Pinning down the exact economic impact of pop-up stores is challenging. The US Census Retail Trade reports don’t separate temporary stores, nor has the National Retail Foundation released any clear studies on the movement. What is clear is pop-ups continue to be a trendy option in the retail world. According to a 2014 study by Popup Republic, pop-up stores accounted for $50 billion dollars in retail sales. Now there’s a new version of the pop-up store poised to leave the competition in the dust: a mobile store with wheels. Instead of opening multiple pop-up stores in different locations, brands are experimenting with the retail equivalent of food trucks.
Key benefits to a mobile pop-up store
A mobile pop-up store mirrors some of the benefits inherent with any pop-up retail experience. Both are flexible, allow brands to test new markets or new products, and skip the need to negotiate a long-term lease. Each format still introduces new customers to the product while bringing existing online customers into a real-world experience.
What makes the mobile boutique different starts with the novelty of the concept. The store format is new enough to the general consumer that some are drawn inside curious about what a pop-up store touring on the back of a truck looks like.
Mobile pop-up stores offer some other benefits, too. It’s possible for a brand to experiment with multiple locations for less startup cost with a mobile truck. The only build-out expense is the truck renovation. Retailers skip lease negotiations for a temporary space and the expenses associated with building a temporary space several times. If a particular location is not performing well, pack up early and move on.
Associated costs with the mobile pop-up
Any retail location will have expenses associated with the experience. With a mobile pop-up store, the initial investment will be in purchasing a truck and conducting renovations to transform the space. There will be vehicle maintenance and upkeep costs. Brands need to budget for permit fees, vendor fees, and gasoline, costs that may not be associated with a physical pop-up store. Then there’s staffing. How will staffing work with a traveling mobile store? Plus, mobile stores need a driver.
Design challenges inspire creativity
Since this space is relatively new, for brands giving the mobile pop-up a go, the possibilities are limited only by the designer’s imagination. See the Top Shelf Boutique, a fashion truck in San Francisco, or the Box, a Birkenstock mobile store designed by Andreas Murkudis. The DIM mobile unit expands to 1,000 sqft of space. Holt Renfrew designed a mobile store reminiscent of a New York 5th Avenue window display.
Retailers interested in temporary space should weigh mobile retail as an option. Learn more about the mobile pop-up store trends from the American Mobile Retail Association.