Pop-up stores in Singapore – The new cool kids in town!

June 12, 2015 / By  

Pop-up stores are the new IN thing in retail. They emerged in Singapore in late 2012, but only became popular last year. So, what exactly is a pop-up store? It is, essentially, a temporary retail space at a designated venue that sells all sorts of merchandise. The duration varies from a few days to over a year. The typical businesses that utilise pop-up stores are in the food and beverage (F&B), design and fashion industries (see table below for examples).

Blog table_12 Jun 2015

The ones who benefit the most from this concept are small local businesses, as they benefit from exposure to a larger market without having to commit to the comparatively more expensive leases at shopping centres. Even more established brands, such as BooksActually and Supermama, have pop-up stores to heighten brand awareness and attract new customers. For example, BooksActually, which is typically patronised by a younger crowd at their flagship store in Tiong Bahru, managed to draw in the office and expatriate consumers at Millenia Walk during its six-month stint there. The excitement generated by such pop-up stores attracts not only consumers, but also the print and social media, which in turn help drum up publicity for the brand.

For many online businesses, such pop-up stores are complementary as they give their consumers a chance to sample the products before purchasing. In doing so, consumers better understand the merchandise, especially pre-packed F&B products such as nut butters, jams and granola. These pop-up stores also offer an advantage of a collection point for online purchases.

The concept of a pop-up store is very attractive because it offers a win-win situation for both landlords and business owners. According to a Straits Times article in January 2015, “businesses enjoy preferential rental rates and are not locked into multiple-year leases”. As for landlords, they get to utilise the vacant space and at the same time attract new target markets in the form of the brands’ loyal supporters. In the case of Millenia Walk, the landlord took the opportunity to nurture new and creative enterprises and entrepreneurs by offering short-term leases while the mall was undergoing some physical enhancements.

While pop-up stores are meant to be temporary, some are eventually converted into long-term retailers. Naiise, an online design retailer that stocks interesting products from Singapore and globally, had several pop-up stores before launching its first physical store at Westgate Mall.

With its growing popularity, this concept looks like it is here to stay. Moving forward, to encourage the growth of local entrepreneurs, it could be extremely helpful if landlords introduced flexible lease structures to accommodate such transient retailers, taking a leaf from Millenia Walk’s experience. Advertising and marketing support could also go a long way in helping to raise brand awareness for business owners and in turn, benefit the landlord with increased footfall to the mall.


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