Amazon is sponsoring ten pop-up shops across Britain over the next year to give a hundred small online-only brands a physical presence, in an attempt to improve its image on the high street.
The first opens today in Manchester and others will be in Wales, Scotland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and across the South East.
The online shopping giant, along with Direct Line for Business, the insurance provider, and Square, the mobile payments company, are funding Enterprise Nation, a support service for small businesses, to run the logistics behind the project. The brands then split the rent; for example, in Manchester, each pays £150 a week for a 12 sq m space.
Emma Jones, 47, founder of Enterprise Nation, said: “We’ve secured the shops, recruited the sellers and are fitting out the shops. The reason Amazon is backing the campaign is it wants its online sellers to have an opportunity to test physical retail.”
Independent research from the Clicks and Mortar project will be submitted to the government to help with its Future High Streets strategy, meaning that pop-ups could be a more permanent feature of the high street, she said.
The project is the third life raft that Amazon has thrown to the high street, which has been assailed by competition from online retailers. Having installed 2,500 self-service lockers at libraries, post offices and shops to which customers can have their purchases delivered, this month it launched “click-and-collect” counters in hundreds of Next shops across the country.
One of the brands to occupy a space in the Manchester pop-up will be Swifty Scooters, which was co-founded by Camilla Iftakhar, 39, and her husband in 2011. A permanent retail presence would not suit her business, she said, but pop-ups were useful in the busy months of spring and in the lead-up to Christmas.