Boarded up shops don’t necessarily mean retailing is in decline, it just means it’s changing. The time poor consumer is now looking for an alternative offer.
In the old model of retailing, the consumer came to the retailer. But these days, a time poor consumer does not necessarily have the time to drive to the store, park the car, walk in to the store and bring the items back to their car. In 2013, the retailer has to go to the consumer and provide them with a convenience offer.
The retailer can do this in many ways. The most popular method has been online retailing, which has seen significant growth in recent years and continues to develop. The challenge with this style of retailing is the consumer becomes more price aware, as they have no other aspects of the store to build into their retail picture.
The other growth area is pop up retailing. Pop up retailing, also known as flash retailing, is a trend of opening short-term sales spaces. This is a form where the retailer can combine convenience with the experience.
The aim of this form of retailing is to pop up when and where the consumer either wants you, or, to ambush them and pop up when they least expect it.
Pop up when and where the consumer wants you
Street food retailers realise they need to pop up at lunchtime, or in the city in the evening, if they are to generate sales. Florists often pop up at railway stations during the rush hour, especially of an evening. Farmers markets pop up towards the weekend to allow consumers to get their weekly fruit and vegetables from local growers – these have been standard retail practices for many years.
It is the entrepreneurs who really make a difference. I was recently walking around in Dublin, Ireland, and discovered a waste piece of land in the city centre that will be built on in the near future. In the meantime, it has been converted by a local group of volunteers into a pop up public park.
This is no ordinary park, however. It has been developed with materials the local residents could pick up for free in the neighbourhood. On my visit it was crowded, the volunteers had built a pallet arena that was being organised for an evening music concert, the local book seller had set up a bookshop in the park and a coffee shop had constructed a coffee stall.
All the participants were engaging with the local community by creating pop up retailing that could be dismantled in a matter of hours. They popped up where their local consumers were relaxing.
For some of us, we need to pop up seasonally. A local garden centre that owns their market needs to pop up in a neighbourhood for a few weeks in spring. This means in the busy spring period they may have a number of pop up stores that supply the “must have” products and then use this as an opportunity to drive consumers to the main store.
Pop up when and where consumers least expect it
The other style of pop up retailing is to pop up in an unexpected place where your target audience congregates when not dealing with your business. I have seen this work where a garden centre has set up a pop up space in a shopping mall in spring. The local consumers did not expect this and, as a result, the garden centre attracted new customers who did not know it existed before they walked in the centre.
Traditional thinkers may find it difficult to grow their business, but those who think outside the box are regularly developing new forms of business.