Pop up retail spaces allow small businesses to own physical storefronts. But how effective is it?
Over the weekend, we ventured to POP by Jaya One, a retail space which covers 16,800sq in Malaysia’s first lifestyle enrichment mall, The School. Similar to Dover Street Market in London and Brightspot Market in Jakarta, the space allows vendors to create their ideal, custom stores, which span from 70sq – 1000 sq. for a day, a week or a month, depending on budget.
Picking the right business setup is crucial for your shop. So, we pose the question: Which is a more effective, pop up retail spaces or m-commerce platforms? We weigh up the pros and cons.
Pop Up Stores
– It introduces commitment free leasing. Retail spaces are not cheap in KL. A quick browse through PropWall.my tells me that rental in Bangsar ranges from RM3,500 for upper level shops to RM15,000-20,000 for ground floor lots. For new businesses, often managed by one or two people, shelling out such extortionate prices for rent is just unfeasible.
– Allows for customization. More than just a space, vendors are allowed to design their own lots as they see fit. With so many shops selling the same thing, how you convey you brand’s overall aesthetic and story is crucial in differentiating your business from the pack.
– Allows anyone to test out the market. Some customers prefer to touch and feel the product. By setting up a physical store, you build consumer trust and confidence in your products. For some business, this works better, but for others, this may not be key to their business. It really depends.
Mobile Commerce Platforms
– It is totally free. No overheads.
– Allows for interaction between buyer and seller. Yes, these pop up spaces often provide a host of other services such as dressing rooms, a centralized paying system and staff. But what do they know about your brand? How well do they know your inventory? M-commerce platforms allow for that direct and instant interaction with potential customers.
– It is temporary. What if they need to return an item?
M-commerce platforms can be accessed from anywhere. Location is key for pop up stores. If it is badly located in area with no foot traffic, this could be a waste of your time and money. As long as you have a smartphone with an internet connection, you can access your customer database and storefront.
With so many businesses of the same nature popping up, it is a competitive market out there. Malaysian consumers are fickle, often spoilt for choice. It is key to catch them when you can. While pop up stores may yield many benefits such as exposure and affordable rental, they are often managed by hires who possess little knowledge of your brand. There is a good chance it may get lost in translation. With smartphone penetration in Malaysia at an all time high, we believe it is more cost effective to operate on mobile platforms, particularly for small businesses who can’t really afford rental fees.