Retail Operations

Passing Trend or Future Proof: The Truth About Pop-Up Shops

By Stephanie Boyle Dec 31, 2018
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These days, where there are crowds of eager shoppers, there is likely a pop-up shop. These temporary storefronts have been on the rise since the early 2000s—and not just in the retail industry. Pop-up restaurants, bars, concerts, workspaces, and even cat cafes have achieved a strong footing in today’s competitive market, yet it’s in the retail sector that the concept truly thrives.

The pop-up shop industry is valued at $50 billion. While pop-ups offer an attractive opportunity for e-commerce retailers, their more traditional brick-and-mortar counterparts can tend to be a little wary of the growing trend. The question for these retailers is whether pop-up shops are a transient fad or a long-term addition to the retail landscape. In other words, what do retailers with a physical storefront have to gain?

What Makes Pop-Up Shops So Popular?

From the consumer's perspective, pop-up shops offer something novel and exclusive. Shoppers have access to a curated selection of goods offered up in a unique setting staffed by friendly experts. The innate characteristics of a pop-up shop—that it’s open for a limited period of time and accessible only to knowledgeable insiders—create a sense of excitement that appeals to consumers looking for something unique.

From the e-commerce retailer's perspective, pop-up shops are a particularly useful marketing tool. Since many people like to try before they buy, pop-up shops give interested consumers a chance to experience an exclusively online brand’s product without having to commit to a purchase. From a brand’s point-of-view, the pop-up shop provides an opportunity to connect with more customers in a short period of time without having to sign a long-term shop lease or sacrifice their identity as an online only company. Plus, a pop-up shop comes with a natural urgency factor, so they are likely to benefit from a slew of customers—particularly millennials—who don’t want to miss out on this exclusive experience.


Is Pop-Up Retail Here to Stay?

Brick-and-mortar stores aren’t fading into obscurity as many predicted, but retailers are still looking to evolve this tried-and-true strategy. As retail leases become wholly unaffordable, online stores become more and more attractive. Commercial landlords seem to be taking note though, with many offering more short-terms leases available. This could lead to both new and established retailers increasingly considering the low-investment, low-risk potential of a pop-up shop as a viable alternative to a permanent location.

That said, it is not necessarily a one-or-the-other arrangement: some brands have been able to capitalize off both the in-store and pop-up shop experiences. Not only do pop-ups give consumers a new and novel way to buy, but they do it in an engaging physical setting rather than on an impersonal digital platform. Brands who use pop-up shops as a way to promote and exhibit their latest product releases can create a buzz about their offerings and then direct excited customers to their permanent storefront down the line. Plus, with today's consumers preferring customization and individuality, pop-up shops satisfy a growing demand, hinting at a sustainable business model.

Brick-and-mortar retailers should not view pop-up shops as a threat, nor should they consider them to be a simple passing trend not worth their time. Rather, they should view pop-ups as confirmation that discovering, handling, and purchasing goods in person is still important for consumers. When malls incorporate a host of rotating pop-up shops, consumers have a tempting reason to return, providing permanent stores with an opportunity to attract new foot traffic. As such, pop-up shops can be as beneficial to brick-and-mortar retailers as they are to e-commerce brands. Retailers who look beyond their own four walls can give their brands a fresh image and better connect with new customers. Better still, they can do it all without having to reinvent the wheel.


iQmetrix is a leading provider of omnichannel retail solutions. Our suite of products empowers retailers to find, follow, and fulfill consumers across channels. Contact our team to learn about expanding your retail footprint for the future.

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Photo Credits: Shuttertock / Tooykrub, Shutterstock / NYCStock, Shutterstock / Shootdiem

Retail Operations