How-to

8 Fatal Mistakes Online Retailers Make When Choosing A Pop-Up Store Location

pop-up store
Image via Theclickdesign

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Location, location, location. This is the key to making your pop-up store a success. Sometimes it can be hard to process the different variables that affect whether you have positioned yourself perfectly or located yourself in area where your business won’t thrive.

Retailers often make mistakes that could be easily avoided if only they took a step back and considered the complexities of location first. Here are the most common mistakes made by retailers and how you can avoid them.

  1. Ignoring Change

Prospective retailers often ignore that cities are versatile spaces; they can be vastly different places depending on the time of day or day of the week. For example, the daytime population of Westminster is 980,000 yet only 253,000 people are actual residents of the borough. Similarly, the City of London has a daytime population of 390,000 but only 11,700 people are actually residents of the area.

What this indicates is that you need to tailor your store to the demographic available when your store is open. Opening a nighttime pop-up shop for an area like the City of London is unwise because the population plummets outside of working hours, meaning footfall is low. Therefore you need to consider how your area has a vastly different social makeup and atmosphere depending on the time and day.

  1. Discrediting Local Restrictions

A lot of retailers do not consider that depending upon area, you may be at the whim of certain rules and regulations which dictate how your store can operate. Locating yourself in certain boroughs or streets may restrict the potential opening hours of your pop-up, the colours and decor you can use and even the products you can sell.

For example, if you wish to sell alcohol you will likely need a license from the local authority. Similarly if you want to host any events in your pop-up store, such as a launch event for publicity, you may need a license for live music, food and to allow certain numbers of people in your space. The local authority may even limit the nature of the decor in your pop-up as well as how you can use signs, fliers and banners to promote your store in the area.

Due to the costs and time consuming nature of trying to obtain the necessary licenses, you need to make sure the venue is already equipped to host your pop-up. If you don’t, the local restrictions and licenses can seriously hinder your entrepreneurial ambitions.

  1. Neglecting That Transport Is Key

Having the perfect retail unit to play host to your store is great, but if people cannot get there then it’s redundant. Retailers often fail to research the proximity of local parking facilities, such as on-street parking and multi-story car parks, and the costs involved of being able to use these parking spaces. If parking is nearby and affordable, highlight this to your customer because it only acts an incentive for people to come to your store.

In urban areas, parking is sparse. Therefore you need to research extensively the proximity and efficiency of local public transport links. If your shop happens to be particularly near prominent train or bus stations, use this as part of your advertising to emphasise how accessible your store is. Good transport links will also mean you have a naturally higher passing foot traffic, boosting exposure, but making a point of highlighting your accessibility will drive people towards you.

  1. Forgetting It Needs to Work For You Too

What many retailers forget in their focus to be convenient for the customer is that the location needs to work for them too. The location of the shop needs to be close enough for your supplier to be able to reach you with ease, and at all times of day. Equally, if you need to interact with any other of your other stores, you need to position yourself tactically so that you can easily access any sister stores.

Similarly, retailers ignore the logistical issues of their location. If you have a bulky inventory of large goods (such as furniture), locating yourself on a narrow street which lorries cannot access is a huge inconvenience to yourself. You need to be able to get your product in and out of stores with ease, so make sure to be pragmatic.

The mantra that the customer always comes first should always be stuck to. However choosing a retail unit that doesn’t meet the needs of you as a business owner is a sure-fire way to shoot yourself in the foot.

  1. Letting Local Issues Get in The Way

Image via ABCNY

When researching the local area, many retailers spend months digging in the history of the area and the current shops on the high street. Retailers often ignore looking at where the area is heading, both in the short and long term. This can be a very costly error, as even minor short-term disruptions to your local area can greatly affect the performance of your pop-up store.

In premise, a small bit of construction work near to your pop-up shouldn’t affect your store, but in actuality can be a real hindrance to reaching your maximum clientele. Nothing ruins your beautiful boutique more than heavy machinery, construction workers and signs right outside. Not only do they physically block your store, they also create noise and pollution that will dissuade casual shoppers from browsing the street eliminating the possibility of them visiting your store.

Similarly, research if there are any major transport disruptions imminent to your area. Any projects such as tarmacking roads or renovating train stations can block access to your area directly or cause long diversions which mean people will want to avoid your store. Even if you are located conveniently close to transport links, the disruption may make your shop inaccessible.

On the other hand, changes to the local area can also greatly benefit your pop-up store. The opening of any new transport links mean that people will be far more likely to come to your store as customers test the efficiency of new transport links. Utilise the fact that transport links have improved in any marketing materials to emphasize that your store is accessible.

Too few business owners make themselves aware of local events that could help boost footfall and subsequently, their income. Ensure to check if any carnivals, parades or celebrations occur that suit the identity of your brand, as you can use these to your advantage and seamlessly immerse your store into the identity of the local area.

  1. Paying The Wrong Price

Retailers face the predicament of whether to pay a premium for a prime location for their pop-up store, or whether to gamble and pay a lower rent and have more excess capital to spend on marketing, promotion and shop fit. Get the balance right and your pop-up will take off. Miscalculate this and you could have a serious misfire on your hands.

