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Strategising with pop-up shops

Pop-up shops are, in a nutshell, temporary retail spaces leased for a short, flexible hire term. The original concept for a pop-up shop was based on Japanese consumer culture and its devotion to rare and limited edition products.  The concept was soon snapped up world-wide by corporate brands and high-end designers, and has recently become a main stream strategy for new businesses looking to test and explore new ideas as well as for existing businesses to grow their sales and brand awareness.

The Irish property market downturn means that there are numerous vacant high street and shopping centre spaces available which are perfect for pop-ups and offer many advantages to brands and retailers looking to target key consumer locations. Pop-ups can also be used for cafés, product launches, sample sales, experimental and experiential marketing, meetings, training days, events and exhibitions so that the tenants would include community groups, local craft workers, artists and social enterprises.

To take advantage of the pop-up trend, some facility management companies now provide a pop-up shop package which includes the store fit out, an advertisement campaign before and during the trading term, a full clean of store when the term of lease expires and maintenance support for the duration of the lease.

Furthermore, there have been local initiatives, such as the Dún Laoghaire Pop-up Shop Initiative, promoting the pop-up concept in order to increase footfall and attract new visitors, to generate publicity and to showcase empty properties to potential tenants to help them be re-let.

Pop-Up Shops as a Strategy for your Business

The benefits of a pop-up shop are that it represents a low risk, low cost strategy to undertake any of the following:

  • Testing an Idea – whether you are a new business or an old one, a pop-up shop offers the ideal opportunity to test a new product, concept or service without committing to long-term cost exposure as part of a wider market research strategy. Will your idea work? Here is a way to find out!
  • Assessing a new Market/Location – should you consider expanding  your business to a new market/area, this is also a very efficient way to test the waters by dipping in your toe with a temporary set-up. For example you can verify your assumptions about the local footfall and identify the local demographic of the target area.
  • Eliminating excess stock – Liquidating excess stock can vastly improve your cash-flow,  so a pop-up show may be a low cost investment resulting in a high return.
  • Making the most of Seasonality – If your line of business is particularly affected depending on the particular time of the year, a pop-up is an ideal opportunity to maximise on your traditionally strongest sales periods. Halloween and Christmas shops are an example of seasonal pop-ups, but the same principle can be applied if your business is for example summer-orientated or if you want to take maximum advantage of the January Sales season.

Some Useful Tips

If you decide a pop-up shop is the right strategy for you, here are some issues to consider:

Rates and Utilities: When you are budgeting for your pop-up, do not forget to include the cost of the rates and utilities for which you will still be liable.

Regulations: Ensure that you have the appropriate public liability insurance in place, that you will not operate in contradiction to the existing planning permission or licensing applicable to the location and that a valid fire certificate is in place.

Consumer Affairs: Make sure that your ability to comply with consumer regulations is not affected. Put a valid returns policy in place and make your permanent business contact details known in case of any queries.

Integration and Record Keeping: If you are not able to operate your usual systems (e.g. EPOS, bar code scanners, credit card terminal), make sure you put in place suitable alternatives that will integrate easily with your existing transactions recording system. For example, a mobile phone app for processing credit card transactions might be a suitable substitute for a credit card terminal.

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One Response to Strategising with pop-up shops

  1. Payjack October 15, 2012 at 7:52 am #

    Topical article Helena.

    The Dun Laoghaire pop-up shop opposite the People’s Park is very popular and a great way for small businesses to get their products in front of paying customers.

    As you mentioned, a mobile app is a really good option for taking card payments and Payjack (a 100% Irish solution) is being used by a few pop-up shop traders.


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