How to improve your customer service and retain relationships

shooping-trolleyCustomer service is at the core of any good business. It’s especially important in any customer-facing industries such as retail, hospitality and even e-commerce. If you’re offering a customer a product, then good service is of upmost importance.

 

Customer service should not just focus on solving problems with unhappy customers too – you should also focus on retaining loyal customers by offering an all-round good service.

 

Remain positive

Always remain positive no matter what. It may seem odd to be a beacon of positivity, but if you are negative in any way this can impact on your customer, especially if they are already annoyed at your service!

 

When dealing with annoyed customers, use positive language and try to steer them away from focusing on the bad. Never raise your voice and remain calm and collected.

 

As a rule, you should always smile too, even when you’re on the phone – believe it or not, customers can hear you smiling!

 

It may sound like a lot of work, and a lot of fakery but it will retain your customers, and you can always blow off steam in the staff room with your fellow colleagues.

 

Remain visible

There’s nothing more annoying than going into a shop and not being able to easily pick out a member of staff when you need one. Consider a uniform, or if you’re not the type of company that wants to enforce a strict dress-code, use badges or lanyards to make your team members visible.

 

When customers enter the store greet them with a friendly “hello” and ask if you can help at all. However, don’t hover around them. If they don’t need your help, let them get on with it. An off-hand approach can be more positive than a hard-sale approach. Most customers will feel uncomfortable when pressured, and even if they make a purchase, may feel like they had a bad customer service experience, as you were hovering around when they were making the choice!

 

Remain humble

Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know the answer to a customer’s query, but don’t leave them hanging. Offer a solution: “I don’t know, but let me check with someone who does,” “I’m not sure about that, give me a moment to check our stock room,” etc. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you aren’t sure on something, but you will have a problem if you can’t offer a customer an alternative solution.

 

Finally, and most importantly, thank your customers for shopping with you at the end of their purchase and through other mediums such as email marketing or social media. Your customers will feel appreciated, and you will get more repeat business if you acknowledge their importance.

Pop up shops go global

_MG_2937Here at Popupspace, we’re not the only one to offer our unique business model of sourcing temporary property for pop up shops and events: it’s a global industry that is expanding all the time.

 

We take a look at some of the global pop up sourcing companies out there and see who they have helped pop up.

 

Popup Brands, Australia http://www.popupbrandshq.com/

Popup Brands offers a sourcing service for pop up shops Down Under. Visitors can add their spaces and attract tenants through their streamlined website. Launched in 2013, it has now established itself as the go-to place to find pop up shops in Australia.

 

Storefront, USA https://www.thestorefront.com/

Storefront specialises in finding temporary spaces in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. As well as traditional retail space, they offer spaces at markets, shopping malls, galleries, craft fairs and kiosks. Really, it’s the place to find a vacant spot in any of these major cities.

 

Along the way, they have worked in collaboration with companies such as Westfield, W Hotels, New York Metro, and Hotel Roger Smith.

 

Popup Square, Amsterdam http://www.popupsquare.nl/

Sourcing spaces in the capital of the Netherlands, Popup Square lets landlords lists properties and tenants browse through them for their perfect space. From shops to galleries, this pop up sourcing company has some of the funkiest places in the city on offer.

 

Popup Berlin http://www.popup-berlin.de/

Finding popup shops in Berlin, this website is the go-to place for finding out what the coolest pop ups in the city are this week, and also to source a space should you want to dip your toes into the world of pop ups!

 

From small Berlin retailers to big names such as Etsy, Popup Berlin has worked with companies of all sizes to get their project off the ground.

 

Don’t forget, we offer pop up sourcing in the UK, so if you’re looking to promote your business, drop us a line today!

How a pop up shop can enhance your existing business

pop-upIf you’ve got an existing online brand and you want to explore ways of promoting yourself further, a pop up shop can be an ideal way of marketing yourself.

 

A temporary venture, it’s a great way to attract shoppers of the high street without expensive advertising, online marketing or any other traditional promotion.

 

Make use of the scraps

Online fashion house Poppy England has taken advantage of a pop up shop to poppy-englandpromote their brand further. Already an established online shop, the designer has creations in small retailers and boutiques, however this new pop up shop is designed not just to get sales, but to get customers for life.

