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The power of the pop-up shop

Want to boost brand awareness, increase sales and get crucial, real-time customer feedback? Pop-up shops provide a fantastic opportunity to do just that.

pop-up john lewis

Pop-ups - a shop or store that temporarily “pops-up” for a limited period of time to achieve a particular goal – are becoming increasingly popular. 

Allowing brands and retailers to reach new audiences without having to commit to a long-term lease, they can present valuable opportunities for testing new products and propositions, raising awareness and building brand loyalty. 

While over 80 per cent of UK consumers are now “digital shoppers”, over 70 per cent of all UK 2023 retail sales were still conducted in brick-and-mortar stores, proving that while ecommerce may be on the rise, having a physical presence can be incredibly powerful for driving business growth. 

Many benefits

There is a reason why the popularity of pop-ups continues to grow. They offer a wide range of compelling benefits to brands, retailers, consumers – and landlords – alike. 

Typically appearing in high footfall locations, pop-ups provide a new, fun and engaging way of getting your products in front of potential customers. 

As mentioned earlier, the majority of UK retail purchases are still made in store so pop-ups can be a highly effective way of boosting sales or clearing stock. The fact that the only appear for a limited period of time adds a sense of urgency for consumers which can be especially helpful if you are trying to clear stock.

Their temporary nature also means that pop-ups provide a perfect contact point for testing new propositions and ideas. 


They can be used gather insights for better understanding your target audience, how they perceive you and how their interact with your brand and products. This is valuable information that can help you iterate and plan future products or activities. 

This can be particularly helpful if you are launching something new. Not only do they provide you with the flexibility to try something different without having to invest heavily or make long term commitments, pop-ups usually offer consumers an interesting and unique experience. This, combined with the face-to-face interaction they allow can go along way towards building your brand image and customer loyalty.

Location, location, location

Picking the right location is hugely important as it can be one of the key factors that determine success. Finding an area with a high footfall should obviously be a priority but you also want to make sure your chosen location aligns with your purpose. 

Luxury brands for example may choose to take over a section of a high-end resort or department store to reinforce perceptions of quality. Alternatively, if they wish to sell old stock at a discount, they may set up an outlet-style pop-up away from their permanent stores to create a sense of distance between their core brand and discounted goods. 

For anyone considering establishing a pop-up store, it is advisable first looking at your audience demographics in order to find the best possible fit.

Setting up shop

In terms of costs, these will vary depending on what you are hoping to achieve, your desired location, the type of space you will be occupying and for how long. Overall however, the pop-up model is considerably cheaper than traditional stores and the reduced investment means a much lower level of risk.

open sign

Landlords tend to be receptive to the idea of pop-ups as it allows them to fill vacant storefronts that would typically sit empty waiting for a long-term tenant. They can also create a buzz for the area that can attract new tenants in the future. 

Once you have identified your desired location, find out who owns it an approach them to see if you can reach a short-term agreement. This could include a percentage split, allocating a proportion of your revenue as rent or requesting that business rates and utilities are included for your fixed term. If you are unsure how best to proceed, it may be worth consulting a solicitor.

Delivering an experience

It is also recommended creating an event-like experience, something that transcends a typical shop and really engages consumers. Pop-ups, with strategic experience design, create a sense of urgency strong enough to make a passerby take notice, and even disrupt their routine to explore an offering or experience. 

To make your really pop-up stand out, you need to offer more than just products for sale. Try to create an interactive and immersive experience that allows customers to engage with your brand. This could include live demonstrations, workshops, tastings, or entertainment. 

Combine this with an eye-catching storefront or display, unique or limited edition products to add to the sense of urgency, and supporting promotional activity and you create a buzz in no time. 

When it comes to promoting your pop-up, try and generated excitement through targeted marketing campaigns. If you have already succeeded in in building a community of brand enthusiasts, be sure to let them now as they can help spread the word through their own networks. Social media, email newsletters, influencer partnerships and local advertising are all excellent ways of reaching your target audience to drive footfall in your store.

pop up competition

Host a pop-up with a renowned retailer

At GS1 UK, we are committed to finding new opportunities to help our members grow. That’s why we have teamed up with our community partner, The Great Brand Exchange, to offer our members the chance to win a pop-up opportunity with John Lewis at 1 of 5 locations across the UK.

Competition is now closed.


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