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Should Your Ecommerce Business Pop-Up in the Physical World?

In the legendary sci-fi film The Matrix, Morpheus tells Neo he’s been living in a dream world. That virtual existence parallels the internet, upon which many online sellers have built their businesses rather than take on the myriad challenges of the competitive brick-and-mortar marketplace.

But now there are sellers venturing out of “The Matrix” as they cautiously reach out to passersby in the real world through the concept of the “pop-up” store. It’s a concept Shopify discussed, perhaps a little surprisingly as the company’s business involves bringing in sellers to setup online stores.

It seems the ideal opportunities for doing a popup would be where an online seller could participate during a short-term event, and piggyback on that event’s publicity and draw. As to why, Shopify also noted that despite the money spent on ecommerce, it’s still a tiny fraction of overall retail.

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Such forays into the physical world would be ephemeral ones, a temporary rental of space with the intent of not merely selling goods, but reinforcing one’s brand. Big brands are giving these a try in various venues, like the recently completed Super Bowl.

For every Marc Jacobs out there, hundreds of lesser known, high quality ecommerce pros also exist. And they all may benefit from stepping out from behind the monitor for a short period of time.

Shopify’s guest blogger Melissa Gonzales of The Lionesque Group asked the same question of potential pop-up sellers that they probably have asked of themselves when they started their business: what do you want to accomplish with this? Whatever the answer may be, a pop-up store might help someone nicely achieve that goal.

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David A Utter

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR’s “All Things Considered” with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.


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