 

Mums can enjoy cake and tea, while children will love creating in workshops that will make use of the offcuts used in Poppy England’s designs.

 

So not only is this venture a clever way to attract new customers, it’s a great way to get rid of the material that would otherwise go to waste.

 

Encourage future sales

You don’t necessarily need to use a pop up shop as a place for people to buy your products in a traditional sense. Brands such as adidas have used virtual walls in the past to allow shops with a small floorspace to display all kinds of footwear they sell. Customers can then create their perfect shoe and then order it direct to their home, making the online experience offline.

 

If you don’t have the budget for a virtual wall, you could simply display the range of products you have on offer and allow users to order items from your existing online shop via iPads or other tablet devices in store.

 

Promote a new product

We’ve talked about experiential marketing before, and a temporary retail space often forms part of a product launch for many established brands. It allows customers who are familiar with your existing product line to experience your new product without having to commit to buying it.

 

These experiential stores are created with an aim to get more people talking about your brand, rather than putting their money where their mouth is. It may seem like a risk if you’re a smaller business, but it can really help you stand out from the crowd.

 

So you don’t need to simply have a business idea to experiment with a pop up shop. Many large and established companies use pop up shops in addition to their online stores and existing retail spaces to keep customers engaged.

How to hire your first employee

interviewIf you’re thinking of expanding your business, or need some extra help when setting up your own pop up, then hiring your first employee is probably the next thing to do on your list.

 

Make sure you have all of the paperwork in place

Get acquainted with employment law and draw up a simple contract. If you’re a small business with a small turnover, it may be wise to consider employing someone as a freelancer or contractor, especially if they are only doing a temporary or ad hoc job. It means that you have less paperwork to do, and aren’t responsible for arranging your employee’s tax and national insurance contributions.

 

Define the job role

Be specific about who you are looking for and what you expect them to do before advertising the job. Create a clear and well-formed job description: there’s nothing more unprofessional than a badly spelt, vague job description. You’ll get more applications if you are clear about the qualifications you expect the application to have, the experience they need, and the roles and responsibilities they have. You should also put a salary on the job advert – even if it’s a range it will make sure you get the right people applying for the role.

 

Do some background research

There’s no harm in looking at an applicant’s public social media profiles such as Twitter or LinkedIn to get a better feel for if they are right for the job and clued up in your industry. Additionally, you may want to arrange a phone or Skype call before meeting them face to face to get a feel for if you like each other.

 

See through the charade

Many people may stretch the truth on their CV or over exaggerate. See through this, and get your applicant to explain themselves over certain CV points you may see as a bit foggy. Make them feel relaxed too: some of the best interviews can be casual chats where you can really get to know your future employee’s personality. After all, they will be the first person working for you: you will want to get on with them like a house on fire!

A shop just for Christmas, not for life

christmas-marketThe C-word may fill some with dread, realising that Christmas is just a short while away, but it’s never too early to start planning for the festive period. Pop up shops tend to be snapped up pretty quickly in the lead up, so start planning now if you want to make an impression on the Christmas market.

 

The holiday season is the perfect time to experiment with a pop up shop too, as sales will be heightened, there are more shoppers on the high street, and you’re more likely to make an impression on passing customers. Almost like shooting fish in a barrel.

 

Pop up shops during Christmas can also be great for existing brands: a couple of years ago HMV launched pop up shops throughout the UK, where it usually would have no presence. This helped them capture a market that they would have otherwise lost to online sales.

 

Fortnum and Mason are also holding a pop up shop in Somerset House, adjacent to the ice rink. Helping get people in the Christmas spirit, it will be selling unique skating inspired products that you won’t be able to get anywhere else.

 

And an unexpected appearance on the Christmas pop-up scene is Amazon (as if it needs any more presence during the Christmas period!). It’s opening pop up shops in the USA promoting its hardware, so shoppers can play with Kindles and the like before committing to buying them.

 

So whether you’re an established brand or are looking to make a dent on the Christmas scene, you can achieve this with a pop up shop. Get in touch with us and ask us about the availability we have for Christmas this year, before it’s too late!

Three things you need to know about opening a pop up

popup-shopThinking of popping up in a temporary shop? Got a great idea for how to utilise that empty shop round the corner from you? Great! But there are a few things you’ll need to know before you get the ball rolling.

