Pop-up retailing is a growing trend bridging the divide between online and traditional brick-and-mortar storefronts.
Rather than tying up capital in a long-term lease, pop-up stores allow a business to temporarily operate a new physical location to generate brand awareness, take advantage of seasonal demand or test a new market.
Pop-up retail can take several forms. One common example is Halloween costume stores operating out of empty stores to seize on seasonal demand. Local craft markets or street fairs provide temporary booth or kiosk space while attracting potential customers. In downtown Seattle, Westlake Park is home to a holiday pop-up marketplace where the vendors will change each week.
New takes on pop-up retailing include making permanent spaces consistently available to pop-up stores. The high-end shopping area of Newbury Street in Boston is home to a 3,000-square-foot retail space that changes tenants every few weeks. Galleries or other spaces can diversify revenue streams by opening up to pop-up retailing events on an ongoing basis.
Is adding pop-up retailing to your business worthwhile?
If your business growth plans include any of the following, exploring pop-up options may be for you.
Launching a new product line: Pop-up stores in high-visibility areas serve as marketing channels for new offerings. While the bulk of your sales may come from your online storefront, pop-up locations allow you to showcase your product to new potential customers.
Expanding geographically: Small businesses considering a new branch or location can start with a pop-up location to generate interest and test the waters before making a substantial investment. Our region is growing and many locations that were not commercially viable a few years ago may have a critical mass of customers to justify expansion.
Targeting different market segments: Repeat customers are the best customers, but growth requires attracting new clients. If you are targeting a different market demographic, the pop-up option allows you to test marketing concepts.
Seasonal opportunity: If you have products that are weather dependent or holiday based, pop-up retail may be a far better investment than a year-round operation. Of course, busy seasons like Christmas are likely to be more expensive to secure an ideal location, so careful return on investment calculations are still needed.
Ideally your pop-up operation should drive customers to your online or permanent locations during the rest of the year.
The customer experience in your temporary shop should match or exceed the standards in your permanent storefront. You should strongly consider having experienced staff anchoring your pop-up store to build relationships with new customers. Additionally, ensure the look and feel of your pop-up location reflects your brand image.
While it may be too late to launch for this year’s holiday season, think about how this new retail trend fits into your marketing strategy for the coming year. By keeping capital costs low and customer service high, a pop-up location can help your business take the next step forward.
Ryan Davis is the dean of the Business and Applied Technology Division at Everett Community College. Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.