Pop up retail shops can be a way for brands and retailers, both big and small, to gain significant exposure, boost sales, and create unique customer experiences. Which is why San Francisco-based startup Storefront is looking to provide a platform that allows brokers and property owners to list their retail space, connecting them with brands or small retailers who are looking for short-term rentals anywhere from three days to three months. Since launching in September 2012, Storefront has seen more than one million square feet of space listed and hundreds of request from brands.
With a handful of startups like Shopigram, Shopcaster, and Shopify giving brick-and-mortar retailers an avenue to build their own online ecommerce stores, Storefront does the exact opposite in giving ecommerce companies a way to build an offline presence. In doing so, they have the potential to reach demographics that may still not feel entirely comfortable doing all their shopping online just yet, not to mention build brand awareness so they can be top of mind when shoppers do look for more boutique online retailers.
“We see a lot of ecommerce companies, traditional ecommerce brands that have done pop ups, [online retailers like the] Everlanes of the world, Indochino, brands like that, to individual designers as well as a few larger brands that have reached out to us for space as well,” said co-founder and CEO Erik Eliason in an interview with BetaKit. “They’re more of the traditional retailers that want to do brand experience and brand activation in certain markets, so we’ve seen that as well. So it’s been across the board.”
With listings spanning the San Francisco and New York areas the company’s main value proposition for brands and retailers looking for short-term rentals is the ease of search and the curation of the spaces on the website. In contrast to what they might find of sites like Craigslist that may require additional investment for renovations, Storefront ensures that its listings are in high-traffic areas and are up to retail standards. For property brokers on the other hand, Eliason said the site can save them a lot of the administrative hassle and legwork, taking a process that would take them perhaps 10 hours to process a lease to an hour.
“We try to curate spaces that are high quality and pretty much turnkey, some of the places listed on Craigslist for pop up shops, you know, they might require tenant improvement, they might not have finished walls or finished ceilings,” Eliason added. “Our spaces are finished, high quality spaces in shopping neighborhoods, you can pretty much book it like anything else you book online.”
Although brands and retailers can alternatively reach out to individual brokers, the issue they most frequently run into is the fact that many of them have little interest in signing leases for such a short-term. Storefront on the other has signed agreements and partnerships with malls and brokers that have spaces they can rent out, and in addition is getting inbound requests to list rental spaces, ultimately saving those looking for space significant time and potentially money in the process.
Storefront will look to expand its reach to other major cities in the U.S sometime this year, and will aim to play a key part in helping brands cut through the online clutter by having a short-term physical presence, something that may or may not become a staple in their marketing efforts to gain exposure.