A pop-up store is a tool designed to attract consumers, get a brand talked about or test your business before taking the big step! However, as is the case when you open a permanent business, the project has to be prepared in advance. What do you have to consider before opening a pop-up store?
“Pop-up store”, “flash retailing” and “temporary shop” refer to the same thing: a point of sale opened for a limited period of time! Surprise and daring are also part and parcel of the concept. Due to its short lifespan, the pop-up store must provide customers with a novel experience.
The concept, has been used in United States for 20 years and in Belgium for a decade, and it hasn’t lost its appeal.
The goals of pop-up stores vary:
- For brands, the goal is often to create a connection and interact with consumers. Customers discover the product and the brand can benefit from low-cost marketing with a big impact.
- Pop-up stores enable future retailers to test one or several locations, to test products, to introduce themselves to the general public, to start building customer loyalty, and to try out retailing, all at a lower cost, without having to obtain a long-term lease and without incurring the expense involved in opening a permanent outlet.
- Pop-up stores provide creators and artisans with an opportunity for public exposure.
- For some sellers, it provides an opportunity to sell off old inventory without an intermediary or to sell seasonal
- For customers, it’s an opportunity to have a new experience, discover new products in exclusivity, and to enjoy novel products.
- Lessors can rent their space between two long-term leases and avoid being without a tenant or promote their commercial unit thanks to a dynamic concept.
- The pop-up store can also be used as a tool to boost the development of a street or of a neighbourhood.
Pop-up stores provide a way to test a business before making it permanent, an opportunity for owners to rent their empty space on an occasional basis and for brands to create buzz. And more! It has become a new economic model. Some brands and concepts no longer weigh themselves down with a long-term lease but open one pop-up store after another. The model enables retailers to take advantage of the best retail activity without having to deal with bad days and slow periods. In addition, the novelty makes advertising easier. The ephemeral aspect of the store also encourages consumers to buy and promotes impulse purchases because “it’s now or never”.
As is the case with permanent businesses, a business plan is required to open a pop-up store to define the project, objectives, needs, sources of financing, etc.
DEFINING THE PROJECT
Here is a list of items to include in your business plan:
- What is the purpose of the pop-up store?
- What is the concept?
- Who is the target audience?
- What are its needs?
- Where is it and how to get there?
- What products will be sold?
- What is the budget?
- What is the financial goal? Is the goal to make money or is it a marketing investment?
- Why should people visit the pop-up store? What will convince people to come?
CHOOSING THE LOCATION
You’ll have to decide on the following based on the objectives above:
- The duration of the pop-up store (3 days, 1 month, several months, etc.)
- The location(brussels is a very useful indicator when selecting a location)
- The type of space(shop, workshop, corner, etc.)
- The layout
- The occupancy agreement
Commercial leases must be agreed for a period of 9 years.
However, it’s possible to rent on a temporary basis when justified by exceptional circumstances and when the rental really is temporary.
It’s safer to have a temporary, short-term lease agreement between the tenant and the lessor.
There are currently no laws governing this type of agreement. It can be based on the following:
- The purpose of the agreement
- The start and duration of the occupancy
- The occupancy fee
- The personal nature of the agreement
- The parties’ obligations
- Layout and changes
- An inventory of the premises
There is always a risk that the agreement will be re-categorised as a commercial lease agreement if one of the parties submits a request to a judge. That’s why it’s important to consult with a legal expert to review the agreement.
STUDY THE LEGAL FORMS AVAILABLE
You’ll have to choose a legal form for the company before starting. There are several options available depending on the purpose of the business, its size, the situation of the founder, the revenue forecast, etc.
COMPLYING WITH THE LAW
The same rules apply as for a permanent business, even when tenancy is short term.
- City planning: before signing an occupancy agreement, it’s essential that you check with the municipality if the business can be operated in the premises selectedand check the current zoning of the premises. You may have to request a zoning change. In addition, a city planning permit will be required if changes are made to the building, to install a sign, or for the use of public space, for example.
- The environment: some activities will require an environmental permit.They must be requested from Bruxelles Environnement.
- SIAMU: you will require approval from the fire departmentto open a pop-up store. This will include a visit of the premises by the fire department.
- The municipality: the municipal authorities and the police must give their approval before the business opens. A file must be prepared and requirements can vary slightly from one municipality to the next.
- Insurance: depending on the business, some insurance policies are mandatoryand others are highly recommended. Ask your broker for guidance.
- AFSCA: a declaration or a request for authorisationis required to sell, serve or prepare food.
- SABAM and fair remuneration: authorisation is required whenever music is played in public. A single declarationcan be submitted online.
- Waste management: it's mandatory to subscribe to a waste management contractwith a collection company
Layout is essential to a retail business for a number of reasons. It’s even more important for a pop-up store. The pop-up store has to provide a unique buying experience. Its temporary nature implies creativity and common sense in terms of layout and furniture design. Its ephemeral nature means that it's possible to create a more unusual store which can changed for each new location to surprise customers. It enables more flexibility.
Marketing is one of the secrets to a successful pop-up store!
A pop-up store has a limited amount of time to make itself known to the public.
It’s essential to prepare a marketing plan and to start a campaign before the pop-up store is opened to make the most of the occupancy period.
Planning events spread over the entire duration of the pop-up store will create an active dynamic and will draw potential customers to each event.
The events can be workshops, product presentations, conferences, meetings, tastings, or other activities depending on the pop-up. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that the purpose of the pop-up store and the events are in sync.
Your plan is ready, but you don’t know where to find premises?
Several websites list spaces for rent:
- entrakt(sometimes larger than stores);
- urban retail;
- Inventimmo, is a website with adverts for commercial space. You can also try to sign a temporary occupancy agreement with the lessor before signing a commercial lease. It’s a matter of negotiating.
In addition to these platforms, some coworking centres also offer commercial space for short-term rentals, e.g. Creative District.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS
hub.brussels’ retail unit lets future retailers test their concept in its two pop-up stores:
- L’Auberge Espagnole
Ready to open your pop-up store? Help is available to get started. Contact 1819!
Cécile Geeroms tested several ephemeral points of sale for her second-hand clothing shop Déjà Vu. She shares her experience with us.
She found that gradually testing her concept without having to immediately commit to a permanent business was the best way to move forward.
Cécile started by taking part in temporary sales lasting a few days. Next, she was selected to take part in hub.brussels’ pop-up store L’Auberge Espagnole for three months. She is currently located in the city centre for a longer, but still temporary, period of time.
The pop-up store concept has enabled her to start up her business gradually. On the one hand, the experience has enabled her to live the reality of retail business on a daily basis and, on the other, to test several different locations. She became aware of the importance of choosing the right location for her business and of the differences between neighbourhoods and, especially, of the impact that the differences could have on her business. Purchasing power isn’t always found where it’s expected to be. The same can be said about which products will be more or less successful depending on the location: product positioning has to be adjusted.
Cécile benefited from the help of the business cooperative JobYourselfto set up her business. She was able to manage her business independently without being subject to self-employment obligations.
Cécile told us that maintaining a daily record (numbers and quantities) was very helpful when comparing different locations, as was maintaining a bird’s-eye view of the business.
These experiences helped her move forward, asking herself the right questions!