Candice talks about the benefits of pop-ups and why one should consider this as an option when starting a new retail business.
Like the upgraded versions of garage sales, which are still cool in every possible way, pop-up stores have popped up all across the nation over recent years, establishing themselves as the go-to, almost hipster-like form of retail. Allowing budding businesses to nurture a personal relationship with their consumers, test out their products on the market, and all while dishing out only half as much on rent as traditional retailers, pop-up stores are a prime example of being “bougie on a budget.”
Pop-ups, also known as temporary retail and flash retailing, are characterized by their short leasing periods lasting from as little as 3 days to 6 months and, typically, reduced retail space. Taking up otherwise vacant storefronts, they create new and unique experiences for the brands and the consumers to kind of get a feel for each other and create an offline relationship. Not only limited to retail, but they can also essentially be used for any type of business, including foodservice and more.
With its most notable roots in Los Angeles, the trend quickly gained traction with businesses and bigger brands in the early 2000s. According to EE‘s Britain’s Pop-Up Retail Economy 2015 report, the industry is worth around £2.3 billion and has brought in £2 billion during the holiday season, and it’s only rising every year.
Pop-up collectives such as Lone Design Club are also highly cost-effective ways of creating brand awareness and allowing multiple brands to showcase and sell their product. Pop-up malls, like the Boxpark in Shoreditch and Croydon, are also great hosts. As the first pop-up mall in the world, the Boxparks create a community of brands from all genres in one location where consumers and visitors can essentially spend a good amount of their day exploring the plethora of brands and restaurants offered. Located in a trendy location with high foot traffic, brands are given a good base to explore the market and develop brand awareness in an already notable establishment. With a regularly rotating assortment of brands and businesses, they give a taster for consumers, and it’s also great for testing out new collections and products.
The shorter leasing periods of pop-ups give business owners flexibility and room to explore and experiment their products in different areas and locations to find the right fit for their brand. With the ever-increasing rent prices, it’s becoming more and more difficult for businesses to start their own physical stores.
Most commercial leasing contracts require a minimum of 1-3 years from tenants, which could trap a new business if their products don’t sell well to the consumer demographic in the area or if they’re just not doing well, in general. Pop-ups allow businesses to test their products in the area and kind of dip their toe into the consumer market pool before committing to a permanent location.
Another beneficial way to utilize pop-ups is to use them as an advertisement for one’s online store or already opened store. Successful online retailers are also utilizing pop-up brands to test the waters before making the jump for a physical location, and they could create foot traffic to their store by opening a pop-up in a more populated area and promoting their products to the target consumers who wouldn’t have come over otherwise.
ZARA recently opened a digitally-focused pop-up location in Westfield Stratford Mall in London when expanding and refurbishing their flagship store, which was also located in the mall. Lasting until May of this year, it allowed customers to make online purchases, as well as online pick-ups. It might seem redundant to open a pop-up store where their permanent location is already located, but by doing this, they were able to keep consumers interested in the brand and keep the foot traffic to the store’s location in the mall during the refurbishment. When the original store reopened, it was as if they were never closed.
Glossier, a makeup brand started in 2015 by Emily Weiss in New York, developed a cult following for their products through effective advertisement and product placements on Instagram before opening pop-ups across the globe, eventually opening their Los Angeles location and New York showroom.
Having been online-exclusive until only recently, they opened up multiple pop-ups in locations including London and San Francisco to the excitement of their followers throughout the years to see where their products would sell the best. With influencers and celebrities such as Beyoncé and The Anna Edit, a Brighton- native Youtuber, promoting the brand, it is rapidly growing as they expand and branch out, and popping their stores into several locations for a few weeks is one of their go-to strategies for testing the success of their products with offline sales.
Pop-ups are also a great way for online brands, such as Glossier, to develop and provide an authentic relationship and experience for their consumers. With products on display and samples aplenty, it’s almost like you’re visiting the
traveling circus or amusement park, with the fun rides and amazing acts but excluding the scary clowns and sometimes sketchy carnival food. People are able to test out the products and ask about the ethos of the brand and company. Interacting and connecting with your consumers is one of the most effective ways to develop a following for your brand, and pop-ups really allow businesses to do just that without all of the commitment of a permanent space.
The engagement between the sales associates and buyers create a sense of trust and relativity between them. This more personal approach is what helps brands develop a loyal consumer base and keeps them coming back for more. Because of the temporary nature, the costs for hiring out staff is also lower as they are only needed for the duration of the pop-up. After figuring out their consumer demographic and establishing that relationship, they can then look to opening a more permanent location with an idea of how their sales might fare in the area.
Opening a store is always a risk, be it from an already successful or emerging brand or business, but it is almost a vital aspect and next step for most businesses and brands with over 90% of sales still being made offline. With ever-changing factors such as the economic state of a country, the demographics of an area, and other evolving businesses in the area, there’s never a certainty for success that can be blindly trusted in. Acting as the businesses’ training wheels or swim floaties, pop-up stores essentially remove the blindfolds and give a clearer insight into the area and people.
If you’ve been planning to open a store but are intimidated by the high rental prices, long contracts, and market uncertainty, consider opening a pop-up location first to get your gears moving towards a permanent shop. Everybody loves samples, which is essentially what you’ll be providing your customers with at a pop-up. So, if you’re a brand or business owner, get popping and start scouting for pop-up locations, and if you’re a consumer, pop on
over to these stores to get your sample. Pop-ups are popping into our hearts, and there are no signs of them leaving, yet! Okay… I’ll stop with the puns now, but you get the idea.
You can see more of Candice’s work on Instagram by following @Candice_x9.
Images via: Appear Here Glossier/Instagram Haper’s Bazaar Lone Design Club