Bloomberg Businessweek has a story about PopUp Republic, "which helps brands create and market temporary locations, estimates the pop-up retail industry has grown to $10 billion in U.S. sales across numerous categories from fashion to tech. Retailers such as Amazon.com Inc. and Nike Inc. have tried out temporary locations, and Macy’s Inc. a few years ago began opening pop-up marketplaces in its own department stores."
The story notes that brands around the world are trying to be creative in how they employ the concept - "Gucci rented a Milan apartment to show off its home decor, Pantone served pastries and coffee from a cafe in Monaco, and Lego opened an art gallery in London."
But, as some of these brand names suggest, the pop-up format can be expensive, because it involves "outfitting an entire storefront for just a few months, weeks, or days." Or it can involve something even more elaborate (like the Gucci-outfitted apartment).
One example of a recent effort was "Cuyana, a San Francisco-based premium fashion label, (which) is taking its traveling showroom on a summer road trip. The portable pop-up presents retailers and malls with a new way to sell goods, gather data, and try out locations without committing to a larger lease or paying repeatedly for major renovations. Just load the whole thing onto a truck and plop it down somewhere … In this case, the areas in question are shopping malls, which have struggled to find uses for idle square footage in an era of fewer visitors and higher vacancy rates. The pitch for mall operators is that they can take an area they’re not trying to rent long term—a few parking spaces, a courtyard, or an empty atrium—and make some money off it."
- KC's View:
I tend to think of pop-up stores less literally than Bloomberg Businessweek does in this case, because I think they offer a thematic ideas about how more food retailers ought to approach business. Rather than be locked into doing business traditional locations, why couldn't retailers - for example - use the pop-up store concept to allow shoppers to pick up holiday pre-orders from locations that are away from the store, and maybe even are in neighborhoods the retailer doesn't traditionally serve? Why couldn't they use the pop-up concept to test out remote hubs for both pickup and delivery of all online orders?
Or why couldn't a retailer use a pop-up to test a new format - maybe one that is fresh food-focused, with all center store-type products available online - without having to make a major investment in new real estate? Or go the other way, and test a pop-up convenience store format?
I would think of pop-up stores as another potential weapon in a quiver that can also include dark stores, ghost kitchens, and food trucks. It isn't a bad idea to keep customers guessing, competitors off-balance, and employees engaged in something new that can create new opportunities.