Sometimes it pays to not be permanent

People love novelty. The food truck craze of the mid-2010s was built almost entirely on the novelty of, “Where will it be next?” Street tacos somehow taste better when a mid-morning tweet tells you they’ll be two blocks from your office at lunchtime.

But while the novelty of food trucks is fading, pop-up shops are going strong. Temporary retail experiences have come a long way since yard sales. Now, a pop-up shop can be anything from a space at the farmer’s market to an ‘80s-themed neon gas station with real vintage arcade games, slurpee machines and more (which is exactly how Adidas launched the Falcon shoe in LA).

All pop-ups have one thing in common, though: They won’t last forever. Here are a few ways pop-up shops can be good for business.

Offer a New Branded Sales Channel
Pop-ups are one way for primarily online businesses to expand their purchasing channels, with the added benefit of making real, face-to-face customer connections. Believe it or not, shoppers still love browsing stores, talking to knowledgeable salespeople and seeing demos.

The luxury golf brand G/FORE opened a great pop-up on Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue this winter. Their products are sold online and at golf retailers, so the heavily branded and visually arresting pop-up was not only a novel brand experience designed to generate PR, but also a great way to sell directly to consumers in one of America’s biggest golf communities.

Do Retail on a Budget
Pop-up shops can be very cost-effective. First, they tend to be small, so you’re not paying for massive square footage. Second, they’re temporary, so there isn’t the high commitment level of a long commercial lease. And third, they have less exacting space needs; you fit the shop to the space, not vice versa.

Pop-ups are also there to sell everything on the floor, so you don’t need storage for months of inventory. All of your staffing and infrastructure needs are temporary, too, so rather than hire full-time employees and buy fixtures, you can operate with contractors and rentals.

Experiment & Test New Markets
This is probably the most important business advantage of a pop-up shop: It’s an effective testing ground.

First, pop-ups are an easy, low-risk way to test a new market. If there is lots of interest and sales are strong, it might be a good place to open permanently. If it doesn’t go well, you just saved your business from a much more expensive mistake.

Similarly, pop-up shops are great for soft-launching products or testing a new collection. The small-scale nature of it lets you gather enough feedback to confidently pursue a larger rollout. And because they can be highly branded and visually experimental, pop-ups are a cool way to curate brand experiences that immerse people in something more than just a product.


About Brand Poets

Founded by Tana M. Llinás, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention. Instagram: @BrandPoets

This article was originally published in the Community Newspapers.

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