Storefont Co-Founders Discuss Retail Pop-Ups, Building Better Brand Relationships Offline [PSFK CONFERENCE SF]

Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock discuss how temporary spaces will ”disrupt” the retail arena by expanding on consumer touchpoints and allowing brands to become more creative with their in-store offerings.

We are excited to have the co-founders of Storefront, Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock, speak at the PSFK Retail Event in San Francisco on October 30th. Storefront is a platform to connect brands with real estate for temporary pop-up shops. At the conference, Erik and Tristan will share their thoughts on the resurgence of physical spaces for both online and offline brands and expanding retail experiences beyond traditional brick and mortar locations.

In just two years, Storefront has grown to offer over 1,000 pop-up retail spaces for a number of different kinds of brands. How have these temporary spaces changed the ways brands and retailers operate?

Pop-up shops are one form of temporary retail, which has realistically been around since the bazaars of the Middle East. Since the term ‘pop up’ has gained prominence it has brought the spotlight back on cities and how short-term, temporal events and stores add to the everchanging urban landscape. It’s an exciting time for retail, as well as for any growing business looking to create unique experiences in the cities where their customers are.

We now see brands opening up 2-week stores every month in a different city (Indochino), or examples like Kanye West opening up shop in a storefront while he goes on tour. Anything is possible now, and it’s easier than ever to do.

What challenges were retailers facing that inspired you to create Storefront?

Storefront was inspired by the creative people and businesses that are around us everyday. With major retailers like Target and Best Buy in Minnesota, we had the idea for Storefront after seeing an increasing amount of empty storefronts in our hometown. At that time, we also saw friends and family starting online businesses, but they faced a host of challenges when they transitioned into physical stores. 1 in 10 stores were sitting vacant across the United States, and we wanted to fill them with amazing experiences.

The hope is that Storefront can “disrupt” the retail real estate market in much the same way that Airbnb and other so-called sharing-economy start-ups have disrupted older industries. That was when we decided to start an online startup that connects store owners and landlords with retail spaces they wish to rent out for short terms with artists, brands and boutiques in need of temporary quarters.

Why is it important for brands to create these temporary offline experiences?

From fashion to technology, digital brands use Storefront to tell a story around their products. They build stronger relationships offline, and allow for a tactile customer experience. They also now have the flexibility to fluidly move around a city, or go from city to city, without signing a long-term, five or ten year lease.

As more brands adopt these pop-up experiences, what are your recommendations for best practices for creating offline retail experiences?

First know your customer, know your brand, and build what that looks like in the real world.

Second, make every day in your storefront engaging. Combatant Gentlemen opened up a three-day shop in LA and hosted whiskey tasting one night, and a cigar rolling class the next.

Lastly, do things you can’t do online. SK-II opened a month-long store and used their skin scanner to tell you the age of your skin and the product you could use to repair it. A laptop can’t do that.

Can you share your predictions for how the retail industry will evolve over the next five years?

Retail will be more tactile, temporary, and tech-savvy. We will see smart foot traffic monitoring, improved checkout systems, location-based engagement with beacons.

We will also see retailers test store concepts more, and more independent stores open. Long-term leases will still be used, but become less common. Consumers will desire on-demand retail where the stores pop up in their neighborhoods. Storefront will be helping businesses grow smarter in the physical world.

Thank you Tristan and Erik!

To hear more from Tristan and Erik as well as our line up of industry experts and highlights from the PSFK’s 2015 Future of Retail report, join us October 30th from 8:30 – 12:30 for our Future of Retail event at PCH’s Innovation Hub in San Francisco. Tickets are available online.