 

It’s hard work

As with any new business, it will be hard work getting everything to run smoothly and to be the best shop it can possibly be. You will need to plan as much as you can in advance before finding the space of your dreams. How long would you like to run it for? What would you like to sell or advertise? How can you get people through the door? Make sure you have these things in mind while planning your pop up.

 

Be prepared

Set up a website, social media profiles and start printing flyers and posters for your event. Advertise yourself as much as possible before the big day and ensure that people know where you’re going to be. Look into pop up insurance if your lease doesn’t include it, as you will need it to protect yourself and your customers.

 

Create an experience

You’re not going to be around for long, so don’t just be like any other shop and fade into the background. Use bright colours, memorable displays and make a lot of noise about your pop up to get people to come and visit. And if you’re looking to do something a little more interesting, use your pop up as part of an experiential marketing plan and get people talking about your pop up for years to come.

Should you ditch the website for social media?

Social media buttonsIn a recent article by The Guardian, they reported that recruitment agency andSoMe relies solely on their social media presence to get business after replacing their website with a holding image almost two years ago. But is it worth ditching the good old fashioned website in favour of Facebook and Twitter?

 

The answer really depends on your business model. If you run a restaurant, café or pub, then focusing your energy on social media can be really beneficial as it’s a great way of communicating directly with your customers, many of which may have feedback on the service they received.

 

It’s easier than ever to connect with businesses on Facebook too, as many users will use the platform to “check in” to places, even if you don’t create a specific page for your business. So there may already be an untapped resource waiting for you!

 

Websites still have a place

However, just because social media is a great way to bring in new customers and please the old, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a website. Having a site up gives you credibility: how many times have you tried to get in touch with a company only to find a Facebook page that hasn’t been updated for several months or years? It’s unprofessional to leave no online presence, and a website can be ideal if you don’t want to have to deal with updating your social media accounts daily.

 

Sure, it can be off-putting to get a website built as it can often be costly, especially if you’d like your customers to make purchases through your site. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid it: there are plenty of free website creators out there such as WordPress, Weebly, and Wix – which all have code-free options. These websites can work really well for starter sites, and will prevent you from losing customers.

 

This solution is especially good if you’re running a pop up business – if you don’t have the budget or time to build a huge statement website, then putting one up for free is the best solution. In addition to an active social media presence, you’ll get the best of both worlds. So don’t ditch the site just yet…! 

Experiential marketing: what’s it all about?

felixYou might have heard the term “experiential marketing” being used in relation to pop up shops, but what exactly does it mean? In its basic form, experiential marketing is a way for businesses to get consumers to experience their brand through advertising.

 

Instead of focusing on the hard sell, companies focus on the emotions and memories that consumers feel towards their products. Think the warm feeling you get when you watch a Werther’s Original advert, but on larger, sleeker scale.

 

As part of this, many marketers and companies use pop up shops for their temporary experiences, and it makes sense to do so. Often these experiences are to promote the new flavour of the month or a new product, before the company moves on to their next big marketing thing.

 

Usually large companies with big budgets can only afford to do something like experiential marketing, which seemingly is hard to measure its effectiveness. However smaller companies are increasingly using pop up spaces to create an experience for their customers, to keep their company name embedded in consumers’ minds.

 

Here’s a few examples of some of the best experiential marketing campaigns

 

There have been thousands of experiential marketing campaigns out there, but here are a few of our top picks.

 

adidas Basketball – Jump with Derrick Rose

To promote the launch of Derrick Rose’s signature shoes, adidas set a popup shop where lucky visitors had the chance to win a pair of the coveted shoes. However, they had to jump 10 feet into the air and grab the shoes off of a shelf to simulate what it’s like to jump up to the hoop in a basketball game.

 

IKEA – Big Sleepover

After 100,000 people joined a Facebook group called “I wanna sleepover at IKEA” the company responded by inviting 100 people to sleepover at their store in Essex. Complete with manicures, massages and even a bed time story, the aim of this piece of marketing was to stress how important it is to spend valuable time choosing the right mattress and bed for the ultimate night’s sleep.

