From retail pop-up to permanent location: How to transition with success

So, you’ve had a successful run with a retail pop-up shop and you think it might be time to open a permanent retail location. While brick and mortar stores have a lot of benefits, they also come with challenges—primarily more overhead, less flexibility, and a big operational learning curve

Many business owners don’t realize that it’s a huge shift and can struggle with everything from inventory and hiring, to making a profit in their first year. Let’s look at what you should ask yourself before making the leap, what you’ll need to get started, and how Homebase can help make it easier to manage your people.

What is a retail pop-up shop?

A retail pop-up shop is a retail storefront that’s deliberately temporary. It “pops up” for a fixed period of time and closes when the retailer has achieved their goal. pop-up locations can look just like regular stores but might offer a unique shopping experience, a special product launch, or may even move around to different locations.

Pop-up shops are often an appealing alternative to long leases and the huge overhead that comes with a permanent brick and mortar location. Plus, they can have many benefits for brands, especially small or emerging businesses.

The benefits of starting with a pop-up shop

  • Reach more customers. If you open a pop-up retail shop in a great location with lots of foot traffic, you can get your brand in front of a bigger audience. If you occasionally move locations, you can reach new customers as well.
  • Better understand your audience. Retail pop-ups provide you with an opportunity to run special promotions, host events or competitions, and interact with your target customers in person. The insight you gain from your pop-up can help guide future business decisions.
  • Boost an online operation. If your business lives online, retail pop-ups give your customers a chance to touch, feel, and experience your products in person. This can entice customers who may be on the edge about a purchase or help you reach people that don’t know your online store. A temporary storefront also creates a sense of urgency and can help drive sales or shift stock that’s been sitting for a while.
  • Launch a new product. What better way to make a splash? A pop-up event is a great way to create excitement about a new product and give your customers a special shopping experience. 
  • Try retail without the risk. If you’re an online operation, a retail pop-up is a low-risk way to test whether brick and mortar works for you. You’re not on the hook for a long, expensive lease or the big monthly overhead associated with a permanent location. If it doesn’t work out, you can end the experiment without hurting yourself as much financially.
  • Test a new location. Retail pop-ups are also a low-risk way to expand your footprint. Temporary locations allow you to test out new neighborhoods, cities, or street corners before making a bigger commitment. 

What is a fixed retail location?

A fixed retail location, or traditional brick and mortar store, is a street-side business where customers browse and make purchases in person. The business rents or owns the building where they operate. Generally, businesses open fixed retail locations with the intention of staying for a long period of time. 

Many kinds of businesses have successful fixed retail locations, but they’re best suited to “deep” products—items that require a lot of physical inspection for a customer to make an informed buying decision. Deep products can include expensive clothing, electronics, furniture, and more. Customers want to test-drive a new car, try on a pair of glasses, and see artwork in person. They’re less likely to buy a couch without sitting on it first. And they want to hear the sound quality of the speaker they’re considering, or smell perfume on their own body. 

Fixed locations tend to have higher overhead costs and less flexibility, so they’re not the right move for every business. But if you’re considering a brick and mortar shop, they also have some great benefits. Let’s look at why a fixed retail location might work for you.

Benefits of a fixed retail location

  • A more tactile experience. Customers can see, touch, try on, and experience your products in person. A recent consumer report found 33% of respondents prefer shopping at physical stores because they like to view, touch and interact with products, not just photos.
  • You may look more legitimate. Having a physical location can create a sense of legitimacy that you may not get from an online store. Because people can see the products first hand and talk to employees in person, they tend to have greater trust in brick and mortar shops. 
  • Build stronger customer relationships. While there are some incredible online support teams out there, it’s tough to beat interacting with and assisting customers face to face. Having a fixed retail location gives you more opportunities to build customer relationships.
  • You’re easier to find. Foot and road traffic make it easy for new customers to discover your business. It’s tougher for people to stumble across your business online.
  • You can communicate directly with customers. When you see and can talk to your customers in-person every day, it helps you stay in touch with their different wants and needs. This can help you adjust quickly so you’re keeping pace with your customer base.
Did you know? 61% of customers say they’re likely to spend more at a physical retail location and 46% of consumers say they prefer to shop in person rather than online.

From pop-up location to retail location: How do you know you’re ready?

Sure, the benefits sound great, but a retail location is a major commitment. Here are 4 questions to ask yourself before you make the jump to a permanent retail location.