If you manage to secure a high cost rental unit in a prime location, it is likely your store is going to have high footfall and draw in your intended clientele. However the problem is that you then have less capital to invest in marketing to make your pop-up a shopping destination, and less money to invest in internal rewards and referral schemes and to spend on stock. This will leave you needing to hope your brand and location are strong enough to entice passers-by.

With a lower-cost rental unit, you may be further away from your intended clientele. However you will benefit from having the spare cash to fund more marketing initiatives, more stock and to introduce incentive and referral schemes for early customers in order to encourage repeat business. You can also use your unique location as a point of interest on marketing materials to entice customers. Although you’ll have to ensure your marketing strategy is effective enough to encourage your target market across to an area they wouldn’t conventionally shop in.

Many retailers gain a tunnel vision when it comes to deciding on their rent budget. Either they aim high in the firm belief that location is everything, or they go low because they are driven by what appears to be a bargain. As a retailer, you need to be more nuanced in your approach to strike the perfect balance between your needs and expenditure.

  1. Not Knowing Your Neighbors
pop-up shop location

Image via visitwales

Who your neighbors are can make or break your store. They are your direct competition for the interest of passers-by. However, they are also the reason there is footfall in your area and can help boost the appeal of your own pop-up store. Retailers often fail to understand that your neighbors benefit you, but only if you are different enough to draw in consumers.

Retailers tend to play it safe and launch stores in areas that have an established industry in the area. While this means you are guaranteed to have your target clientele already in the area, if you don’t do enough to differentiate yourself from the established competition, your pop-up shop will falter.

However, that is not to say that you should place your pop-up in an area with completely different stores and consumers in order to stand out. Unless you are creating an exceptional retail destination, high footfall and affordable rent mean nothing if those shopping in your location are completely disinterested, seeing no need for what you offer. Being unique is no good if no one cares.

The solution? Pick an area where the shops have a similar aesthetic and target demographic, but do not sell similar products. This way you’ll reach your customers and align yourself with brands in your industry. However, with growth in mind, you better be offering something different to set yourselves above your neighbors.

  1. Choosing The Wrong Type of Space

When opening a pop-up shop, choose a type of store that is in keeping with your brand identity. Many retailers fail to consider that their needs to be synergy between the type of space you rent and the experience you want to create. Whether it be putting your sleek, modern brand in a market space or your vintage clothes brand into a glossy show room, failing to match your physical space to your product can be a silly error. Having your store in the perfect location but in a type of shop that completely contradicts the aesthetic of your brand will lead to a lack of brand engagement, leaving visitors confused and you forgotten..  

High Street Boutiques

pop-up store paris

Charming Boutique in Pigalle, Paris

Locating yourself in a high street boutique is the perfect way to get exposure and footfall. Particularly in incredibly busy shopping streets like Fifth Avenue NY or Oxford Street London. Brands gain positive visibility simply by locating themselves next to other reputable brands. They are also more likely to entice casual consumers who don’t necessarily intend to spend money but can be drawn in by an eye catching shop window or freebies. These stores tend to offer the most visibility but also are most in demand, so you need to weigh up whether the cost is worth the individuality a high street store can give you.

Mall Shops

pop-up mall shop hong kong

Modern Mall Shop in Mong Kok, Hong Kong

Malls have more of a blank canvas feel than the high street, so you can move into the store quickly and efficiently and tailor the space to your needs, but it does lack the character a high street store can provide. The benefit of malls is that they often have far superior parking to high street stores and therefore if you are selling bulky, high order goods then people can easily transport them home. As experiential retail has gained traction in recent years, the opportunity to position yourselves near to restaurants, cinemas and the other facility a shopping centre may have to offer may be too good to refuse.

Gallery Spaces

pop-up gallery space new york

Stunning Gallery in Tribeca, New York

If you need a site with superb lighting, spacious interiors and wall space, a gallery space is for you. They are also particularly suited to hosting social events such as product launches and reception events. Galleries are probably most accustomed to the pop-up model due to the rotating nature of exhibitions and events held in their space.

Market Stalls

Market stalls generate a hype and buzz that can generate business for your pop-up. In recent years they have truly become events that draw in people looking for unique products you don’t find on the high street, so are a great location for a pop-up store. The temporary nature and high foot traffic of markets make them a great place to test products and get instant face-to-face feedback

Unique Spaces

Pop-Up Art Space London

Pop-Up Art Space in Soho, London

pop-up event space los angeles

Rooftop Event Space in The Arts District, Los Angeles

Retail doesn’t have to fit within the boundaries of conventional space. Why not pop-up in a place that no one would expect such as a rooftop or a barge? The best way to bypass a fixation on location is to make your pop-up so intriguing that it becomes a must see retail destination. So long as this is true to your brand and you have calculated the risks, being a bit eccentric can really pay off.

Finding the perfect location for your pop-up store can seem like a daunting task. With Storefront, finding and booking your perfect space is easy. To find out more, browse spaces in your city or download our Ultimate Pop-Up Guide and make your ideas happen.