Pop-Up Shops: What Are They And Do They Work?

Photo by Andy Wang on Unsplash
2 years ago

Retail is a competitive business. It’s a constant battle – not just for those all-important sales, but to turn new leads into repeat customers. Of course, there is one way to drive loyalty and customer retention and that’s by creating a top notch shopping experience. But how can you create that experience if you’re new to the scene or offer an online storefront? The answer is simple, yet effective – by opening a pop-up shop that showcases the best of your brand.  

Are pop-up retail outlets effective?  

The effect of both the 2008 financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic in particular created a real headache for retailers. At the same time, however, there are opportunities. No longer do you have to sign up to a sky high, long-term shop lease. And the levels of vacant high street stores across the UK means more landlords are receptive to the idea of short-term lets. 

More importantly, however, pop-up shops can be hugely effective at increasing your brand’s exposure in a short, sharp burst. Opening one can create a real buzz and a sense of urgency, with customers knowing you won’t be around for long. Does it work? Well, research from EE found that a third of new UK start-ups begin life as a pop-up shop. So, surely that’s a “yes”? 

Thinking about opening a pop-up shop?  

For start-ups and smaller (online) retailers, launching a pop-up shop can be the next step to elevate brand exposure and customer experience. After all, think about all that footfall as an army of potential purchasers pass your pop-up store on the way to work or while they enjoy some downtime. If they aren’t coming to you (yet), then why not take it to them? 

A pop-up store also has other benefits. First, it can give you the sense of what it’d be like to run a physical store – if you don’t already. Second, there’s a unique freedom afforded to you. Try new ideas, explore different marketing angles, or even give out some free samples. How much opportunity do you have for this type of dynamic activity when it’s business as usual? 

How to set up your own pop-up shop 

The first thing to get sorted when opening up a pop-up shop is your location. And remember – you don’t have to be constrained by existing buildings. It’s just as easy to set up a temporary outlet in a temporary building that can be placed – well – wherever. After all, your location is going to have a large impact on the overall success of your pop-up project. 

Once that’s decided, the next steps are to finalise some essential bits and pieces. You’ll need some short-term staffing cover to man the store. There are bills to pay and stock to supply – so ensuring your finances are in order is another must. And don’t forget to check whether it’s necessary to get a specific business licence. Don’t let the odyssey to end before it starts! 

Pop-up shops generate great success stories for brands who are prepared to put themselves out there and innovate. In fact, it’s not just start-ups and smaller retailers who see the value. Even big name brands such as Coca-Cola have explored direct-to-consumer opportunities by popping up. And that vote of confidence should underline what a pop-up could do for you.  

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