Are Pop-Up Shops the Store of the future?

With the High street being in such a period of change, the need to attract shopper footfall is paramount. When we studied this 2 years ago, the idea of this temporary retail concept, sometimes called flash retailing, or temporary retail, was being adopted as a promotional strategy – getting brand awareness in new locations.

This strategy is now becoming more important as a store of the future.

What is a pop up shop?

Pop-up shops and pop-up retail are temporary retail spaces that sell merchandise of any kind. These can come in all shapes and sizes and can be inside a physical retail space or as a temporary stand. Whether it is to sell seasonal stock, expand or trial a brand in a new location or promote a new product, pop-up stores are there to grab attention. Typically located in a high foot-traffic area, such as shopping centres and high streets, pop-up shops usually only last from as little as a few days up to a few months. The retail space is usually priced much lower than a traditional long term lease on a store, and quite often paid up front. As long as the shop is creating a buzz, it’s a success.

Summer pop up shop

What are the benefits of a pop-up shop?

  • Low-cost trial – Whether you are an established brand or a new start up with only one product, a pop-up shop allows you to trial a physical retail presence without the commitment of a year’s lease. This is even more important in the current retail climate, where we are seeing well established brands struggling to keep stores in large towns open.
  • An offline presence – For those brands that may have started out online, a pop-up store gives you an opportunity to connect with customers allowing you to get to know your target audience, build relationships and create awareness with those who may not have discovered you yet.
  • Customer experience – Great customer experience is more important now than ever in physical retail in our post-COVID world.
  • Create awareness – Pop-up shops are exciting and word of mouth and the media are a great way to spread awareness of your brand for free. It allows the opportunity to experiment with new products and concepts in an informal and cost-effective way. You can also build support via social media campaigns.
  • Experimentation – You can experiment with finishes and materials, as these are a one-off, and not planned investment on multiple sites. It’s much easier to tweak the setup quickly and make changes until you find the most successful option.
  • Monitor success – Return on investment (ROI) analysis is quick and easy.
  • Immediately accessible – Pop-up shops allow you to offer deals to encourage impulse purchases.
pop up store in mall

The history of the pop-up store

Pop-up stores and temporary retail is nothing new and can be traced back as far as 1298 with Vienna’s December Market which sparked other European Christmas markets to follow suit. Seasonal retail has always given a great opportunity for temporary shops, whether this comes in the form of a farmer’s market, Christmas shops or very short-term Halloween costume stands.

Over the past couple of decades, Black Friday has allowed retailers the opportunity to create bold and creative temporary stores to grab attention and make the most of keen bargain hunters who are more susceptible to an impulse purchase. Target, a huge American discount retailer created a pop-up shop inside a 220-foot boat on the Hudson River in New York in 2002 to make the most of those Black Friday sales over only two weeks. Even restaurants have been getting in on pop-up the trend.

Pop-up shop inspiration

Examples of some great pop-up shops including Disney, Martini and Swoon. Impulse has been pleased to have worked on various schemes including the 2018 Swoon project, and have enjoyed the fast turnaround process enabling this brand to quickly get retail space on a temporary basis.

The furniture store
Nespresso bar

Another example we have seen in London, is the cleverly located Nespresso store, in London Bridge Station, attracting new client sign-ups over a free cup of coffee.

We’ve enjoyed looking at some of the more memorable and successful pop-up stores of the past 18 months with the 51 best pop-up stores, ranging from Amazon to Carlsberg, Depop, and many others and well as this list of the most talked about pop-up stores.

Whilst visiting LA back in 2018, we experienced the Pop-up launch of Kylie Jenner’s make-up range, which was a slick operation all revolving around a small temporary unit in the Westfield Shopping Mall – there were hour-long queues to enter, and evidence of great organisation, plus the general hype around one of the biggest brands today.

Where can I find a pop-up shop retail space?

There are many ways you can find retail space to create a temporary stand or store and this very popular trend has given grounds to create a whole new business specialising in just that. There are many to choose from but here are three of our favourites.

How to drive business to your pop-up store?

One of the main reasons for having a temporary pop-up shop is to seize the opportunity for a great location. Choosing a location on a main high-street or a key commuter route with high foot-traffic is a great way to grab the attention of passers-by and encourage them to pop in. Of course, the best way to entice customers is with a striking window display. Creating a bold visual to showcase your brand and a selection of products will give potential customers the expectation of what they can expect to find inside.

Social media is a great way to generate interest in your pop-up shop. By posting on local Facebook groups or advertising yourself on Twitter and Instagram with local hashtags, you can build a following and encourage those who already follow you to visit. Use any local connections you have to help spread the word.

How can Impulse POP help make your pop up store a success?

We believe that pop-up is a crucial exercise in rejuvenating the high street. Whilst different channels compete for consumers’ time and attention, retail has to evolve to attract new interest. This is pushing us more into being an “event” supplier, where the infrastructure is more temporary. Our CAD developers spend more time designing around a temporary architecture, which draws on our long established experience in retail design.

The key to successful physical retail now is creating a good customer experience. This has evolved further post-COVID and, as retail adapts, the pop-up store creates a really accessible route to market.

Impulse have been working successfully with brands on implementing retail programmes across one to many locations, with brands such as Swoon, Levis, Nespresso.

  • Impulse will work with the brand to survey, set-out, design and manufacture the interiors, building in the new covid regulations, and provide a structured process to the project.  
  • Layouts will be visualised in 3D for approval, and produced in our own  UK factory 
  • Choices of displays, free-standing (FSDU) to wall mounted, or counter units, in a variety of materials, to suit style and tone of the brand.

All this aside – it’s not a new idea, but it is a working model for an ailing High Street. Supplier partnerships are crucial. Brands need to connect with specialists in development and installation, and there needs to be a strong conduit between the Brand and the execution. At Impulse, we are experienced in converting the brief into a working solution, and if required will offer the service Design – Develop – Installation.

Contact Mark McKeown on 01767 682756 for an initial discussion around your requirements – we’re happy to arrange a socially distanced meeting on site if required.


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