Macy's has developed a new pop-up concept, dubbed "The Market @ Macy's," set to launch next week in 10 cities, including the New York Herald Square flagship, and Boston, Detroit, Pittsburgh, PA, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, San Antonia, TX, Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, according to Macy's. The concept will eventually be in 49 out of the 50 major U.S. markets.
Macy's is pitching the concept as a "turnkey solution" to brands looking to break into brick and mortar retail, according to company materials. Unlike traditional concessions, Macy's staff will run the pop-ups. Brands pay a fixed fee but pocket all sales, and Macy's will evaluate sales and traffic, Macy's says. Duration is flexible, though a one-month minimum commitment is required.
The concept resembles New York City's Story — which has hosted Target and Jet in recent years in what the company calls a magazine-like sequence of retail experiences — as well as Chicago's Pop Box. Mall developers GGP (whose "In Real Life" store showcases online brands in Chicago's Water Tower Place) and Simon Property Group (whose "The Edit" does the same at the Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island), similarly aim to foster discovery.
Pop-ups are not new to retail or even to department stores. Nordstrom, as one example, has made the concept its own with its "Pop-in at Nordstrom" effort featuring beauty, apparel and tech.
Nor is Macy's a stranger to the store-within-a-store concept. Most recently, the retailer has used it as a way to bring its off-price Backstage unit into its full-line stores. Most of the materials on Macy's website includes details for prospective brands, but the pop-up will appeal to customers as well, according to Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s Inc. executive vice president of business development.
"We’re offering Macy’s shoppers the authentic, offering of a boutique while giving them the chance to discover new brands every month," he said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. "With the unique pop-up retail installations, we are also enabling creators of innovative products, services and experiences to boost their exposure and reach a broader customer base – with the support of Macy’s outstanding retail experience.”
Pop ups allow retailers to experiment with nearly any aspect of business — from merchandising and display to checkout. Pop-ups account for more than $50 billion a year in retail revenue and they will likely only grow in importance as retailers work to figure out how to bring technology and experiences into the shopper journey, according to Vicki Cantrell, retail transformation officer at omnichannel platform Aptos.
"For many retailers, pop-ups are quickly becoming a critical part of the store experience reinvention journey," Cantrell told Retail Dive in an email. "Experimenting with pop-ups enables companies like Macy's to go on a reinvention journey without making long-term commitments or investments, while also creating new touchpoints and fresh customer experiences."
But, while a pop-up's smaller scale makes it a prudent way to experiment, it still takes attention, preparation and investment — and it must be true to the host's ethos, Cantrell also said.