The pop up shop is not a new concept. The idea has been around for a while, with Los Angeles retail marketing agency Vacant first developing the concept back in 1999, and UK businesses popping on to what many have deemed just a temporary fad with little protection to the consumer after the doors close.
What's changed, however, is that brands and retailers are beginning to realise the true power of the pop up – utilising the concept to increase consumer awareness and brand visibility by integrating physical retail with virtual environments to create a multichannel experience.
Etailers are increasingly looking at gaining a visible presence on the high street, and pop up stores offer the perfect opportunity to increase brand awareness and customer acquisition. Online fashion retailer Boden has opened a pop up store at Birmingham's Bullring to showcase its online offering and will remain open for four months.
Meanwhile, online grocer Ocado brought its integrated virtual wall to London, Bristol and Birmingham this summer, allowing consumers to purchase grocery essentials to be delivered directly to their home via the Ocado On the Go app.
Commenting on the launch of the virtual wall at Birmingham's Bullring, Jason Gissing, Ocado co-founder, said: “We can’t wait to see how much easier this will make the lives of both our existing fans and new customers alike, as they use our innovative service to take away the hassle of the weekly shop – no crowds, no long checkout queues, no heavy bags; this is the future of retail in the UK, and it’s here right now.”
These are the first forays into a physical presence on the high street for the online supermarket, and represent an integrated shopping experience, with customers able to scan images of essential grocery items to be delivered to their home.
Augmented reality is also being used in experiential retail concepts and displays. Net-a-Porter's much lauded New York 'Window Shops' to promote the new Karl Lagerfeld collection in January 2012 took the form of storefront images which could be scanned via smartphones using Aurasma technology, linking the physical storefront with the virtual experience and giving consumers the opportunity to view the collection online.
Indeed, mobile plays an increasingly important role in the consumer retail journey. With the launch of the iPhone 5 a few weeks away, research by eBay recently revealed the prediction that new technologies will almost double the time UK consumers spend shopping.
Rather than speeding up the process, improved smartphone functionality and other advancing digital technologies will result in consumers spending nearly twice as long browsing, researching and comparing item prices.
Net-A-Porter also held a pop up store in the form of a temporary New York boutique which allowed consumers to view and purchase from www.net-a-porter.com via specially installed iPad kiosks, and also purchase accessories on site.
In today's world inhabited by the digitally savvy consumer, pop up stores are no longer just about overpriced art and kitsch cupcakes. They provide the opportunity for brands to increase their prominence in a traditional retail setting, whilst harnessing digital technologies to encourage consumer engagement long after it has popped back down.