1. Have you properly tested the market?

A pop-up shop is a great opportunity to learn about your business. What’s your temporary location telling you? Are you busy? Are sales as high as you’d like? What kind of customer feedback are you getting? Are you turning a profit at the end of the day? Proper evaluation of your pop-up’s performance will help you determine if a permanent location will be successful.

2. Do you have the right team behind you?

While you may be the visionary behind your business, you can’t open a retail location alone. If you can afford it, hire people that support your skillset and allow you to focus on the bigger picture. When you have the proper team in place you can tackle everything you need before opening with as little stress as possible. 

3. Will you be able to maintain inventory?

If you’re moving from an online shop and a pop-up location, the volume of inventory changes significantly when you open your own brick and mortar store. A bigger store means more inventory, and more inventory means you’ll need a smart management system in place. Did you know, Homebase integrates with a lot of smart POS systems? This can help you track inventory more easily. You’ll also know which products are selling well and if certain stock isn’t moving, so you can make informed ordering decisions.  

4. Do you have the right location to sustain your business?

A good location can make or break your shop when you’re transitioning from pop-up to permanent location. Was your pop-up location a success? Did it get a lot of foot traffic? Was it in a vibrant neighborhood? If you can find something in the same area as your successful pop-up, you’ve hit the jackpot! If there’s nothing available nearby, do your research, check out competitors, and make sure you’re moving to the right place at the right time.  

The key steps in going from pop-up to retail store

Okay. You think you’re ready to move from a pop-up shop to a permanent retail store. Before you hire employees and stock up on inventory, you should do a few critical things to ensure your shop is a success from day one.

Secure your financing

Permanent retail locations are typically more expensive to maintain than a retail pop-up, especially when you’re starting out. Calculate what you’ll need for your lease or purchase expenses, possible renovations, equipment or fixtures, inventory, and payroll. Make sure you have the funding to cover your costs for a relatively long period of time—it takes most small businesses two to three years to be truly profitable

Get to know the laws and regulations

Having a long-term lease, or owning a commercial property means you’ll need to be familiar with local laws, regulations, permits, restrictions, and licenses for businesses. You should also make sure you’re in compliance with the health and safety regulations and local labor laws that apply to your employees. Homebase can make compliance easier by helping you stay on top of local labor laws, especially breaks, time off, and overtime

Consider your layout

Your store layout and design can actually influence how long your customers stay and how much they buy. It should be eye-catching, appealing to your target customer base, in line with your brand identity, and provide an enjoyable experience for your customers. Easy, right? 

Before you open, you’ll need to consider product placement, signage, lighting, shelving, checkout areas, and the overall look and feel. Think about the best way for customers to experience and interact with your product, and work with design experts if needed. 

Promote your new location

You can start growing your customer base before your new location even opens. Develop a marketing strategy that leverages current customers and creates awareness about your new permanent store. 

A solid marketing strategy includes a mix of online and offline initiatives, like social media, local advertising, email marketing, and signage. There are lots of great free marketing tools out there to help get you started. It’s also best practice to introduce yourself to your new neighbors and see if there are any opportunities for cross promotion. Finally, plan and promote a grand opening event to get people excited. 

Consider a soft opening

Before your grand opening, consider a soft opening. What’s a soft opening? It’s a smaller event with a limited number of people where you can test run your operations and gather customer feedback. A soft opening can help you identify any issues, like being understaffed, before your official opening and allow for fine tuning before your full launch. 

Transitioning to a retail location: The final piece of the puzzle

You have the building, finances, design, and grand opening figured out. What’s missing? The people to make it all happen. Once you identify your staffing needs, you’ll need a way to hire, train, and schedule them effectively. You’ll also need to stay compliant while you’re doing it all. Don’t worry, Homebase has you covered.

Here’s how we can help you build, manage, and schedule your team—and keep them happy, too.

1. Retail store hiring

Attract the best employees with a solid hiring process. Whether you’re looking for full-time or part-time employees, using a tool that lets you manage the entire process will save time and make hiring a breeze. Homebase makes it easy to create an effective job posting and post it in as many places as possible. Once the applications start rolling in, you can manage all your potential hires in one place. Spend less time with paper and more time finding the right people.

It’s also important to remember your state and federal law requirements when you’re retail store hiring. Homebase helps you cover the bases so you don’t have to hire an entire human resources department.

2. Onboarding and training

A great onboarding and training program is essential for your business and your employees. If you’ve found a great team, set them up for success by offering a clear, informative onboarding process and training that will help them do their best. Your employees will feel more confident, experience higher morale, and your customers will get a better experience.

