Amid the angst about casual mall licensing, it can be difficult to balance both sides of the argument – are pop-up stores a help to the retail sector, or a hindrance? Well that depends of course.

When pop-up stores are launched in a way that is respectful and supportive of existing retail tenants, they can be an incredibly valuable resource for everyone in the entire centre.

While long-term tenants maintain the stability of the overall shopping centre, these casual little stores and stands keep shopping centres fresh and dynamic –  something that consumers really demand in a modern retail environment – as they’re designed to be temporary and offered on a rotation basis.

Additionally, they’re also an important step for the next generation of Australian retailers!

For the first time in history, we’re seeing young, enthusiastic entrepreneurs able to launch their own brands directly to their consumers. They are building their channels, cultivating their following, and then launching their product offering – it takes time, energy and patience.

Instagram, for example, has given rise to an entirely new brand of retailer – many of whom may never have had the chance to launch their own labels or businesses in the ‘old’ environment.

These enthusiastic new retailers are working their tails off cultivating digital devotees, following their business dreams from lounge-rooms and kitchens around the country.

For many, being able to connect with their customers in a physical environment is a natural progression, however launching into a fully-fledged (and fully-financed) physical store is far too much, too soon. The expensive lease agreement, full store fit out, ongoing overheads and heavy compliance costs and more likely to become an express ticket to failure.

While they have great ambition, innovative ideas, and oodles of enthusiasm, most of these new business operators also have limited experience dealing with landlords, Australian tax law or business management operations.

At the end of the day, we know that retail in 2018 is vastly different from even five years ago, and that growing a retail offering just doesn’t work like that anymore. These new retailers are simply finding new pathways to make their mark.

But, they must be physically unique and desirable, well-merchandised and well-curated for the demographic and the time, must offer convenient payment methods and be operated by staff with exceptional customer service skills.

If you’re a start-up or even an established retailer heading in to the pop-up environment, there are a few things to consider first:

  • Physical appearance – Get creative and think outside to box on how to create a unique and incredibly appealing look and feel. When you’re offering delicious food, your consumer is going to be immediately drawn to the joy and experience this creates. Amp that up by focusing on all the senses – who could resist the combination of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste? Just make everything consistent, so it’s a seamless experience.
  • Timing – when you open can make or break your success. For delicious food offerings, think about the type of product you’re selling, and who your buyer is. Bespoke, gift-style confectionary and chocolates that are presented exquisitely could be far more successful in the days before Mother’s Day, or in the lead up to Christmas.
  • Location – Don’t end up hidden away down an alleyway that’s designed for perfunctory purposes! You want to be highly visible, in an area with as much foot traffic as you can handle.
  • Interactivity – make sure your socials are up to scratch, and if you’re selling a delicious food offering, get creative with your hashtag, and ask your consumers to get involved online. You can display clear signage encouraging people to post their photo your delicious treats, tag the store, and go in the draw to win a special pack of goodies, for example.
  • Logistics – No-one has cash anymore, and no-one is going to come back after going to the ATM! Consumers need convenience, so you need to make it easy for them to pay with the fastest, easiest and most seamless payment methods on offer. And of course, make sure your insurances are in order.

Given the opportunity to build their businesses through smaller, bite-sized chunks, these bespoke pop-ups may just become the anchor tenants of the future!