Why UK SMEs should take the pop-up trend seriously

Raj Sond, general manager at First Data Merchant Solutions (FDMS), takes a look at the pop-up revolution sweeping across Britain and why entrepreneurs should take notice.

In the past five years alone the UK has seen a 110% increase in independent stores, according to a recent report published by EE and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The pop-up revolution is providing a welcome boost to the UK economy, contributing £2.3bn each year, with revenues in the sector growing by 12.3% last year.

pop up shop londonThe UK is currently home to more than 10,000 pop-ups, but it’s not just new start-ups that are joining the pop-up party. The CEBR report highlights that more established businesses are also jumping on the bandwagon, with the flexible nature of the business an appealing addition to a fixed store. An extra outlet for your popular brands or a short term rental to coincide with a celebration gives the small business owner the opportunity to connect with different audiences and gives them the chance to try out new offerings in new areas. This is a golden opportunity for a growing business, and as CEBR reveals, there’s no reason to miss out on the pop-up trend if you’ve already set up shop.

From food and drinks to clothes and crafts, this trend has truly captured the imagination of the UK’s consumers, providing a personal, interactive and spontaneous retail experience. It’s something fun and unique that is really resonating with the British public. Now the pop-up trend is developing, especially in London, where several ‘permanent pop up’ locations have appeared – such as Pump and Boxpark in Shoreditch. These locations achieve the atmosphere of a pop-up environment, without the technological barriers that arise with truly mobile, pop up stands.

However, if you are considering popping-up your business semi-permanently, here are some areas you should consider to make sure the opportunity delivers maximum value:

Don’t leave the transaction to the last minute

Pop up businesses are often located in areas where there may not be a handy cashpoint nearby, and consumers now expect to be able to pay by card anywhere, so don’t lose custom by only taking cash. Pop-up businesses need an electronic point of sale terminal (ePOS) and card machine, just like permanent stores.

Don’t forget to ‘cross-sell’

You may just have the one pop-up location, but if you do have multiple sites or a permanent store location you should think about how you can drive customer loyalty, whether it’s ‘buy four and get the fifth one free’, or luring customers back to your permanent location by offering cashback – pop-up businesses can still drive return business.

Realise the power of customer data

You should aim to run your pop-up store with the same efficiency and customer service as you would on the high street. Capture all the data you can, learn what works and what doesn’t, and tweak your strategy accordingly. This will allow you to run a smarter business, offering discounts at the right time, spotting opportunities for targeted promotions and marketing and supporting inventory tracking, to make sure you never run out of your best-sellers.

We recently ran a survey across 1,000 UK small business owners, which found that that one third of respondents set up their own business because they wanted something more ‘exciting’ than a normal day job. The pop-up revolution offers just that and creates a lasting excitement beyond setting up your first business. Join the 10,000 British pop-ups that currently exist and build your empire further.

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