With onboarding software like Homebase, your new hires get a packet that consists of U.S. federal and state new hire forms required by law. They can fill out their information before their start date and hit the ground running, and you can be confident that you’re setting them up for success.

When it comes to training, establish what your employees need to know and what they should be able to do autonomously by the end of their first day, week, and month. Studies show the best way for employees to learn is by doing, so have them do some shadow shifts if possible. Homebase makes it easy to check your schedule, communicate with your team, and see who’s available to help with training. 

3. Scheduling software to schedule your employees

With your team in place, you should learn about scheduling employees effectively. Start by creating schedules early and giving your employees plenty of notice. This makes it easier to plan their lives outside of work and can even help boost morale. Scheduling software from Homebase cuts the time it takes to create a schedule in half, so you can avoid last-minute shift assignments.

Once your schedule is in place, it should be easy to publish, share, and adjust in real time. With Homebase, you can do it all in just a few clicks. If you plan on allowing shift swapping, we can help with this too. With our scheduling software, your employees can send a message to their colleagues to see who’s available to swap shifts. They don’t need to exchange personal contact information, or worry about emails going unseen. You can view and approve swaps in real time, and adjust your schedule accordingly.

4. Team communication

Trust and transparency make for happy teams, and it all starts with open communication. Our team communication app makes it easy for everyone to stay in sync. Employees can ask questions, celebrate milestones, give thank yous and shoutouts, and even share instructions, policy changes, and other important updates. They can choose to communicate with the entire team, a smaller group, or an individual coworker. Employees also get helpful reminders for upcoming shifts, and can easily ask to swap or pick up some extra hours.

Great employee communication also builds teamwork. Our app makes it easy to introduce new hires to the whole team, collect feedback and keep tabs on how your employees are feeling, and congratulate team members on a job well done. And when you’re not holding all the payroll, scheduling, and team info alone, your employees are more likely to feel a sense of ownership in your business. 

Whether a retail pop-up or a permanent location is the right thing for you, Homebase is here to help make it a success. Get support for everything from hiring and onboarding to scheduling employees, plus everything in between. Get started for free.

Retail pop-up FAQS 

What is a retail pop-up?

A retail pop-up shop is a temporary retail space that’s open for a limited period of time, ranging from a few days to a few months. pop-up shops may be set up in vacant storefronts, event spaces, or other non-traditional retail locations. They’re designed to create a sense of urgency and excitement, or attract a new stream of customers. A business might set up a retail pop-up to test a new market, launch a new product, promote a special collection, or create brand awareness.

What’s the difference between a pop-up shop and a permanent retail location?

A pop-up shop is a temporary retail store. It “pops up” for a set period of time and closes when the retailer has accomplished its goal. They’re a flexible, lower cost way for a business to experiment with a physical retail space.

A permanent retail location, also known as a brick-and-mortar store, is a permanent physical establishment where customers can browse, purchase, and interact with products in person. These traditional retail locations can be found in commercial buildings or storefronts. Brick-and-mortar stores are designed to be a stable, long-term presence in a set location.

What is the biggest struggle when switching to a retail location?

The biggest struggle when switching to a retail location is typically with the shift in operational requirements and the unique demands of running a brick-and-mortar store. Businesses may face challenges with increased costs, inventory management, hiring and training, building a new customer base, and other issues specific to physical retail. 

Businesses can minimize this struggle with careful planning and lots of research. Seeking professional advice, learning from existing businesses, finding a mentor, and using tools designed for small businesses can also help.. 

Do I need a retail employee scheduling software for my store?

Yes, we recommend retail employee scheduling software. Scheduling can be tough, even for experienced managers and scheduling software can be a huge help. Homebase scheduling can cut the time it takes to create your schedule in half, makes it simple to share and adjust, and allows employees to swap shifts with ease. You have enough to worry about with a new store, so it’s smart to automate wherever possible and use the tools available to you.

How do I know how many employees to hire for retail? 

Figuring out how many employees you need depends on a number of factors, including the size of your store, your operating hours, the expected number of customers, and your desired level of customer service. For example, a larger store with a wide range of products and services may require more employees than a smaller shop with fewer products. Or if you want to provide an extremely high level of customer service, you may choose to employ more sales associates.

You should also identify the roles required to run your store efficiently. A typical retail location will need sales associates, cashiers, stockroom staff, supervisors, and managers.

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