Amazon Joins the Pop Ups Movement
In a move that’s attracted a great deal of attention, Amazon has announced an initiative to run “pop ups” across the UK. While the move will be welcome to Amazon’s buyers, it calls for a lot more in-depth attention from the High Street as well as brick and mortar retailers elsewhere in the UK.
How Retail Pop Ups Work
If Amazon’s newest venture succeeds, it could be something that helps to reinvigorate the UK High Street. Chances are, however, that slow moving traditional retailers could be left to contend with a new breed of savvy online retailers that now have a physical presence thanks to Amazon’s pop ups.
Retail pop ups have become a seemingly overnight phenomena. They have entered the limelight over the last few years thanks to the success of online-focused retailers.
A popup is a temporary kind of physical store that may only be in existence for a month or a few months, if that.
The Benefits and Risks of Pop Ups
There are many advantages to running a pop up store in an environment like currently prevails in the UK and other Western countries. High Street retailers have been clobbered by operating costs such as high rentals at a time when consumers are defecting to online shopping.
Shopify estimates that popups
can be run for as low as $1,500 short term or around €29,085 for a month-long pop up. These low operating costs are attractive to online stores that want to experiment with a physical street presence to better connect with shoppers.
Amazon’s pop ups initiative has been hailed as a positive thing for the High Street by media outlets ranging from Sky News
. The initiative mirrors Amazon’s pop ups venture in the US. In the US, Amazon was able to sell its own products through pop up stores hosted inside other brick and mortar retailers’ outlets, such as Kohl’s
100 Lucky Amazon Sellers
In the UK, Amazon is providing a platform for some of its successful online sellers to try out having a physical presence on the high street. The company’s pilot will house up to a hundred of these online sellers in a series of pop up stores that may each last for up to eight weeks total. There are about ten spaces or physical stores where these pop ups will be housed.
Concerted Push to Build a Future for the High Street
The UK government is also involved in plans to revitalize the High Street. According to the government’s website
, a £675 million Future High Streets Fund has been established for this purpose.
The Fund targets 50 areas across the country to be rebuilt or reoriented towards a future after High Street retail. Some of the buildings, for example, will be converted into residential homes and used for other viable economic uses.
Who Stands to Lose
While the initiative from Amazon could provide big benefits for Amazon’s upstart online sellers, the effects for large brick and mortar retailers is not necessarily rosy.
For one, Amazon’s actions to save the high streets are too little and too late.
Amazon’s 10 Shops a Drop in the Ocean of 50,000 Store Closures
As Chris Stokel-Walker notes so emphatically in a Wired post
, Amazon’s 10 pop up stores “won’t save the struggling high street.” It’s a long way to saving the high street when there are 50,000 high street store closures in a single year as happened in 2018. It will take a whole lot more than Amazon opening a few pop up stores to reverse what has happened on the high street.
No Life Boats for the Brick and Mortar Retailers
If there’s little help from Amazon’s scheme for traditional high street retailers, there’s little comfort from the government as well. In updates posted about the Future High Streets Fund
, on the government’s site, the focus is largely on transforming the fortunes of the areas, not retailers as such.
Whether brick and mortar retailers will be mothballed entirely or wiped out of the history books is left to the collective imagination. This should be a cause for concern for any high street retailer.
High Street Retailers Can Catch The Pop Up Wave
From testing a new retail concept to cutting overhead expenses, there are ways in which pop ups can be useful to high street retailers. The hard work is figuring out your financial situation and whether incorporating a pop up into your plans can help the business.
Perhaps the biggest appeal of the pop up store model for a struggling brick and mortar retailer is the potential for vastly reducing your overhead. If you have been struggling to turn a profit due to hefty rent payments and other overhead, you might want to consider how a pop up approach can help.
This will be hard for large retail brands to do right off the bat, closing down long-running shop outlets to bet the farm on a “pop up.” However, if you have had to close stores in the past anyway, and are looking for a way to revive a stalled retail brand, the pop up model could be just right.
Instead of spending big on renting a traditional store outlet, you can explore relaunching your brand in a smaller space as a pop up. The money you save on overhead can go towards other uses, such as buying media placements and connecting with shoppers.
Connecting with New Customers
As reported by Elite Business Magazine
, pop up stores not only help brands save money, compared to running traditional stores, but they can bring in new customers as well. An industry insider interviewed by the publication noted that pop ups are now seen as an attractive marketing platform.
This is an aspect of pop ups that was not valued early on in the history of the movement, when focus was on cost savings. Now, when consumers value experiences and authentic connection, pop ups’ ability to connect with local communities provide an edge.
Pop Ups Might be Here to Stay
Amazon’s initiative to reinvigorate the UK High Street has stirred the pot and garnered widespread media coverage. Supporters claim that this will do wonders for the High Street all across the UK, while critics point out the supposed deficiencies in Amazon’s plans.
Retailers can begin educating themselves now on what this important phenomena means and how they can get involved running pop ups for their own brands.