Managing a Pop-Up Store During a Pandemic

Pop-up stores have become a significant feature in our shopping culture over the past few years. Whether they are a high-profile function for an established company to market a new product or a small, independent business seizing a low-risk opportunity to sell their wares, they are now a recognisable and anticipated event for many shoppers.

Dior recently returned to Harrods in London following the success of their first pop-up event in 2019 and Pokemon, one of the world’s largest media franchises, found huge success in their UK events last year. Some even went viral, such as Waitrose’s vegan ‘chicken’ nugget giveaway, that fooled thousands of customers with an Ed Sheeran lookalike.

However, as cherished as these events are, the arrival of COVID-19 and the country’s following lockdown prevented many of them from taking place. Now, as we move forward and out of the lockdown, returning to our high street habits, what will become of the pop-up? As we begin to see shops open, they quickly appear to be returning too, only with slight caution. There’s so much more to think about within their operation, especially in comparison to what were relatively simple tasks, such as serving customers and opening a non-permanent space.

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring the continued safety of customer health is a priority. This means that, as we are seeing in retails and restaurants across the country, regular and thorough cleaning must be made a priority. There are now numerous reliable tools and equipment available to assist with this. PPE should be worn by staff wear necessary and, if a checkout area is necessary, unobtrusive protective barriers can be easily attached to existing counters with accessories such as standoffs.

Staggering and limiting the number of customers is recommended as it also allows for the ability to socially distance while browsing. If your planned event uses tickets, consider digital alternatives instead, as this limits the exchanges necessary for a customer to attend the pop-up.

Installing temporary and concise guidance about your store will also limit confusion and keep customers moving efficiently. Temporary signs can be displayed on low-cost fittings, such as cable displays, allowing them to be easily changed and cleaned without the compromise of brand quality, many of which are already standard among pop-up spaces.

Additionally, while modular shelving has already been a beneficial design for pop-up store spaces, now it is fundamental. Providing your customers with space is important. Just as important is the need to support browsing with minimal or safe contact. While customers remain uneasy about handling products, it is to the benefit of the business to present stock in such a way that this is not an issue.

These considerations are primarily important for your staff and customer safety and, for this reason, corners cannot be cut. Ensuring total consideration for each aspect of your pop-up will be time-consuming and, even somewhat more costly than it has been previously, but the assured health and comfort of your customers will be well-received.

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