This is a guest post from Tristan Pollock, Co-Founder of Storefront
Google “How to Open A Pop-Up Shop,” and you’ll find articles covering everything from Kanye West to Toys ‘R’ Us. Most of these posts offer valuable insights, but a deeper dive is necessary if you want create a pop-up shop experience that builds buzz and boosts sales for your brand.
When it comes to pop-ups, it’s all about the small nuances that help extend your brand DNA to your shopper, and help you present your product at its best. Breaking down what to look for in a retail space by exterior and interior amenities is a great way to compartmentalize what you’re truly looking for in a space, and to prioritize what you deem as most important.
Here are ten criterion to consider when scouting pop-up locations:
Many factors make up whether a potential retail space’s location is a good fit for your store. While potential target market foot-traffic is a great avenue when determining possible store locations, nearby retailers, and events occurring in the vicinity are also important.
Is the retail space in a nondescript building with a small entrance sign, or does the building have a grand entrance with a large logo? Both have their merits, but the intention may or may not work with your brand. Customers may associate your store to your brand more organically when they cannot see the building is owned by an outside entity.
However, an established retail space with large signage instantly gives your brand leverage in the consumer's mind. It is important to determine whether your brand can benefit from piggy-backing with a reputable brick and mortar, or if it is ready to hold up on its own.
Retail space owners normally ensure that the interior of the pop-up environment will be pristine upon arrival. But the exterior is susceptible to the elements.
For example, you can’t expect that after a big storm the listing agent will pick up every last blown leaf off of the sidewalk pavement. Assume the responsibility. Get out there with a broom, bring your own potted plants, or invest in a bottle of Windex to get every last curious face smudge off of windows.
Customers will be more apt to visit your pop-up shop if you make their life a little easier. Although an attached parking structure of some kind can be ideal in certain cities, it isn’t the most realistic in many urban environments. If a parking lot isn’t an option, create accessibility anyway you can. Research public transit routes to see if they run close to your potential store, and check parking meter rates, nearby paid parking lots, and times when street parking is free.
5. Surrounding Shops
Notice the surrounding retail stress in your future pop-up shop’s neighborhood. Do they align themselves with similar values and aesthetic as your brand while still being different enough not to attract competition? This is important to consider, because when established shops feel threatened by competing talent, you're missing out on important allies. Ensure that the stores feel welcome by your presence, and glean valuable information on what makes your shared target demographic tick.
1. Back Stock Space
Storage space for hiding your inventory is a great element to look out for when choosing a pop-up shop. Visible additional merchandise makes even the most immense of spaces look cluttered; even when hidden underneath tables. Granted, many spaces do not have this functionality. If the retail space doesn’t have a back room, see if it would be possible to create a make shift separation or partition (curtains etc.), so the space seems more professional and clean.
Lighting is imperative for setting the mood and displaying merchandise. Bad fluorescent lighting makes even the best fitting dress look like you squeezed into a sausage casing, and that you’ve aged 30 years. It does the same for merchandise on the selling floor. The same goes for how bright the bulbs shine. If your brand is more attune with a modern demographic, brighter lighting may work well with the style of clothing. More subdued, softer lighting pairs well with a brand that reflects a classic aesthetic. Many options are available to manipulate lighting in a pop-up space. Ask to see if the bulbs are on dimmer switches, or if lamps and portable lighting is available as an alternative.
One of the most important factors to consider. Shrinkage is always a risk when opening an offline environment. Cameras are a great tool in not only preventing customers from lifting merchandise, but also providing evidence for when you suspect or catch someone after the fact. If a retail space doesn’t have cameras, see if they have employed other tactics with previous pop-up shop vendors.
Wireless Internet is usually considered part of the non-verbal package when signing on to a retail space. However, it is important to double check with the leasing agent to guarantee that your space has proper high-speed internet access.
This is important both for back-end Point of Sale (POS) transactions, and front-end customer interaction. When customers can connect immediately to your online presence, they are able to navigate all of your selling channels to create a quicker sense of brand loyalty. Without a Wi-Fi connection, they would have to research at a later time. And at that point, you’ve lost their attention.
You may not be opening a pop-up restaurant, but you’d be surprised how important a sink becomes, especially when you realize you don’t have one. Spills happen, celebratory Champagne gets popped, clothes get smudged, and sinks are the catch-all that makes clean up easy.
Ultimately your brand personality should be unified with the space. Decide what factors are most important, and consistently check your list to see if the space is fully functional for you to succeed. Don’t lose focus of what truly matters.
To state it simply, think of this recent Valentine’s analogy: "We are immediately attracted to someone’s face, but you fall in love with their heart." Your choice in pop-up shop retail space should reflect the same thought.
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