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The Pop-up Shop: Where to Start
Pop-up shops have grown from being a niche market into a mainstream success story. Also known as flash retailing, temporary retail and pop-up stores, they are causing retailers to re-think the traditional bricks-and-mortar shops.
A pop-up shop is a temporary retail space that sells merchandise of any type. First seen in the 1990s in large cities including London, Tokyo and Los Angeles, almost every consumer product on the market has been sold at a pop-up shop at some time: fashion, arts and crafts, food, cars, tech gadgets and just about everything else.
© DRG Photography / Shutterstock.com
It's exciting because they come in all shapes and sizes and satisfy a demand by creating a short-term store - they can open up to catch on to a trend or a timely event. Pop-up shops are now worth an estimated $50 billion and have become a global phenomenon, according to the American Marketing Association.
Brands can capitalise on the "here one minute and gone the next" ethos, transforming nondescript shopfronts into something interesting and attracting a swarm of customers and social media attention. The whole experience can come to life so suddenly it's almost as if someone waved a magic wand.
The shops introduce consumers to a brand and provide a platform for direct interaction. They can be used to gather consumer data, providing a unique opportunity for people to interact with your brand.
Retailers can use a pop-up shop to grow their sales, or to experiment with new ideas. They are a great way for new, small businesses to have a relatively cheap, commitment-free sales platform, retaining an exclusive feel for customers.
If you're thinking of launching a pop-up shop in the UK, there are a few factors to consider to boost your chances of success. The location, costs, design, products and prices should all be on your checklist of considerations.
Good footfall for pop-up shops is vital to their success. Having a high-exposure venue will attract high customer traffic, creating the perfect platform to boost sales. If you choose the wrong location - one that's off the beaten track - your store may not be there long enough to attract sufficient attention.
The costs of launching a pop-up can vary, depending on your location. In major cities such as London, Bristol and Leeds, the booming entrepreneurial spirit and larger number of small businesses means the costs will be higher. New brands may have to spend more, as they need to work harder to make their pop-up look amazing and create a real buzz.
The secret is drawing up a sustainable business plan - if you're unsure how to proceed, consult a small business advisor to help get you started. Surveys show the cost of running your pop-up in a prime city area averages £1,000 per week, but this can vary considerably, depending on the location.
In terms of design, pop-ups need flexible furniture with different uses, enabling you to move it around to react to consumer demands. Many successful premises have a central focal point to draw customers in, with various fixtures and fittings around it, on all sides, to display your wares. The quality of your shop fittings is important to improve the customer experience.
Remember, you're not there for very long, so having an instant impact is crucial. You don't have time to get it wrong. An example of successfully furnishing a pop-up shop on a grand scale was the Mercedes pop-up that sprang up in several UK centres. They included a Formula One car as a centre-piece, leading to it trending on Instagram almost immediately.
Whatever your business, focus on having the right shop fittings to maximise displays, drawing customers in and engaging them with the quality of your wares.
A pop-up shop creates an in-person connection with customers, so there's no better way to display your products. According to research by Retail Dive, most customers prefer to see and touch a product before they purchase it, so having a pop-up gives you the advantage over online retailers. For example, if you launch your shop to celebrate a new product, people can see it in person right away, rather than it being just a photo on a website.
While technology might make it more convenient to sell online, nothing can beat the face-to-face service a pop-up shop can provide, displaying your products in the best possible way and creating an immersive in-person retail experience.
Consumers can learn about your products on search engines and social media, or in print, so complementing this with a personal experience is an excellent way to build a community of loyal, engaged shoppers.
If you get your prices wrong, it can have serious consequences and you're going to struggle. Having a pop-up can enable you to test different products bundles, pricing and merchandising ideas. Setting the price too high can deter customers from buying - but setting it too low may mean you're not making the profits you need.
Selling face-to-face enables you to receive direct feedback from customers, so you'll soon know if they think your prices are off the mark. Once you see their initial reactions and discover whether they're willing to spend money on your products, you can modify your prices accordingly.
Run in the correct way, with plenty of advance planning, a pop-up shop can enhance your business, boost sales and get your brand known on the high street, without a massive outlay.