Just a few years ago, most people reading the words “pop-up store” may well have pictured a corner-shop specialising in the sale of Pop Tarts or something like a car boot sale, replete with rickety wallpaper pasting tables groaning with bric-a-brac and dog-eared paperbacks, wobbling precariously in a blustery, drizzle-swept field.
However, today, with new online stores and established brands alike turning to increasingly sophisticated pop-up stores as never before, it is little wonder that Richard Lim, head of business information at the British Retail Consortium, recently observed: “We’re only at the beginning of the pop-up revolution.”
Temporary, yes; makeshift, no
The fact is that while today’s pop-up shops may be temporary, there’s nothing makeshift, in the sense of rough and ready, about them. The overriding purpose is customer engagement, typically to promote a specific item or range of items. It is very difficult to do that if your pop-up store looks like the amateurishly cobbled together set of a school play. However, when your pop-up entices your prospective customers’ attention with eye-catching, professionally-produced display systems, from simple-but-snazzy pavement signs, chalkboards, and A-boards at one end of the scale, to stunning LCD digital displays and LED light boxes at the other, we are instantly into some heavy-duty merchandising.
In between, pop-up entrepreneurs can attract attention with stylish brochure stands, floor stands, menu stands, and cable displays. They all say to customers, “come in and explore what’s on offer.” These are just some of the cost-effective yet visually stunning graphic display systems we specialise in at assigns.co.uk.
Flexible and cost-effective
Pop-ups dispense with the problem of expensive overheads. Precisely because they’re smaller and deliberately more temporary than a permanent high street store, retailers have the flexibility to push specific products at specific times. This has immense appeal to start-up online retailers who want to provide their customers with “hands-on” experience with their products.
We should not forget that out of such inauspicious little acorns, a multitude of mighty oaks have grown: some now famous brands began by making their presence felt in strategically chosen locations and events via pop-up stores, including Meat Liquor and Innocent Smoothies.
Seizing the day
Knowing that they are encountering a temporary retail opportunity, people are often persuaded into spontaneous and impulse shopping because they want to seize the chance to purchase before the pop-up disappears.
Yet, it is by no means only start-up online retailers who are capitalising on pop-up stores. Big, established brands do so very successfully too, because they are a scintillatingly attention-grabbing way of highlighting exclusive or limited products. Mercedes, for example has taken to fitting out temporary-lease shops as showrooms to display selected models, even bringing in their growling Formula One panther for customers to look at close-up.
Last year, Volvo launched a highly successful pop-up at London’s Oracle shopping centre to showcase its gleaming new XC90 model and to allow customers to get up-close-and-personal with its latest S90 and V90 models before they went on sale, complete with a café offering traditional Swedish fika. Now that’s how to leave customers with a memorable experience and secure their loyalty.
We are increasingly living in the age of “frontierless retail” where previously distinct realms – the digital and the physical – are merging.
As vast swathes of customers turn to online shopping, cleverly designed pop-up stores with striking display systems fill a gap in all that virtual shopping activity by providing physical experiences and welcoming environments. Places that you can actually sit down in and enjoy a coffee and a snack while seeing what the products look like up close and personal.
Yes, pop-up stores are temporary. That’s their appeal, but they are also here to stay.