Inside local fragrance brand Six’s new store, you would be forgiven for thinking you should take your shoes off. The boutique in the basement of 313@Somerset is styled so cosily, it almost feels like a home.
Art installations fill the space, and a marble table out front looks perfect for hosting dinner parties but is really where the brand conducts
Founder Jason Lee, 36, spent about $150,000 on renovations to fashion a store that would soothe customers and make them think of filling their own homes with the same scents.
Three floors above, fast-fashion footwear brand Sunday Staples is set to open its third store next week with the same comfort aesthetic. Plush booths to try on shoes comfortably and curved lines all around evoke a cafe-like feel. “It’s on trend,” says co-founder Maurice Bay, 33. “The motivation is to create a more comfortable, alluring setting where you’re drawn to something you can relate to.”
Instead of ramping up e-commerce, some brands are bucking the trend and opening new stores and longer-term pop-ups (with a minimum six-month lease). They are also going all out on decor, opting for stylish, homey interiors that could make the pages of interior design magazines.
Even non-permanent stores are getting the comfy retail treatment.
Founder of local womenswear label Klarra, Beatrice Tan, 32, chose a pleasing palette of wood and white for her new pop-up, which opened at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands last month and will last till June.
She spent about $50,000 furnishing the space. Some friends and customers thought the store was permanent.
“A permanent store is the way to go for exposure and brand awareness, but because of Covid-19, I wasn’t sure about committing to a long-term lease, which is usually three years at least,” says Tan, who has a boutique at Raffles City that opened in end-2018.
She was on the hunt for leases that were at least six months long, having done a three-month pop-up at Capitol Piazza in 2017.
“Three months is too short, given the renovations. People used to think pop-ups are very makeshift, like a little booth, but nowadays (the concept has)
evolved. There is a permanent store feel and malls expect you to put in more work and insert a bit of store branding,” she says.
Such longer-term pop-ups have been on the rise in recent years. Retail experts say they may serve as a kind of compromise solution, especially for new or emerging brands and retailers considering omnichannel marketing.
National University of Singapore Business School’s professor of marketing Leonard Lee says such pop-ups allow brands to build a physical identity or cultivate a pool of regular customers without having to commit to a long-term rental arrangement. The Straits Times understands that the usual
long-term lease agreement is for a minimum period of three years.
“Brands are hence able to stay agile in the rapidly evolving retail landscape. Some may also use it as a way to test the waters on a new retail concept or brand identity.”
The home-like atmosphere many brands are favouring can create a feeling of familiarity or a general sense of psychological comfort, adds Prof Lee, who foresees such pop-ups gaining ground as the pandemic situation eases.
“Prior research has suggested that such feelings can foster liking for the brand, which can, in turn, translate into greater sales.
“Depending on the type of products being sold, a home-like atmosphere can also make it easier for customers to imagine or visualise consuming the products in their own homes, which could further boost their willingness to
Observing that more malls have become receptive to longer-term pop-ups in the past year, Klarra’s Tan says they are a good way to test foot traffic and build brand awareness at a new location – without too heavy an investment.
The fact that customers like snapping pictures of the store to post on social media does not hurt either. She adds: “We started with e-commerce, so Instagram-friendly decor was a big consideration. The photos can attract people to come by.”