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Why the ‘game changing’ pop-up store trend is here to stay


Pop-ups are a growing trend to enhance retail and dining experiences, with such bars, street food stalls and stores ‘popping up’ all over the place. So why are so many retailers and restaurateurs shunning the traditional lease in favour of a high-impact, short-term appearance? Fundamentally it’s all about being able to create meaningful relationships with customers.

Ensuring you have the right product targeted to the right market at the right price is simply not enough to guarantee customer loyalty. Retailers and brands now understand that experience is everything, and pop-ups are intriguing concepts that provide the ideal environment to create new and memorable experiences that keep consumers interested.

For online retailers in particular, this concept has been a game-changer. While shopping online may be convenient and easy across certain categories, it has become clear that consumers don’t do so in isolation. Instead, they switch between a range of channels and expect to do so seamlessly when shopping. Connecting personally with a customer is therefore much more difficult online alone, regardless of how customer-friendly a website appears.

Opening a pop-up store can bridge this gap and offer the perfect solution for online retailers looking to create a physical personality to connect with their customers. While not a new concept, pop-up retail is growing at such a rate that Richard Lim, head of business information at the British Retail Consortium, recently proclaimed: “We’re only at the beginning of the pop-up revolution.”

The low cost and flexible lease terms are also perfect for start-ups wanting to test the water and create brand awareness. Some now very well-known brands launched this way, including Innocent Smoothies and Meat Liquor. But what’s in it for brands that already have a well-established physical presence?

Well, investing in a pop-up can provide them with an innovative way of showcasing limited or exclusive products, both of which have a great appeal for consumers, resulting in a positive sales impact. It also encourages spontaneity and impulse shopping, as people want to visit the pop-up before it disappears. For landlords like Hammerson, temporary leases provide the flexibility to keep the tenant mix exciting and dynamic, so that we can offer customers a new experience every time they visit.

Mercedes is a great example of this, having opened highly successful pop-ups in several of our centres across the UK, fitting out the shop as a showroom and even bringing in a Formula One car for customers. And, recently, Volvo launched a pop-up at the Oracle shopping centre to showcase its XC90 model, as well as offering prospective customers the chance to preview the brand’s new S90 and V90 models before they go on sale. The Scandinavian concept comes complete with a café offering traditional Swedish fika, to provide shoppers with a memorable experience that builds customer loyalty.

So, a pop-up is unlikely to be as transitory as the name suggests – and we see no signs of the trend slowing down.