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A creative sales channel

Pop-up stores: Furnishings in the flesh

Pop-up shops have developed very quickly from a quirky idea into a regular feature of the retail landscape. These fun, short-lived shopping spaces can boost sales and build long-term customer loyalty.

Pop-up stores represent a new, creative sales channel for the interior design industry. (Photo: Artem Beliaikin on Pexels)

Pop-up stores represent a new, creative sales channel for the interior design industry. (Photo: Artem Beliaikin on Pexels)

Pop-up stores: definition and origin

“Pop-up shops” are a trending phenomenon involving brands opening retail spaces at random just for a short time before closing them again. The idea behind this tactic is to generate interest, create a sense of urgency and prompt people to visit the shop as soon as possible because of the limited window of opportunity. Pop-ups usually have a theme, offer some kind of exclusive promotional gift or product, are totally unique and are not quickly forgotten.

Augmented reality , virtual sales advice and digital showrooms : while concepts for contactless shopping have become increasingly diverse in recent years, pop-up stores focus on something that the other strategies do not deliver: direct client contact. They offer businesses an opportunity to have a physical presence and interact with their target groups. In a world where the only connection is often made via a screen, this is not something to be underestimated.

Although the concept of temporary, shared sales spaces has actually been around for centuries, the term “pop-up retail” didn’t appear until the late 1990s. In 1997, media entrepreneur Patrick Courrielche organised an event in Los Angeles called the Ritual Expo. It took place over a single day and combined music, food and fashion in a single shopping experience. Nicknamed the “ultimate hipster mall”, the one-day event, with its mix of retail shops and experiences, was extremely successful. In the years following the Ritual Expo, many major brands like Levi-Strauss and Motorola worked with Courrielche to create pop-up shopping experiences across the United States.

However, it took another 20 years for the modern pop-up shop as we now know it to evolve. Against the background of the so-called “retail apocalypse” and the decline of the traditional retail model, flexible shopping opportunities and pop-up stores have become more and more prominent.

Pop-up stores: advantages for the interior design industry

Pop-up stores are unique and exclusive. They create a retail environment with a certain je ne sais quoi, distinct from what customers are familiar with. There’s a whole range of attractive advantages that manufacturers and designers can benefit from:

  • Reach potential customers: A pop-up store in a new location with high footfall gives brands the opportunity to connect with a new audience.
  • Offer an experience: The pop-up retail concept can be used to provide a time-limited experience or reinforce a brand message through positive customer engagement. Brands can position themselves as cultural influencers, expand their reach and build brand loyalty. As powerful as e-commerce may be, nothing compares to direct face-to-face interaction. Especially in the interior design industry, the opportunity to physically experience furniture still plays a major role.
  • Conduct market research: By means of promotions, events or competitions, a pop-up experience provides businesses with the ideal touchpoint to gain insights that will help them better understand their target groups. Such information can be instrumental in guiding future activities right across an organisation.
  • Sell more and clear out stock: Although times are changing, the fact remains that a large number of purchases are still made in physical shops. A temporary shop window in an area with high footfall can create a sense of urgency – i.e. artificial scarcity – and boost sales or help brands sell their stock to make room for new merchandise.
  • Launch a new product: A pop-up event is a great way to make a splash when introducing a new product or product line.
  • Try out physical retail: An online shop looking to take the next step can use a pop-up event to see whether its concept will work in brick-and-mortar retail.
  • Trial new retail locations: Brands aiming to build their profile can try out new city districts or even countries before deciding on a permanent location, thereby significantly reducing costs.

The Swedish furniture giant is now expanding its successful business model with the addition of pop-up stores. Photo: IKEA

The Swedish furniture giant is now expanding its successful business model with the addition of pop-up stores. Photo: IKEA

The experience value of temporary retail space

From fashion and food to furnishings: many brands are already harnessing the power of pop-up stores for themselves. Zalando, for example, wants to open a staggering eleven temporary shops, all focused on second-hand fashion. The e-commerce firm has already been active in the vintage market for a year with the Zalando Zircle app, through which customers in Germany can sell their used clothing. On the heels of the app, the company now plans to transfer the concept to brick-and-mortar retail with eleven pop-up stores – for a short time at least.

IKEA aims to demonstrate that the concept can also work in the interior design industry. The Swedish furniture giant is opening two pop-up stores in Germany this winter. The new concept will be tested in Wolfsburg and Ravensburg. IKEA’s temporary stores will be much smaller than its conventional retail spaces. Another thing that’s different about them is that shoppers won’t be able to buy items to take home from the pop-up stores. Instead, the Scandinavian retailer’s primary focus in its new shops is on advice and planning. Cologne-based design studio Rahmlow , known for its minimalist designs, implemented a similar concept. In cooperation with Readymade, a start-up engaged in renting out designer furniture, Rahmlow opened a pop-up store in the run-up to Christmas that gave customers the opportunity to try out sitting on, lying on and living with its designs.

Pop-ups: creative, spontaneous, flexible

Despite all the advantages offered by online shopping , customers still like to visit outlets where they can experience brands in person and come into physical contact with them. The success of pop-up stores is clear evidence of this. The ephemeral store concepts inspire customers and create memorable experiences – offering a unique sales channel that gives retailers and manufacturers creative freedom.

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