The rise of the pop-up
The past couple of years have seen something pretty exciting emerge in the retail landscape. Small brands, without a brick-and-mortar shop, are now promoting their online experience offline.
Welcome to the age of the pop-up shop.
Riding the wave
A pop-up shop pretty much does what it says on the tin. It ‘pops up’ for a few days or weeks before disappearing again. Not only do they introduce a brand to a new audience, but because it’s temporary, they can prompt people to buy now to prevent that dreaded FOMO, or fear of missing out.
Also, pop-ups allow smaller businesses, without the means to invest in costly market research, to test new ideas and gain immediate feedback on existing products or services. Rosanna Wollenberg of Otiumberg, an online jewellery and accessories destination, uses pop-up events as a cost-effective way to meet directly with their customers. “Pop-ups are a way of creating a brand experience for existing and new customers which is impossible to recreate online. We love speaking directly to customers and gathering informal feedback, an aspect that we consider vital to the growth of our business.”
Pop-ups can also give smaller brands access to the sorts of locations they couldn’t otherwise afford. Like David Galbraith, whose artisan hip flask brand SWIG had a coveted spot at Popup Britain’s event in Piccadilly Circus last Christmas. “It’s not often a fledgling business gets to stand behind the counter in one of the busiest shopping districts in the world,” says David.
For many businesses, being able to get their products physically in front of customers is a real draw. Exclusive womenswear designer Collectionaires has already popped up seven times in London. “Pop-ups allow us to show our clothes to a lot of people in a short period of time. Moving around allows us to test out many different locations and to introduce ourselves to a whole new range of potential customers,” says Commercial Director Kevin House.
Getting the word out
Whilst pop-ups often benefit from passing trade (they’re frequently found on busy shopping streets), promotion is key. Many businesses will already have an online audience, but these people could be scattered far and wide, so whipping up excitement locally is crucial to a pop-up’s success.
As Sinead Koehler from Crafty Fox Market explains, “Pop-ups are usually promoted on a low budget, so social media and blogging are essential tools. Press releases, posters and flyers can also be effective, and a launch party is a great opportunity to invite the press and any other influential people.”
When Otiumberg held their recent launch at Detox Kitchen in Soho, they recognised the potential in the venue’s existing customer base, so they printed branded MOO Stickers and asked Detox Kitchen to hand them out in the lead up to the event to drive interest. It worked, and Otiumberg are now planning more pop-ups for the Christmas period.
It can also be worth having Business Cards to hand when you open your pop-up. Kevin House of Collectionaires showcases the season’s colour palette on his, whilst David Galbraith hands them out to reduce the pressure on the customer to make an instant decision. “It’s an open invitation to buy from SWIG in the future – now they’ve seen our flasks in the flesh they can purchase online at a time that suits them.”
Smaller quantities, quicker turnaround
As the lifespan of a pop-up is short, many businesses don’t require large quantities of business stationery and promotional materials.
Rosana Wollenberg of Otiumberg is a big fan of MOO’s small print runs. “As we grow, we expect our branding and design to change, so offering packs of 50 business cards give us a certain amount of flexibility and the chance to experiment with what works best.”
MOO’s Rush Printing service can also be a great help to small businesses, especially as many pop-ups happen at short notice. “It can be hard to gauge the print requirements of a pop-up ahead of time,” explains Sinead Koehler. “If business is booming, your promo materials can run low pretty quickly. But if trade is slow, you might want to try new techniques like printing off some last minute flyers to draw people into your store.”
Pop-ups can require a lot of hard work, but there’s no denying the potential rewards. Not just to the businesses involved, but to the retail landscape as a whole – pop-ups can be a breath of fresh air on a high street that may seem crowded with the same old shops. It might be early days, but with the pop-up economy already booming, it looks like these short-term shops are here to stay.
Would you consider a “pop up” shop to be one that does craft shows? Your article gave me an idea, while maybe not relevant to this article, about promoting my shop at shows by using the miniMoo cards with my website and contact info and attach a small jump ring with a few leftover beads attached as a give away at shows. Constructive feedback welcome. I’m in the U.S.
I love this article (& shared it with my connections). Although, as an Author & Speaker, my products are small in number I think I could still benefit from the POP-UP trend! I placed an order with MOO a while back and was VERY pleased. Now I see how to combine MOO services with a pop-up event featuring my products. Thanks MOO!
I like the idea of a “pop-up” shop. It’s cost-effective and provides customers with more options to choose from. I wonder if these shops can sustain customers for long when they are only able to sell within a short time period.
Great post. I’ve been to a bunch of big-brand pop-up shops in NYC, and have always felt that small brands (i.e. anyone with something to sell) could take advantage and provide a memorable shopping experience. I’m working with a tech startup in NYC called Miner that lets businesses create digital pop up stores anywhere. This post just makes me more excited about releasing the platform.
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