Ten years ago, the term pop-up shop was another word for trunk show, but now it seems like the solution or strategy for many new and old retailers. As brick-and-mortar continues to lose traffic to online many brands, even online retailers, and celebrities alike have turned to pop-up shops in locations as varied as shopping centers, trendy neighborhoods and popular shopping districts to provide a showroom, showcase the latest products, test merchandise and downsize store locations.
Retailers online presence focuses on the algorithms and data gathering that influence a purchase, while a brick-and-mortar presence enables them to engage with their customers face-to-face and allow the consumer to touch and feel the merchandise.
The pop-up concept is certainly attractive as it can be at a location for a short-term, cost less to rent, manage and build and test a market before a brand opens a full-fledged store and signs a long-term lease. Enclosed malls have been doing pop-up stores to some extent for quite some time and the concept is certainly more prevalent now that many centers are suffering from vacancies from anchor and long-time mall staples.
But what does all of this mean for traditional retail. Well, for one it creates an incredible opportunity for specialty leasing agents to bring in some steady revenue although in multiple short-term stints. Two it creates a great opportunity for online brands to get their feet wet in the traditional retail world and finally it adds to the overall journey of discovery every consumer yearns for in this Experience Economy.
Even brands like JCPenney utilized the pop-up store or store-within-store concept to revolutionize the store layout and make it easier for customers to find the brands they liked and for brands to have their own space to create a unique experience. In my opinion, it was a huge turning point for the brand - if it weren't for them dropping their signature coupons and discounting program for the length of time they did ... they would have been in a much better place than they are now.
One opportunity that seems to be still left untapped within the pop-up space is for anchor stores like Macy's and JCPenney to utilize a part of their parking lots to create their own outdoor experience center where they lease their space to brands either wanting to come into their stores or ones that are already there. Yes, it will eat-up some valuable parking space, but if that space is generating income and providing an experience I think it’s certainly worth testing. Not to mention the fact that we have transportation options like Uber and Lyft for cities that don't have the most efficient public transportation, but for the ones that do - how much non-revenue generating space do you need anyway?
With the continued emergence of the experience economy and the growth of e-commerce, mobile and even AR/VR/MR as a viable secondary retail channel, it is clear that the pop-up phenomenon is not going anywhere anytime soon.