 

Red Bull – Stratos

Perhaps the most effective piece of experiential marketing there has been, the Red Bull Stratos event still has people talking today, two years on. Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of the atmosphere back down to earth in an event that was so widely publicised that it was even broadcast live on TV. Red Bull sponsored the whole thing too, and not an energy drink or Jagerbomb was in sight: it was a way to put their name on the map as the sponsors of epic sports and life changing stunts. There’s not many other brands out there who can say that they took a man to the edge of the atmosphere and gave him wings.

Shopping centres are the new pop up hot spots

liverpool onePop up shops can literally pop up anywhere, from empty shops on the high street to spaces in train stations, and a new trend is to pop up in shopping centres.

 

A great way to get immediate traffic, shopping centres already have an established customer base so you can spend less time focused on getting customers through the door, and more time on other areas of your shopping experience.

 

Plenty of shopping centres often rent out vacant shops to pop up shops between leases, but few have devoted spaces to temporary retail shops. Liverpool One Centre is the exception to this: they have an exclusive pop up space on Manesty’s Lane that has been especially put to one side for temporary retailers. It’s especially appealing as 35% of visitors cite events and entertainment, including pop ups as a reason to return to Liverpool One.

 

Situated opposite Urban Outfitters and Waterstones and sandwiched between Dr. Martens and Fred Perry, it’s a great location if you want to pop up with a fashion shop, or even stand out with something off-the-wall.

 

It’s also played host to shops such as Harvey Nichols’ foodmarket, and a seasonal asparagus café, so its also a versatile space for food pop ups.

 

If you’re tempted to try Liverpool One’s pop up space, or if you’ve been thinking about a pop up in any other shopping centre in the UK, get in touch with us! We are well connected, and have no problem in tracking down the right space for you and your business.

How could Scottish independence affect the retail sector?

With only a few hours until the results of Scotland’s independence are revealed, how would a yes win affect the retail and business sector?

 

This complex argument is overshadowed by many “what-ifs” and “maybes” – as it is, nothing is certain; if voters wanted an independent Scotland there would be an 18 month negotiation period to iron out the logistics of parting from the union. However, there have been many vocal supporters and opponents of independence and how it would affect business.

 

For a start there is no guarantee that Scotland would still be able to use the pound as their currency, in fact the Bank of England has suggested it would not allow it, and the country would have to make its own currency.

 

There’s also no guarantee of entry into the European Union, something that many businesses rely on, so these two factors have formed the basis for the argument against independence.

 

A dent in the food industry

One of the biggest industries in Scotland is food manufacturing with big brands such as Tunnock’s and Irn Bru based in the country, with staples such as whisky and smoked salmon huge exports. The Scotch Whisky Association has been outspoken about its worries of independence, saying that while Scottish whisky is imported to 200 countries, the government plans to only maintain between 70 and 90 missions.

 

Large retailers have also issued concerns about the red tape that can often lie with working with other countries, saying that they may have to pass on the cost to consumers. Sir Ian Cheshire, chief executive of Kingfisher, James Timpson, chief executive of Timpson, and Marc Bolland, chief executive of Marks & Spencer co-signed a letter expressing their worries, saying: “We know that running a separate pricing system in Scotland will mean taking the difficult decision as to whether or not to pass on the increased costs through higher prices to Scottish consumers.

 

“And it won’t just affect us, it will also impact on our thousands of suppliers, many of which are small to medium-sized businesses.”

 

Things would carry on no matter what

However, supporters of the Yes campaign see this move as scaremongering, and in fact, many heads of retail chains seem indifferent to the vote. In a recent interview with Retail Week, Jonathan Hart, chief executive of Thorntons said: “Independence is likely to cause a little bit more administrative burden but I don’t expect any change in our business.”

 

Hobbycraft echoed this sentiment, saying that they doubted there would be any immediate impact on their seven stores in Scotland. Next has also said they will remain “absolutely committed” to Scotland and Sebastian James, chief executive of Dixons Carphone said that he could imagine business being operated “in a loosely federated way like we do with Ireland.”

 

Overall it seems that if Scotland were to leave the union, there would be some initial teething problems and some key points that need to be addressed, such as the issue of currency and the European Union.

 

For many large-scale businesses, trading with another country would be water off of a duck’s back, and there is no reason why many small businesses won’t benefit from independence either. On the other hand, a no vote means that the country stays together, benefitting from many of the international trade agreements and the positives of EU membership.

 

Whatever’s decided, it will be a ground-breaking day not just for business, but the UK as a whole.