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Is popping up the best way to stand out? by Judy Andrews

With so much competition for attention in the Retail world these days, what does it take to truly stand out? How can brands capture customer imagination and encourage people to genuinely connect, to try, to buy?  Well, a little while ago, I went along to a unique customer experience - the Anya Hindmarch concept store, ‘Labelled’. It took over Anya’s Sloane Street store in London for three days, and it really got me thinking about ‘pop-up’s’ and how they’re able to transform the way we shop and interact. 

Traditionally, pop-ups were for brands without a physical retail presence – the online world popping up in a space for a short burst to bring their brand to life, and of course that’s still the case. However, brands of all shapes and sizes are now unleashing the power of the pop-up too... creating a sense of limited-time urgency and magic for shoppers that’s both exciting and exclusive. 

Anya Hindmarch is a real design hero of mine and this concept store was to launch her new range of travel/organisation bags and pouches. As soon as I stepped inside, I couldn’t help but smile.  Everything was labelled, and I mean everything... the back of the plinths holding the beautiful bags, the notebook I was given when I arrived, my pen, my chair and even the KitKats! 

Everything was ‘labelled’ at the Anya Hindmarch concept store

Everything was ‘labelled’ at the Anya Hindmarch concept store

 It was playful, unexpected and I loved it... yes, because it’s a cool idea that ties back brilliantly to the product and theme of the pop-up, but also because it made the experience personal. Having my own name label, as simple as that might sound, made me feel special and as a potential customer that’s worth its weight in gold.   

The visual appeal of the experience fired my imagination too - the retro feel with pale grey flooring and filing cabinets galore, made the vibrancy of the bags really zing!  And this was definitely a special event, with talks from an array of guest speakers about getting more organised. I loved hearing the advice that if you can do a task in under two minutes, just get it done... don’t put it on a list! 

Six women admired by the brand were also asked to share how they organise their Labelled Collection pieces, which was definitely food for thought.

Plinth displays, showing the ways in which women admired by the brand use the Labelled Collection. Photo credit: Anya Hindmarch

Plinth displays, showing the ways in which women admired by the brand use the Labelled Collection. Photo credit: Anya Hindmarch

 For a brand like Anya Hindmarch, this type of takeover is an opportunity to create something exciting and surprising, to showcase limited editions and exclusive pieces as well as the complete collection, and to inspire existing and new customers - and of course it worked for me. I just had to have some of that sweet organisation in my life, so I came away with a personalised pouch. Now when I travel, my jewellery will always be in its right and proper place! 

Another pop-up that stands out for me, both as a customer and a lover of great design, was created in the seaside town of Worthing earlier this year by the awesome printmakers and designers at Hello Dodo.  I love their colourful, bold approach and the fun messaging behind it - and although Hello Dodo is an online shop, they’ve brought it to life a couple of times creating ‘Hello Dodo Land’ in Colonnade House. 

Ali, Jam and Hero the pug, in their Worthing pop up shop Hello Dodo Land. Photo credit: Hello Dodo

Ali, Jam and Hero the pug, in their Worthing pop up shop Hello Dodo Land. Photo credit: Hello Dodo

This pop up has achieved huge stand out locally, as well as on social channels, and as Hello Dodo founders, Ali and Jam, told me:

“Organising pop-up shops has definitely been our proudest achievement to date. Selling online is great but you don’t get to see people actually interacting with your work. A market stall is good for this too, but a person stood in front of you at a table doesn’t act the same way as someone walking in to a shop space and seeing your work. Also, as we have a lot of designs and products, it’s only in a pop-up environment that we get to see it all displayed in one place.”

Colourful, bold and all in one place for a limited time. Photo credit: Hello Dodo

Colourful, bold and all in one place for a limited time. Photo credit: Hello Dodo

“We’ve often been asked, especially by local people, if we’d consider opening a real shop but for us, the fun and excitement is all about ‘popping up’ for that brief amount of time - playing shop and then disappearing back to the online world!” 

Solo pop up’s are definitely impactful, but what about a pop up that combines an array of talent from multiple makers? Can you still achieve stand out when your pop up is a collective? We say definitely... and Etsy’s Winter Markets are proof of it!

As well as being a great way to make the most of the seasonal shopping spikes, popping up as a collective can help your business reach a whole new audience, especially when it’s under the Etsy umbrella. As Whan Tothill, Founder of The Happy Felt Club and Host of the Somerset ‘Etsy Made Local’ pop up, told me: 

“Pop up events like ‘Etsy Made Local’ are fantastic for small independent sellers because it offers us a great opportunity to showcase our products without the commitment of long term rents, staff and so on. Startup sellers can test their new products and get feedback directly from customers and it’s even better when you do it as a group, because it means you get greater marketing support and social media exposure from every sellers’ channels. For Etsy Made Local, we were lucky to be part of a national event organized by different Etsy teams around the UK, which gave us national marketing exposure as well.  I’ve met and worked alongside so many lovely and talented people byorganising the pop up, who I wouldn’t have met otherwise - and we had almost 1,400 shoppers through the door during the 6 hours we were open. We received lovely feedback from shoppers about the diversity and the quality of our products too, and that spurs you on with your own business”. 

Etsy Winter Market. Photo courtesy of Whan Tothill

Etsy Winter Market. Photo courtesy of Whan Tothill

All in all, is popping up the best way to stand out? Well, at Tickety Boo we say it’s a great way! It gives brands, big or boutique, the chance to create retail theatre, reach new audiences, make a personal connection, present or reinvent themselves, or to simply have fun and celebrate!

 Whether you’re a well-established brand like Anya Hindmarch, celebrating organisation her way, or a brand like Hello Dodo bringing the land of imagination to real life, or a group of talented makers coming together to celebrate seasonal local shopping, the pop up gives you the chance to throw your arms wide and tempt your customers in with something new and inspirational. When it’s done in the right way, it definitely brings excitement to the high street... or the back streets... or wherever you choose to pop up! ;) 

 

Judy Andrews