Continued growth in ecommerce coupled with changes in the traditional retail environment has meant the last few years have seen a significant development in the pop up shop industry. With projections for next year indicating that pop-ups will grow nearly 2.5 times faster than the UK’s traditional retail industry there are no signs of a slow down.
- There are currently over 10,000 pop-ups in the UK of which last year saw combined sales of goods worth £2.1 Billion
- In Britain 11.6 million people plan to start their own business within the next two years of which almost a third will begin life as a pop-up.
The very nature of pop up shops means that as well as being loved by the big brands its format lends itself really well to small online businesses and start-ups. We take a look at the benefits a pop up store can bring your ecommerce business and provide some helpful tips for getting your pop up off to a flying start.
What is a pop up shop?
Essentially a pop up shop is a temporary retail store selling merchandise in a particular space or venue for a limited period of time – typically from 1 day to a few of months. The aim is to attract customers through creating a burst of impact and providing a unique and interesting experience of your brand. Pop-up shops are incredibly flexible encompassing a wide variety of quirky spaces to suit all budgets – no matter how small. Examples of utilising space could include;
- Shop shares
- Vacant retail space
- Shopping centres
- Village halls
- High street stalls
- Farmers markets
- Art Galleries
- Window displays
- Even pubs are getting in on the act!
If you are looking to rent some shop space or similar then there are a number of online services available that you can organise this through. Checkout:
- We Are Pop Up
- Appear Here
- 3 Space (free space for local start-up businesses in the early stages of setting up)
Benefits for ecommerce owners
A pop up store is a low risk, cost-effective way to complement your online presence with some exciting offline activity, bringing your small online business a number of benefits. Including;
Flexibility. Pop-up shops can be adapted to suit your budget. Their temporary nature means you have no long-term commitment and no big overheads. You can simply choose the kind of pop up space your budget allows for the amount of time you need it. This could be anything from renting a vacant retail space for a couple of months to a table at a farmers market for a day.
Drive traffic. Exposure to a new audience can generate leads that you can capture and drive online to your business website.
Customer engagement. If your business is primarily online then a pop-up shop is an excellent way to physically get yourself in front of potential customers. It gives you the opportunity to engage in face-to-face conversation with your target market and gain valuable insight and feedback about your business.
Brand awareness. Pop-up stores can help get your brand in front of new customers, building awareness of your brand. Being creative can help generate interest and create a buzz around what you are doing – opening you up to some potential PR opportunities.
New products. Pop-up shops enable to you to test new product ideas out on your potential audience and obtain real-time feedback. If you’re launching a new product then a pop-up store is also a great way to create some added excitement – complementing online marketing promotions.
Test offline retail. If you are thinking about expanding your business offline into bricks and mortar then pop-ups are a sensible first step and a good way to experiment with the offline environment – before taking the plunge permanently.
5 essential tips for getting started
Spending time planning your presence is absolutely essential if you want your pop up shop to be a success. Think about the practical considerations you will need to undertake to ensure a positive experience:
- Have clear goals and objectives in place.
- What type of space is available in your budget?
- How long are you planning to run your pop up store – a few days, a few weeks or a few months?
- Will you need to hire in additional staff to man your pop up shop?
- What stock will you need?
- Do you need there to be a good WiFi connection?
- What time of year are you planning your pop up – will the weather have an impact?
- How are you going to take payments?
- How do you plan to data capture contact details such as email addresses?
Choosing the right location is of paramount importance so make sure you do your research first. Primarily think about where you are likely to find your target market. Choose somewhere with a high footfall, with good public transport links and a location that is easy to find. Do you need somewhere with good WiFi connection (essential if you want to get visitors to check out your online store or promote real-time posts on social media)?
3. Make an Impact.
The more interesting and unique you can make your pop-up shop the more likely you are to attract an audience. It’s a great chance for you to get creative so spend time thinking about the visual impact you want your pop up shop to have. How will you display your merchandise? What signage will you use? Are you running any promotions or special events? For some great visual inspiration, check out Pinterest – there are plenty of boards dedicated to Pop-Up store displays.
4. Spread the word.
Give people plenty of advance warning about your pop up shop and stress it’s for a limited time period – people don’t like to feel that they might are missing out on something! Promote your pop up shop on:
- Your website
- Your blog
- Social media platforms
- Local papers
- Local notice boards
- Local social media networks
- Press releases
5. Follow up
As an ecommerce business one of your key goals is likely to be driving potential customers to your online store. Therefore think about how you are going to capture prospect data such as email addresses so you are able to follow-up on possible leads. Competitions are a great way to get people to impart with their contact details. Ensure that you display your website address prominently and include it on all your flyers and packaging.
With a bit of thought and planning, pop up stores can be a great offline tactic for small business ecommerce and start-ups, so it’s worth giving it a try!
We’d love to hear your experiences using pop up stores so do please leave a comment.