RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Here's everything you need to know about the "Airbnb of retail"

Storefront is a short-term retail space rental marketplace.

Storefront is an online marketplace that simplifies the complex search and rental process for retailers and e-tailers interested in renting a space for a short-term. It has also been described as the Airbnb of retail.

“Thanks to Storefront, finding a space to host a pop-up store is as easy as booking a hotel room,” says Benoît Clément-Bollée, the CEO and Co-founder of Storefront Asia.

Storefront is the result of the merger between PopUp Immo and Storefront. In 2014, Mohamed Haouache and Adrien Kerbrat created the first French platform dedicated to short-term retail spaces rental in Paris: PopUp Immo. It rapidly became the French leader and opened new offices in Europe and Hong Kong under the name OuiOpen with the reinforcement of the founding team with Clément-Bollée and Matthew Greenwell.

In the meantime, Storefront, created by Erik Eliason and Tristan Pollock in 2012, had imposed itself as the American leader of temporary retail space rental. Both companies were seeking international expansion, so, in 2016 Storefront and PopUp Immo decided to join forces to become the world’s largest short-term retail space rental marketplace.

Storefront is the first and largest international short-term retail space rental marketplace, shares Clément-Bollée. They are present in 3 continents and 8 cities: Hong Kong, New York, London, Paris, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Milan and San Francisco, and their network of spaces has more than 20,000 listings.

“We make retail simple and help brands grow,” says Benoît Clément-Bollée. “With pop-up stores sales are multiplied by 3.6, the set up time of the store is 5 times shorter and in average it costs HK$20,000 to set up a pop-up shop with Storefront compared to HK$980,000 to set up a traditional retail store.”

“Pop-up stores have so many potential uses that they answer a lot of retailers and e-tailers problems,” he says. “Whether they want to launch a product, test several locations before committing to a long-term lease, sell exclusive products, or enhance brand recognition, pop-up stores are the solution.” For instance, he says, for fashion designers who open pop-up stores during Fashion Week, these will be tremendous growth levers.

Storefront in Hong Kong was actually launched when Clément-Bollée contacted Haouache because he saw a news item about Storefront’s participation in a Tokyo startup competition and told him that he wanted to start a similar business in Hong Kong.

The management team had already thought about of launching in Hong Kong but this made it more concrete than ever. So just 2 days later, Clément-Bollée was hired to start Storefront in Hong Kong, making Storefront the first international pop-up marketplace setting foot in Asia.

“We are already settled in 8 cities around the world and we’re not going to stop there,” he says. “Next stops are Berlin, Miami, Chicago, Macau, Tokyo, China and Singapore, of course.”

One of Storefront’s priorities is also to invest in technology, in order to have a smarter company that facilitates the life of our customers, but also of their employees, for them to be more efficient in their everyday tasks.

“And of course, our ultimate goal is to design the store of the future and create a retail revolution,” shares Clément-Bollée.

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