It is now a month or so since the sad news that Sook, the one-stop pop-up shop provider, announced it was closing. And whilst there have been many new players and initiatives in the pop-up market over recent times, from traditional property agents looking at flexible and short-term leases through to markets and trader communities taking over and regenerating public spaces, for the younger entrepreneurs in the product and retailing world Sook captured their imagination with its fresh perspective.
It appealed because it made physical retailing affordable and easy for those who really wanted to focus their time and skill-set on their assortment and their branding but recognised the importance of physical spaces. To many of the students and young brands I come across it simply represents accessibility to a physical world that was formerly expensive, complicated, high in risk, high in capital investment, and as a result totally unrealistic and unobtainable.
Any new artisan, product creative, service provider, or fledgling retail entrepreneur, naturally considers the digital world as their first step into the customer marketplace. It is one of the most extraordinary positives of the internet age. The combination of digital commerce and digital marketing, allows cost-effective and potentially high profile, transactional selling.
It is true that it has never been easier to be a retailer.
However, the commercial reality and experience of digital retailers of every size and origin is that a presence in the physical world is essential for visibility, brand building, customer trust & loyalty and ultimately sales and profit. When the funding tap for SEO marketing and paid advertising runs dry then the virtual world can easily become a lonely void.
So, whilst it has never been as easy to be a retailer, it has probably never been as difficult to be a successful one.
Despite being born and nurtured as digital natives, students totally get physical shopping and experiences. Not only do they see physical retail spaces as a commercial necessity, but they see them as exciting and inspirational places. Their shops are full of the enthusiasm, the energy and the passion of their founders and entrepreneurial creators, as much as the excitement and clamour of their customers.
How many traditional retail chains can claim that? How many head office staff are excited enough by their shops that they even make the effort to visit? How many customers are still attracted by these hollow buildings and experiences?
Sook and their counterparts have made this exciting physical world attainable and accessible. They have broken the mould, re-invented the model, and have begun to break apart the traditional stranglehold of traditional landlords and big investment businesses.
The commercial ambitions of entrepreneurs and new brand founders has been broadened, enhanced, and enriched, by the new perspectives and possibilities that an omnichannel world can now offer.
What could be more natural for digital natives than digital retailing. But what could be more exciting and liberating than to build pop-up shops of every shape and size, to fill them full of fun and experience, and to go out into the physical world and meet your customers?
What could be more exciting than an omnichannel future, accessible to everyone?
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