Entrepreneurs are known for finding a problem and offering a solution with their products and services, popup stores are no different. Entrepreneurs have found new ways to bring their products to customers while curating unique shopping experiences through popup stores. The increasingly popular trend of Brick and Mortars has expanded across the globe.
Originally, the concept of retail pop-up stores was popularized by Japanese fashion label Comme des Garçons. The founder, Rei Kawakubo, opened the label’s first pop-up store in Berlin in 2004. The concept has since then evolved into a popular business model for retailers.
As retail chains began closing around the country, business experts speculated over the longevity of the Brick and Mortar business model. The average length of a retail lease went from 20 years in 1991, to five years according to commercial real estate services firm CBRE.
Long term leases offer less flexibility for cash strapped entrepreneurs which is why Brick and Mortars are more attractive to business owners. What was once thought to be a “short term” fad that would soon disappear, seems to be standing the test of time. The pop-up industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry expected to reach $80 billion.
Popup stores enables retail brands to bring their products to the customer. One of the great benefits of a popup is that the overhead expenses are by far less expensive than actually owning a long-term retail space. Entrepreneurs have the flexibility to scale at a pace that benefits their business. A Popup shop is the perfect opportunity to “test” a business idea or products with little to no commitment. Here are 13 key steps to set up your popup store.
Define your goals
Yes, you have to plan to launch a popup. I know it seems rather straight forward to simply find a space and set up shop, however, you still need to plan how you will target customers, and market the popup shop to ensure you meet your overall goals.
Do your homework
What popup shops are trending right now and why? What temporary retail stores are the most successful? Your research should include what are your competitors offering? What’s their pricing? What are some of the trends that are happening in your market with popup shops? Who is your ideal client?
Finding the right store locations
It’s a good idea to find a location that has a lot of foot traffic. You don’t necessarily have to be in the middle of the busiest block, but at least within a few blocks. Make sure that the space is large enough to house all of your products including décor and equipment. If your space is commutable that’s a huge plus, including ample parking.
Visit store locations
If you want to get a better understanding of how retail stores display their products, visit your local boutiques and department stores. Items are strategically placed in certain areas to highlight the products.
A few things to pay attention to with this design concept is the use of space, including the flow of the area. If you’re selling handbags for example, take a closer look at how the bags are displayed, to give you an idea on how to arrange your products. What kind of lighting is used in the store? Lighting actually helps with showcasing products.
Pay close attention to shelving placement. What items are grouped together? After visiting each shop, what did you learn about the customer experience in retail stores?
What type of customer experience do you want to provide for your customers? When a customer walks through your store, what story does the space tell about your brand? Your brand’s message and identity should reflect in your design space as well as your logo, color scheme, décor, shopping bags and even in your marketing. Create a “mood board” to help you visualize your design concept.
For small businesses, every dollar counts, especially spending dollars! Prior to signing a lease with your landlord, read the terms of the lease agreement carefully.
If you can afford an attorney to overlook the terms of the lease, please hire an attorney! You want to ensure that you understand what is outlined in the lease. What your landlord obligations are? Do you need insurance? What type of business are you allowed to conduct in the commercial space? Be sure to understand fully, the operating costs. What will your landlord cover? What costs will be passed onto you as an occupant. You may need to set aside additional savings for the anticipated expenses.
Unlike residential properties, commercial landlords may ask for a security deposit that covers up to 12 months rent. In most states, there isn't a "legal maximum allowed limit" to what your landlord can request upfront.
Space needs Improvements
If the space you're renting is in need of improvements, this information needs to be CLEARLY outlined in your lease. You need to know what expenses will you cover for the improvements and what the landlord is willing to contribute towards the improvements. If possible, negotiate your lease based on the improvements needed.
One thing to be aware of is, some landlords will offer to make the improvements on the space, then charge the "upgrades" or "improvement fees" to the tenant. Don't fall for it! Get it in writing who will be responsible for what, so you're not stuck paying a bill you never agreed upon.
Maintenance & Utilities
Your lease agreement will have a section outlining who will be responsible for paying for ongoing maintenance, utilities and building code inspections. First, understand what your rights are as a tenant and what you're legally responsible for paying as well as your landlord. From there, negotiate the expenses expected to be paid and the date they're due.
Choose a Point of Sale System
A Point of Sale System collects and process payments however, thanks to the advancement of technology, its features include tracking inventory, staff management, and it can collect customer information such as emails, for promotional offers. Here’s a list of services to choose from. Plans start at $59.00 per month or $680.00 for a flat rate fee, depending on the service provider.
Most of the options listed give users the ability to connect the software to your IPAD so you don’t have to deal with a lot of equipment installation. The services also offer customizable solutions based on your business needs.
You'll want to purchase insurance to protect your business and equipment however, your landlord may request that you purchase additional insurance based on the terms of your lease agreement and the type of business you're operating.
I recommend that you hire someone with retail experience. Why? Because they have the background and experience working in retail. You want someone who loves what they do, enjoys working with customers and understands how to run, manage and operate a store.
Create a “mini training manual” that outlines the employee’s job description, hours of operation, and make sure that they familiarize themselves with the products sold in the store.
Do your research to ensure that you’re in compliant with the labor and employment laws. One thing you want to be certain about is if you’re required to pay minimum wage or offer health insurance.
Returns and Refund Policy
Returns and Refunds are part of every retail business process. Create a returns and refund policy. Make sure it’s visible in your store, website, receipts and the check-out counter.
Launching a popup store enables retail brands to bring their products to the customer. Think about a popup store as a “low cost” solution for opening your own Brick and Mortar. The overhead expenses are by far less expensive than actually owning a long-term retail space. A popup store offers you the flexibility to scale at a pace that benefits your business. If you’re still “on the fence” with opening your own retail store, a popup shop is the perfect opportunity to “test” your business idea with little to no commitment.