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Sam Langley-Swain, Strategy Director

Pop-up shop designs are an effective experiential retail tool. Dumb Starbucks started as a parody and quickly became a retail phenomenon. Marc Jacobs took multi-channel to a whole new level by accepting tweets for payments at the Daisy Marc Jacobs Tweet Shop in NYC.

Pop-up shops are evolving fast, and delivering immersive, interactive and customer-focused experiences.

Pop-up retail is a great way to build a brand buzz, engage with customers, and leverage sales; and selecting the right location for a temporary store or activation is a hugely important task. While it can be easy to get carried away with creative ideas and big plans; brands and retailers need to prioritise what they need from a space.

Here, are ten things to consider when choosing a location for a pop-up shop:

1. Laws and Legislation

The first step when selecting a location should always be to research the laws and legislation surrounding the area. For example; some spaces have restrictions on trading hours that will need to be followed. Others may restrict the sale of certain products or determine where a pop-up shop can or can’t be situated.

By identifying all of this information before signing on the dotted line, it may serve as a ‘deal breaker’ on a location. Knowing all of this upfront will aid the smooth running of the activation and help avoid any nasty surprises.

2. Customer Footfall and Demographic

When it comes to choosing a location, the customer needs to be kept front of mind.

  • How many customers pass through the area?
  • What is the demographic?
  • Does this fit with your target audience and pop-up store goals?
  • How can this be capitalised upon, maximised and even increased?
  • Brands can have the most creative and experiential concept imaginable; but if the right audience doesn’t frequent the location, it won’t make much difference.
  • Pop-up shops should disrupt the natural customer journey, so a spot somewhere along this path is a smart and sensible consideration.

3. External Environment

One of the biggest lessons retailers can learn from Louis Vuitton’s Russian pop-up store mishap is to research the external environment and location. While Red Square provided the high footfall and brand exposure the luxury label wanted, they appeared to have forgotten to consider the cathedral and its relevance.

Brands should ask questions, conduct research, and speak to councillors and other figureheads to try and avoid similar complications. With these potential issues on the radar, it is much easier to work with them and provide a solution; being proactive will serve brands better than being reactive.

4. Size and Space

Brands many have the perfect idea for a pop-up execution in mind and the perfect location for it to go. However, when it comes to installation; the two just don’t marry up. Maybe the space is too vast, and the store gets lost? Maybe the store design is too big and simply doesn’t fit.

Either way, the shape and size of a location should be measured and considered accurately before signing on the dotted line. This will help to determine the technicalities of any shop development, and may even aid the creative process.

5. Accessibility

There is little use having a well-designed pop-up space and excellent products if customers can’t get to it.

Accessibility is always going to be an important factor to consider, and this can range from everything from wheelchair access to parking. It is the retailers’ job to make sure shoppers can get to their space; failing to do so will only lead to problems and challenges.

Find out how customers can get to the activation and include instructions on any marketing collateral. Make a point of designing a wheelchair-friendly space, and go above and beyond to make sure any retail space is accessible to as many people as possible.

6. Surrounding Shops

Frequently, a high footfall location equates to a busy retail environment. That means competing with neighbouring stores. Even though a pop-up will only be there for a short space of time, it is important to assess the impact on those stores.

Brands with competing views and values, for instance, may land themselves in hot water with nearby merchants. As part of the research stage, it is important to see how the pop-up and permanent locations can live in synergy and work together.

Likewise, there are benefits to selecting a site like this. For example, parking may already be available which helps to solve any issues surrounding accessibility. Choose carefully, and do the adequate research.

7. Brand Affiliation

Every brand has a set of stringent values they adhere to. For example, our client Nike takes corporate social responsibility extremely seriously. Because of this, the brand would require a pop-up shop location that met with these values to reinforce them to its customers. By researching any potential areas with brand values in mind, it is possible to avoid the kind of slip-ups that could deliver a PR blow.

8. Wi-Fi Availability

Planning to sell products in-store? Ask customers to interact and share their experiences online? Then a great Wi-Fi connection is a must.

Depending on the location – inside a shopping centre for instance – this might not be a concern, but it is worth doing the research. If Wi-Fi isn’t available, review the options and see what will work best for the store. It is also interesting to note that some mobile payment options fail to function without an adequate Internet connection; so brands need to research the most robust options for their needs.

9. Cost

For many, cost is the ‘deal breaker’ when it comes to selecting a location. Pop-up shops are a great way for smaller retailers to boost their brand profiles or test the water in new places. The cost associated with using some locations doesn’t even cover the money made with potential sales.

Hidden costs can also be a massive hindrance. To ensure they don’t get stung, brands should carefully research all locations to ensure they know exactly what they’re paying for and what this covers. Retailers should also consider some old fashioned haggling; driving costs down can sometimes be easier than first thought.

10. Think Outside the Box

Pop-up stores and spaces don’t – and shouldn’t – fit preconceived ideas and a particular trend. In their very nature, they are meant to be immersive, disruptive and create intrigue. With this in mind then, brands and retailers should think outside the proverbial box when it comes to sourcing locations. Here are some suggestions for spaces:

  • Shop-in-shops and retail concessions
  • Galleries and event spaces
  • Markets – both inside and outside
  • Festivals, fates and events
  • Shopping centres
  • Vacant street level retail spaces

As long as the aforementioned has been considered and all prior research carried out, pop-up retail spaces can be located just about anywhere. By challenging customer expectations and identifying new ways to bring a brand to life, the location should serve as the final piece in the pop-up store puzzle.

Pop-up shops are a great way to build brand buzz, leverage sales, enter a new market, launch a new product and more. By taking the time to consider a location carefully using the above, brands and retailers can maximise their experiential retail ROI.

At Green Room, we specialise in the design and delivery of immersive pop-up designs & solutions. To see some of our projects for clients such as Nike and VANS, view our work.