(Source: www.forbes.com)

Credit: Appear Here

Appear Here rents out small storefronts for very short leases, making it easier for brands to get in front of new customers with pop-up shops. The Airbnb-like platform offers thousands of listings in London, Paris and New York, most of which can be rented for as little as a few days. 

The idea came to founder Ross Bailey in 2012, when he and a friend opened a small, temporary store to sell T-shirts in London. The designers he brought in all had strong internet followings, but told him “they’d made more money and sold more product in this one little tiny shop in one week than they’d sold online in a year.”

So Bailey started working on Appear Here. The “Airbnb for retail” platform launched in 2013 and has since attracted over 80,000 brands. Though its roster has included Google, LVMH and Supreme, over 80% of its tenants have been small businesses. Here, Bailey shares (edited and condensed) advice for small businesses looking to expand to a brick and mortar location.

Start Small

“You can sit so long, thinking about how it’s all going to work out and over-analyzing every part of the business and not really understanding … Do people really want the product? What do they think of it? What’s their feedback?

So, what I’d say is just as soon as someone’s got the idea, as soon as they’ve gone out and made something, book a little store and try it. See what people say. Are people interested in it? What’s their feedback? What do they like about it? Why aren’t they so sure? And I think what’s amazing is once you take that first step and just do it, that the energy and the momentum starts, and that leads you to doing all the other things so much faster.”

Own Your Authenticity

“So when you think about a large brand, they have to try to be authentic and create authenticity, and there’s so many and they’re so big that it doesn’t always feel real. It’s exciting to find someone independent, to have the experience of walking into a space and just talking to the person that actually makes that product and they’re telling you why they make it and what they’re doing and what excites them. That’s not something you can get from those bigger brands. Some small stores overthink it, and don’t realize just being small and authentic is exciting to customers.”

Stores as Stories

“A lot of people are using their store as a form of communication, as a way of telling their brand’s story and trying to see if it resonates with people, and making sure they realize what they stand for and not just that they make pretty T-shirts, or whatever it might be.

Use simple touches to communicate your story throughout. What we see a lot is that when you walk in, someone’s got their mission statement or something about the collection written on the walls. I saw someone the other day who has written personal little stories on each product on a tag that describes why they had created that item. They’re saying ‘This is who we are, this is what we stand for, and this is why we do what we do.’ And I think people care about that more than ever before.”

Think About Who’s Behind The Counter

“Get amazing people in your store to represent you. People still want to go into stores and have an amazing day out. They want to be able to have face-to-face connection. People are craving experiences, and little moments, and interaction. And you as a brand have that opportunity to build a relationship.”

Make It A Marketing Channel

“Everyone is very aware that this isn’t just about selling products. This is about getting in front of people, and about those people, getting your product in front of others, so it’s all about the sharing what you’ve done, sharing that experience. So try to create an environment and little moments where people are going to take our their phone, take a picture, and say, ‘Wow, that’s incredible,’ and want to share it with their friends.”

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If all this sounds easy to you, consider entering Appear Here’s Space for Ideas competition. Winners — selected by Bailey and Neil Blumenthal (Warby Parker), Natalie Massenet (Net-a-Porter), Nick Jones (Soho House) and Ajaz Ahmed (AKQA) — will receive Appear Here retail space, $4000 in cash and mentorship from industry experts.

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More Info: www.forbes.com

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