3 ways your start-up could benefit from a pop-up shop

Following the success of Startups and Sage One's pop-up at Old Street, here's how a pop-up shop could help create a buzz around your business

Pop-up shops are a brilliant way for fledgling businesses to test the market, which is exactly why Startups.co.uk and Sage One launched our pop-up shop at Old Street station last week – to help give exciting UK start-ups access to an unrivalled retail opportunity.

Following thousands of votes, budding retail start-ups Lavolio; a specialist in luxury confectionary, and miPic; a social platform for mobile artists, were chosen to take the retail space in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, with the pop-up open for business since Monday 8 February until Sunday 14 February. Both businesses received marketing spend and promotion and had the chance to get their brand in front of half a million people for free.

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We spoke with Lavolio and miPic to find out how running a pop-up shop has helped their business and the three keys ways a pop-up shop could benefit your start-up…

1. Brand exposure

More and more brands are opening pop-ups to boost awareness about their business; in fact research shows that almost a third of UK businesses are now starting life as a pop-up shop with the pop-up  industry estimated to be worth around £2.3bn.

Pop-up shops are an incredible, low-cost marketing tool as they enable you to not only use the space for retail purposes but to also create an experience rather than simply just pushing a product or service. Not only that, but a pop-up shop – particularly one in a location with high footfall – puts your brand in the public domain. So, regardless of whether the consumer buys from your pop-up shop, they’re more likely to remember your brand at a later date.


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As miPic explains:

“They [the consumer] might not buy something straight away from us or even this week but what this pop-up shop does is put our brand in their subconscious. So at a later date, they might be browsing the web for gift ideas or looking for some cool art and they’ll remember us. That’s where it helps.”

2. Business validation

Depending on how early-stage your start-up is, you might have not yet met directly with prospective customers to know what they think about your business. A pop-up shop enables you to test the market and find out what your customers really think and what the level of demand is for your product or service; giving you further confidence and market understanding. It’s a pretty effective and low-resource way of conducting market research!

Opening a pop-up shop also enables you to create a real-world relationship with your customers. If you’re an online business for example, you might only connect with your customers online and via social media. A pop-up shop enables you to take this connection offline to meet with customers face-to-face and build a more meaningful connection.

miPic founder Carl Thomas said that the “public feedback [from the pop-up shop] this week has been flattering” while Lavolio’s founder Lavinia Davolio commented:

“The pop-up shop is a great opportunity to introduce the Lavolio brand and concept to a bigger audience.We loved the opportunity to personalise the space of the store so that it looks and feels like our brand and it is lovely to see so many people that are drawn in by our designs and our patterns, not to mention tastings!

“The pop-up shop has been a great way to test out new products first-hand and to gain customers’ feedback.”

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3. Sales and PR

Arguably the most obvious way a pop-up shop can help your start-up is that it gives you another route to sell your offering and make money. The fact that pop-up shops typically cost 80% less than buying or leasing a long-term traditional retail space makes it a win-win.

What’s more, pop-up shops – especially if they offer a quirky approach or are based at a popular location – can drum up considerable public relations interest and provide a great story for the press to run with.

Matt Forrest, global VP of product marketing at Sage One, commented: “Pop-up shops give businesses a way of trying something new, without tying up cashflow.

“Our pop-up shop at Old Street station is giving emerging retail start-ups miPic and Lavolio an unmatched opportunity to generate interest around their business and get noticed.

“At Sage One, we’ve made it our mission to help and support the UK’s start-ups and small businesses and the #startupspopup reflects this aim. Just as pop-up shops are an effective way of marketing your business, Sage One Accounting is an effective tool to manage your start-up business.”

Find out more about our Old Street pop-up shop here, and follow news and updates via the Twitter hashtag #startupspopup


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