From quick-to-build rotating popup shops to easy-to-use SaaS dashboards equipped with all the necessary parts for a physical store, innovative retailers and real estate owners are catering to brick-and-mortar's current ephemeral nature

The closing of legacy retailers and traditional mall anchor tenants has led to the creation of a new retail concept that not only provides a flexible and creative solution to rising vacancy rates, but also meets consumers’ growing needs for new experiences and desire to interact with their favorite brands IRL.

Retail service providers and landlords are offering brands, particularly emerging, digitally native ones, flexible, turnkey solutions for opening a physical retail space, creating a lower barrier to entry and allowing them to test and refine new concepts and products.

Commercial real estate company Macerich’s BrandBox is an end-to-end retail concept for web-based brands seeking a flexible brick-and-mortar space. The biggest mall owners in the U.S. dedicated an 11,000-square-foot space in their Tyson’s Corner shopping center, which houses a selection of brands that rotate every six months. Each brand is given a 500-2,500 square-foot space to create its own mini store made up of modular walls and storefronts that can move depending on how bands want to configure them. The dedicated spaces aim to help direct-to-consumer brands, as well as some heritage brands, design, staff and open stores, with the added technological capabilities to manage sales and footfall data.

Fourpost is a retail concept that makes physical retail accessible to direct-to-consumer brands through an easy to use SaaS dashboard equipped with all the pieces to running a physical shop. This includes things like account management, business training, event booking, billing, storefront data and analytics to see what’s working. Fourpost curates a collection of studio shops, eateries and events to bring together community with retail, the first of which are located in the Mall of America in Minnesota and The West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada.

Neighborhood Goods
Neighborhood Goods, a retail concept store in Plano, Texas, gives digitally native brands a way to engage with shoppers in the real world. Like a traditional department store, Neighborhood Goods is responsible for the staffing and design of the space, which is built with proprietary modular fixtures. Unlike traditional stores, however, the brands on display will regularly change every few months, giving visitors a reason to come back again. Neighborhood Goods’ lease agreement is much shorter than that of a traditional mall rental agreement, with departure terms that have been simplified, and the rent is a fixed monthly fee plus a percentage of sales, making it much easier for online brands to establish their first brick-and-mortar presence.

These are just a few examples of retailers and startups providing plug-and-play store infrastructure. For more inspiring examples and advice on how to deploy these strategies, download PSFK's Store Experience Design Debrief.