and brand identity. We’re so much more than a retailer. We’re able to do that with the roadshow by incorporating other service elements that go back to the four main pillars.

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