Are pop-up stores worth the time and effort for an online retailer?

I’m an online retailer but am thinking of having a strategic physical presence in order to drum up more sales.


What do you think of pop-up stores? Are they worth the time and effort for an online retailer?


The biggest mental hurdle that many potential shoppers have with online retailers is that they don’t have a physical presence in the real world.


We have all read or heard about the “scam” online store that had a super flash website, and an apparently “secure” credit card payment hub – but, in actual fact, never delivered anything but a recurring debt on your credit card statement.


Whether these horror stories are true or not, the perception can be a massive obstacle to getting new customers.


Having a physical presence can really help give some virtual credibility to your online business, as customers can go and visit you if they want, or at least know that you really do exist.


The idea of a pop-up store has many positives for an online retailer. Here are some key examples:

  • You can promote on your website that you do “really” exist.
  • You can use your pop-up store to promote your online store and vice-versa.
  • You can use your pop-up store to get feedback on potential new product lines.
  • You can use your pop-up store to clear old stock and help with cashflow.
  • You can market yourself as a multi-platform retailer, which can give you an edge over your competition.

The trick is to have a rolling 12-month plan that you can actively market and promote, rather than just taking a stab at one site.


You would need to start establishing a relationship with various retail landlords and property managers, with the view to locking in short-term sites, and then communicating this to your existing and potential clientele.


Many of the bigger retail landlords have a dedicated “Casual Mall Leasing” manager, and you can lock in locations many months ahead, although some sites are often cheaper if you get them at the last minute.


One final word: If you are going to have a pop-up strategy, then stick to it. Four weeks maximum in one location and that’s it.


Don’t end up squatting on the one site for months and months on end, otherwise the whole appeal of the pop-up loses its excitement. Get in. Look sharp. Get out. Move on to the next one.


And promote it well!


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