Pop Up Stores as the Future of Retail

If you take a walk around most malls today, chances are you may come across a fair bit of empty lots which have not been rented out. Rather than looking at these as a reflection of the state of things, we look at these empty lots as opportunities for mall owners to tap upon a trend which is fast taking over the retail scene.

We are of course talking specifically about Pop Up Stores. This type or retail format is fast becoming a new darling among retailers. Before we go on, what exactly are Pop Up Stores? Traditionally, Pop Up stores refer to any type of retail space which is set up for a short term duration with the intention to take advantage of a seasonal demand or even a fast growing fad in retail.

The Pop Up Store was commonly used by retailers during the holiday season but today it can be seen more commonly used as a tool by brands to create a more meaningful connection between themselves and their customers. As such, Pop Up Stores have begun to take on a more experiential feel by allowing brands to provide product demonstrations, expert consultations and just as a way for the customer to sample the brands range of products and all the while nudging the customer closer to making a purchasing decision with the brand. In short, to have a Pop Up Store today, you need to ensure that they are fun, immersive & selfie worthy.

Would malls benefit from hosting Pop Stores within their spaces?

The main question we would like to deal with is would malls benefit from hosting Pop Stores / Spaces within their malls? Our resounding answer is Yes! and this is the reason.

First off, malls which host Pop Up Stores would have an opportunity revitalise spaces which are experiencing what we would call a pause in rental. If any space within a mall is seen as vacant for too long, shoppers will very quickly develop an impression that the mall is not doing well and on its way down. Thus, hosting a Pop Up Store within the said space would be a great way to counter potential negative impressions from forming whilst also engaging customers interest to interact with the Pop Up Stores.

Hosting Pop Up Stores in malls also brings in fresh new retailers into the mall who would not otherwise consider opening in a mall. This way, young entrepreneurs have a chance to expose their business / brand to a captive group of shoppers and shoppers will be exposed to brands who they most likely would not have encountered under normal circumstances. The key here would be to ensure that these Pop Up Stores have an experiential element in their offerings and are not just there to meet purely commercial objectives. For example, with Boba tea concepts having a resurgence in the market right now, would it not be interesting to organise a Boba tea festival within the mall which features the different types of Boba tea retailers in the market brought together as sort of a celebration of all things Boba.

Having Pop Up Stores within the mall will also allow management to experiment with potential new and untested tenants that they are unsure off in terms of fit within the mall tenancy mix. These new Pop Up concepts would have a chance to determine if the mall would be a fit for them whilst allowing the management to determine how well shoppers would respond to these concepts.

With the exception of branded Pop Up Stores / Concepts, most Pop Ups tend to be run by local entrepreneurs with little or no capability to afford a presence within a shopping mall. By having these small operators set up a Pop Up Store within the mall, management can be seen as promoting and supporting local entrepreneurs by exposing them to the customers who frequent the mall and would act as a sort of an advocate by giving these smaller entrepreneurs as voice and space in the retail market.

What elements go into creating the perfect Pop Up Space?

Before embarking on filling your mall with Pop Up Concepts in untenanted lots, we believe certain considerations need to be put in place. First and foremost, the Pop Up Stores location within the mall must not be an afterthought. What this means is that the space in question should be easily accessible to shoppers and not tucked away in a corner of the mall which no one knows exists or would be difficult to get to.

Secondly, mall management needs to set up basic amenities within the space such as lighting, ventilation and electrical (power & Internet connection). It is important to note that these set ups need not be elaborate and should be as simple as possible. This will allow the Pop Ups to be easily set up and dismantled once the Pop Up Event is over or if the space is rented out to a tenant and the Pop Up Concept needs to moved to another location within the mall.

Lastly, It is important for the mall management to have a theme for the Pop Up Concept as this will go a long way to looking for the right type of Pop Up Store to come into the space as well as shaping an experience for the shoppers visiting the Pop Up Event. Since Malaysia is also home to many different festivals and celebrations, it is our recommendation that Pop Up Stores be set up during the quieter times of the year where there may not be much going on as this will allow the mall to easily advertise the Pop Up Event and generate interest with the shoppers.

All things considered, Pop Up Stores / Spaces are here to stay as brands continue to look for opportunities to forge closer ties with their customers through new experimental experiences and young entrepreneurs continue to look for new chances to showcase their brands to the world. We strongly believe that the mall has a relevant and immensely important role to play here as a connector between these brands or entrepreneurs with the communities in which the mall is located in.

article by Tim Liew & Pamy Wong

Retail is in our blood. In our 15 years as retail consultants and designers; we have worked with retail brands with only 1 goal in mind, to build profitable businesses for my retail clients. Connect with us if you have more questions about this article or even your thoughts on this sharing. Please feel free to share this piece with your friends who are in the restaurant business. For more questions about how we can help in working with you to design your retail space which will connect with your shoppers, connect with us at connect@viscreative.com #VisCreative #DesignProfitableSpaces #Retail #Business #Money #Mall