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GUEST BLOG: The importance of pop-ups to the overall retail experience

Temporary stores are now a permanent fixture in today’s retail landscape. With a growing diversity of brands using the format in different ways, Gareth James, Prosper’s Business Manager, looks at why pop-ups appeal to shoppers and retailers alike…

Pop-up shops may be transitory, but as a format they are here to stay. This agile style of retail is well suited to 21st century shopping and has evolved massively in the last decade, now coming in a wider variety of shapes, sizes, locations and budgets!

A growing variety of uses

The pop-up has long been a stepping stone for small start-ups to test the retail waters with their concept, raise brand awareness and hone the offering. It’s also a natural home for seasonal shopping – exemplified by Noel, a curated festive store that popped up in London’s Covent Garden earlier this month showcasing highly crafted artisan Christmas products.

However, established big brands and retailers are increasingly using them in interesting ways to keep customers engaged. Pop ups can help them launch a new campaign with a bigger bang, reach a new audience and offer limited-edition or customised products.

Whatever the purpose, the great power of a pop-up is how it gives shoppers a good reason to leave the comfort of buying online at home and get excited about retail in real life again.

A focus on experiences

Today’s shoppers – particularly Millennials – value memorable and shareable experiences that can’t be bought online and pop ups are the ultimate vehicle for delivering those.

For starters, that ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ concept creates both novelty and urgency, and ‘fear of missing out’ is a great motivator to attend. The spontaneity of pop-ups can drive impulse purchases, especially for customised and limited edition products, although selling more products in-store isn’t always the immediate goal.

Made to share

Pop ups are rich in social currency and share-ability. People want to say ‘I was there’ and share their experience using social media platforms. If there’s an element of surprise to create a talking point, all the better.

Being such branded space, pop-ups often resemble live mood boards, making them very photogenic and ideal for sharing on Instagram.

You can see this at play with the HermesMatic concept from French fashion house Hermès, which made its UK debut in Manchester last month. Offering professional dry cleaning services and exclusive dip-dye treatments for Hermès signature silk scarves, it gives a new twist to a classic label in a visually impactful way.

A move away from the hard sell

The rise of experience-led retail also reflects how shoppers don’t want to be sold to anymore, but engage with brands on their own terms. Experiences allow brands to connect more deeply and emotively with consumers, to create positive memories that develop a lasting loyalty.

For car brands, pop-ups allow them to reframe their selling proposition away from the hard sell of a forecourt. Volvo recently popped up in Reading’s Oracle mall for an exclusive preview of its new models, as part of a wider Scandinavian experience with an in-store café serving Swedish fika.

Speaking of Sweden, Ikea’s Dining Club is another good example of a great pop-up experience – Ikea kitchens and utensils facilitate the activities yet they stay in the background, as delivering a memorable evening is the primary focus.

A flexible future for retailing?

The upshot of all this pop-up activity is that it’s bringing some hope and new life to the high street. In response to demand, retail centre landlords are offering more short-term leases, to attract new names that refresh their line up.

Larger stores are also subletting areas to compatible brand partners for the same reason. Fashion accessory brand SkinnyDip London is taking advantage of this, appearing as a pop-up in Topshop stores, as well as at intu Watford and Lakeside.

It helps to give shoppers something new to explore and drive footfall. So it’s ironic that some of the online brands that contributed to lowering footfall are also now queuing up as prospective new tenants of physical stores, albeit temporary ones.

They want to connect with customers offline by expressing their brand in a physical space – as seen with Birchbox, the online beauty subscription service that is popping-up on London’s Carnaby Street until January. So there’s still value in ‘bricks and mortar’ stores…

Watch this space

The future for pop-ups? Well they are certainly not going away and new potential will surely come from finding opportunities in more unusual spaces, like when pop-up facilitator Appear Here partnered with Transport for London (TfL) at Old Street Station.

The project reimagined TfL’s approach to retail and also prompted use of forgotten spaces… with one kiosk in an old cleaner’s cupboard! Expect more hidden and unexpected locations to be untapped.

So pop-ups are likely to get more weird and wonderful. But that’s ok… it makes for a great experience!

If you would like to find out how we help retailers create great experiences with Pop-Ups, please get in touch hello@madebyprosper.com or visit http://www.madebyprosper.com/pop-ups

Industry Spotlight: 5 benefits to embracing the pop-up shop trend…

In a literal sense, pop-up shops are popping up everywhere, and whilst it has been independent businesses and smaller retailers that have pioneered the concept, larger retailers are beginning to embrace this latest trend.

The temporary stores are mostly found in high footfall areas such as city centres, shopping malls and busy streets. The main purpose of a pop-up is to create an impact and attract customers with something exciting, exclusive and different. So, what benefits can established retailers expect to achieve by implementing the pop-up shop concept?


  1. Experimentation: Road testing a new business concept can be costly. A pop up shop provides retailers with the ultimate flexibility in test marketing new products, promotions or concepts, before going fully to market. This allows the retailer to gauge future demand and incite customer feedback without incurring the high set up costs associated with a fixed store.
  1. Flexibility: Responding quickly to trends is not always easy for larger retailers. The flexibility of a pop up shop allows brands to adapt quickly and be in the right place at the right time. The temporary nature of a pop up shop allows the retailer to locate to where the action is, set up shop for key moments and more importantly, move on when interest wanes.
  1. Brand awareness: The act of launching a pop up shop creates buzz and hype that consumers love. The short-term nature of a pop up shop creates a sense of urgency, which often attracts big crowds. By appearing in an unexpected location, retailers can both surprise existing customers and excite new ones. Plus people are more likely to visit when there’s a limited time scale – and this often leads to an increase in sales.
  1. Educate new customers: By trying something new, retailers can widen their customer base by reaching consumers that may only be aware of their traditional product lines. When Microsoft launched their RT Surface tablet they opened a host of pop up stores in locations where they didn’t have a permanent presence. This enabled them to increase public awareness and educate customers on the product.
  1. Unload old stock: The majority of sales are still completed offline and a pop up shop in the right location can be the ideal venue to host a flash sale. The temporary nature of a pop up shop creates a buzz and excitement because people are interested in the sudden existence of a new store, especially if they look unique.

Flexibility in times of uncertainty

It would be remiss of me to write a blog about retailing without mentioning Brexit. It would be hard to argue that the current situation hasn’t created a certain amount of uncertainty. However, I am a firm believer in seeing opportunity in any situation and the pop up shop concept is a perfect answer to retailers looking to expand without incurring too many costs. It offers the opportunity to take on a retail space and set up quickly without the long-term commitment.

In Summary

The retail landscape is evolving and for retailers that want to keep pace with trends, pop up shops offer the ultimate in flexibility and testing innovation. However, to maximise on the benefits retailers need to be able to set up till solutions quickly offering consumers the same transaction options they expect in fixed retail units. By investing in an electronic point of sale solution with remote capability, retailers ensure they have the flexibility required to scale their business operations and the reporting functionality to assess the success of their new business venture.


Words by Marcus Ardeman, sales executive at Eurostop

Marcus has over 25 years’ experience working with Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) systems.  Before joining Eurostop, Marcus’s experience includes training, implementation and sales roles within large established EPOS companies. His retail background, and deep understanding of the retail environment has enabled him to take a consultative approach, ensuring that customers get the most from their new retail management and EPOS solutions.