Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Guest Post - Pop up shops – A nuisance? Or a solution to fixing the high street?

Charlie Burrows from Design4Retail has written this guest post about how pop-up shops can help both businesses and the high street.  Charlie's company designs pop-up stores for major brands.  Over to Charlie:

"With today`s High Street struggling to keep up with consumer demands being met elsewhere, it`s tough for business owners to keep their store fresh and exciting, with that special “pull” to draw customers in. The Internet is the main shopping attraction for most people now and if for nothing else, they will at least check prices online before visiting a store. Admittedly, some will still buy from a shop, preferring to handle the product first before making a choice and with items such as clothing, this is one area in which customers still remain loyal to physical shops. But with exchange policies becoming more simple with “e-tailers” such as Amazon and the speed, convenience and simplicity of ordering online, there just isn`t a big enough benefit to visiting a specific location, let alone pay for parking and the cost of fuel to get there.
So is there anything that can turn the fortunes of the high street around?

Pop up Shops could be the answer
Pop up shops are literally what they sound like. Small, easily set-up shops that may take form inside an empty shop building or even outside and they have been bemoaned at in the past by existing shop owners who don`t like the idea of not knowing from week to week who their main competition is. This is a fair point. But there is no denying that by companies utilising pop up shop strategies they can make a big impact at low cost and in a short amount of time, know whether what they are selling is going to be popular.

So what are the benefits of a pop up shop?
1. It`s a cheap testing method for new products or brands
2. Companies can get rid of old inventories and stock at reduced prices, utilising the opportunity to sell off unwanted stock items they are unable to sell in-store.
3. It`s a good test for strategizing on space. It`s difficult to know how much space a shop will need for a product stand for example. Pop up shops enable companies to see space requirements.
4. It`s a great way to test brand awareness and gauge reaction from the public on whether the brand is popular and noticed or perhaps ignored. The strength of a brand is difficult to predict until you get customer reaction.

Does the market need them?
Ultimately, the question is can we afford not to use them. The high street is still a popular form of retail and of course there are still millions of people who use it every year at Christmas and in the summer. There are peaks and troughs like with anything that relates to different demographics, however, the fact remains that shopping online is now even more convenient with online retailers investing in responsive mobile websites for those who like to browse online through their Smartphone or tablet devices. Nearly everything is at the touch of a button and people connect in an instant and this means people need not be inconvenienced by the possibility of rude staff, hectic crowds, expensive parking and traffic anymore. They can just shop online.

So, Yes. The high street needs pop up shops to help re-invigorate the retail experience and to pump some shop-life back into certain areas in the country. 1 in 6 premises stands empty across the UK and the latest figures show that around 20 shops close every day on the high street. Why shouldn`t companies use those empty buildings to promote new products? To entice customers in with something new and at the same time to gauge brand reaction and possibly gain valuable knowledge that will help them grow as a business, which will eventually funnel back into the industry?
They could revive town centres and help showcase new ideas, providing a fresh approach to retail in that area and this can only be a good thing, especially with the recent bleak outlook of our retail economy.

Business owners, large and small, shop owners and landlords should all be getting behind the idea of pop up shops. After all, if it drives footfall back onto the high street it can only be good news for the industry."

Link - Design4Retail
Charlie Burrows -

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