What It Takes To Be A Pop-Up Product Manager

Pop-up product managers have to be quick on their feet
Pop-up product managers have to be quick on their feet
Image Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

As product managers we are always being told that we need to better understand our customers. We believe that if we were to truly understand them, then we would know how to offer them the products that they want, when they want them, and where they want them. In the world of retail products this is especially true. It turns out that there is a special type of product manager who just may have figured out a new product development definition that allows them to do all of these things at once. Who is this person you ask? Why it’s a pop-up product manager.

What Are Pop-Ups?

Product managers who are most closely associated with pop-ups are the ones who work for digitally native retailers. What this means is that they are a retailer who exists only in cyberspace – they have a website, not physical stores. These product managers get their customer knowledge from all of the data that their websites collect about their customers. They take the time to study this data and then based on what it is telling them, they then open up temporary real world stores (pop-ups) that may exist for only a month or two. In fact, these types of stores may only stay open for weeks or even days.

When trying to determine where to open their next pop-up store, product managers will use the zip codes and sales data that they have collected in order to determine which section of town is the most popular with their shoppers. In order to determine what they should offer to their customers in their pop-up, product managers will study the sales data of their top performing products. This can include styles, colors, and complete outfits. This information will be used by the product manager to know what products should be put on the shelves in the pop-up. Product managers at digitally native brands understand that data has to drive everything that they do.

Another term for digitally native firms is to call them “online first” brands. These are the product managers who want to find ways to broaden their base of customers and so they are using pop-ups. When they use pop-ups, they use the data that they have collected about their customers, things like location, age, and what they’ve bought in the past in order to focus their selling efforts and to set themselves up for strong sales with their pop-ups.

The Future Of Pop-Ups

Even as well-established firms are struggling with operating costs that just keep climbing and sales that continue to decline, digitally native brands and their associated pop-ups are experiencing growth. This is no small market. Digitally native brands were able to bring in US$27.1 billion in revenue this year compared to $22.6 last year. This now represents 4% of all online sales. Getting even part of that would look good on anyone’s product manager resume. The people who watch retail markets believe that pop-up shops are a real force to be reckoned with.

The value of pop-ups is that they allow brands to experiment with concepts quickly. They also allow brands to build closer connections with their customers by offering them personalized services. It is believed that pop-up are going to be an integral part of the future of retailing. The advantage that digitally native brands have is that they have a good understanding of their customer base and they have developed great connectivity with those customers.

Today’s real-world retail brands do collect information about their customers and they do study it. However, the digitally native brands have the ability to take special advantage of that kind of information. They can do this because they are not weighted down by having physical stores that they have to maintain. This allows them to use their collected data to determine the best place and time to set up a pop-up store – and then when to close it before it becomes unprofitable. The goal of these shops is to appeal to a narrow audience for a short period of time while at the same time introducing more customers to the brand.

What All Of This Means For You

The world of retail is undergoing some significant changes. The brands that occupy stores are experiencing increases in their cost of operations at the same time that it is getting harder and harder to get customers to come into their stores. There is a new type of product manager with a new product manager job description who is showing up at this time with a plan to solve these problems. Their solution? Pop-up stores.

These product managers work for firms that have websites, not physical stores. They study customer data to determine where to open their next pop-up store. They also study website sales data to determine what products to offer in their pop-up stores. The goal of using a pop-up is to broaden the customer base for the brand. Pop-ups have turned into a real force in the retail marketplace. Pop-ups allow brands to experiment with new ideas. Product managers can use pop-ups to create stores that target a very narrow group of customers and introduce more to their brand.

Pop-up product managers have to move fast. They are using the latest information about who their customers are and what they want in order to create stores that will appeal to these customers. When these stores no longer appeal to their customers, they can quickly take them down and move on. This type of retailing allows the firm to maximize its profits while minimizing its expenses. Pop-up product managers have a lot to teach the rest of us about how best to make use of our customer data in order to drive a healthy bottom line!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that a firm should operate multiple pop-ups at the same time or only one?

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