If anything demonstrates the enduring attraction of shopping in person, it’s the rise of the pop-up store.  Almost everywhere you go, if there’s an opportunity for a brand, retail chain or entrepreneur to reach new customers, a pop-up will have landed.  And, as big retail events like Black Friday and Christmas become increasingly popular, more pop-ups are arriving to add excitement to the retail scenery.  The excitement also spans far beyond the high street, with temporary and novel offerings, from food to fashion, popping up at concerts and music festivals across the country.

Whether it’s our most familiar retailers such as Tesco, which has opened pop-up outlets around the UK for its ‘Finest’ brand in the run-up to Christmas, or premium brands like Moet and Chandon, which recently opened a winter bar pop-up in London, they offer eye-catching opportunities to build useful sales spikes.

For consumers and retailers alike, this spontaneity is a big part of the attraction.  They meet a consumer need for new experiences and give retailers of all kinds the flexibility to engage with customers.  The huge diversity of pop-up stores is driven by a mixture of brand strategy, product specialisation and the sheer innovative creativity of retailers.  But something they all have in common is a need for connectivity – both directly to the internet, and a wider corporate network in the form of a wireless wide area network (WWAN).  Whether it’s a requirement as fundamental as processing payments or a way to enable cutting edge IoT applications, without it, the modern pop-up wouldn’t be practical.

But, for most pop-ups, waiting for a traditional wired connection to be installed doesn’t meet their needs.  It’s a process that can be too slow, too expensive or simply can’t happen because where their store is located means they are ‘off grid’.

Mobile-based network connectivity has provided the answer, with advancements in 4G LTE edge networking solutions and the arrival of 5G expanding the possibilities for a diverse array of new stores to pop-up.  And by implementing a connectivity strategy that focuses on cost, flexibility and control, retailers can not only ensure they are online when the first customer walks in, but they have a solution which is as versatile as the pop-up concept itself.  Here are three considerations from Cradlepoint to help retailers bring a successful pop-up online:

1. Cost-Effective Connectivity

Pop-up and temporary networks must be cost-effective to be justified.  IT staff need to be able to deploy, manage, and troubleshoot these networks remotely with as little impact on staff and finances as possible.  Data usage can also be a concern for organisations that choose a mobile service as their source of connectivity. Each location’s data needs may change from month to month, so a cost-effective solution must allow for real-time monitoring of data usage.  For example, organisations with multiple pop-ups should have a 4G LTE plan that allows for data pooling across the network to better utilise allotted data and prevent outages. 

2. Avoiding Hardware Headaches

In traditional networking environments, management and security functions are executed using expensive and feature-heavy IT hardware.  In contrast, the expense and logistical challenges associated with such hardware aren’t compatible with the streamlined execution of a pop-up or temporary deployment.  But solutions designed with pop-up retail in mind encompass all-in-one routing platforms, offer built-in redundancy, cloud management, an embedded LTE modem, and software-defined technologies that give retailers the technology infrastructure they need to make the most of these valuable sales opportunities.

3. Keeping in Constant Control

Allowing all network users, devices, data, and endpoints to reside together in the same network environment creates the potential for major security problems.  In the past, providing secure access among people, places, and things was achieved through complex network segmentation, access control lists, and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).  These methods worked well for a time, but today’s latency-sensitive applications — such as VoIP and video chat — do not function as well when all traffic must be routed over the VPN, to headquarters, and then to its destination.  There also is the inherent security vulnerability in the complexity of managing VPNs.

Today’s mobile-powered networking technologies, however, offer integrated Unified Threat Management (UTM) features that enable direct Internet access from the pop-up location without compromising security.

Enabling Technology 

Despite the opportunities presented by pop-up retail, many businesses will only invest when they have confidence that the infrastructure is available to support them.  The biggest point for retailers to remember is that technology is no longer a barrier to the development of a pop-up strategy – in the form of mobile networking, it’s a real enabler.  As pop-ups become a bigger selling point for many retailers, and more attractive to consumers, those who can perfect the process of getting their stores online will prosper.