Retail Innovation, a pop-up shop story

Lithium-UK Photography

Lithium-UK Photography

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Each member of the MAIM Class of 2014 shares their individual experiences of innovation in the lead up to our Degree Show Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making. Here, Viktoria Naumenko writes in support of prototyping, illustrating how pop-up shops may allow major brands and new designers to test concepts in retail innovation.


Pop-ups are taking over the retail world and have already risen to success, filling empty retail strips on a temporary basis with the purpose of satisfying the ever-growing consumer appetite for new and exciting shopping experiences. My expertise and previous experience in start-ups led me to the opportunity to set up, manage and observe a three-month pop up project in ‘The Village’, the luxury fashion and lifestyle department of one of the largest urban shopping centers in Europe, Westfield London. Alongside another startup enthusiast, on the 4th of December we launched Amaka Seasonal Boutique, a pop up concept store representing fashion designers as well as artists that aimed to promote and support up-and-coming talent.


From my experience, I can say that pop-up stores main target is a customer who likes the variety and eclectic mix of what such store can offer. The seasonal boutique format allowed us to offer our customers the possibility to offer very different products. The pop-up shop culture allows you to get to know your customers more personally and build stronger relationships. As the owners of the idea and the brand, we also managed the shop on our own and communicated with our clients daily. It also allowed us to test different sales methodologies and understand which products have more potential than others. Many of our customers returned to follow up on the new products in store. The challenge for the team at that stage was to stay creative throughout the project and maintain constant sustainability, offering fresh designs and interesting displays. As the term of setting up a shop is usually one to three months, it is cheaper to launch a pop-up shop than a traditional retail store to test new markets.


From the beginning, the Amaka Seasonal Boutique experience was like ‘chaos theory’. We started with no investment or budget and within a three-month period we raised awareness of our start-up name. The experience illustrated that the pop-up strategy works as a testing platform to try something new, fun and different while at the same time getting noticed, establishing a name in the industry.


The traditional retail model is changing and the pop-up phenomenon has several distinct manifestations and divergent business goals: it can be set up and marketed with minimal capital outlay or infrastructure requirement, and it does not require long or expensive tie-in leases. If the business idea is to open a traditional store or a pop-up space, the concept behind it must be layered to become a truly creative innovation that aligns perfectly with the products and services on offer.


To learn more about pop-up shops, innovations in retail and Viktoria’s research please join us at the upcoming MA Innovation Management Degree Show Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making from 18-22 June.