Technology-focused real estate investment firm Fifth Wall Ventures has invested in Appear Here, a start-up with an online marketplace offering rental and pop-up spaces for retailers and product brands, according to a Fifth Wall blog post.
Appear Here is based in London, and has found space for more than 4,000 retail shops in London and Paris. The company entered the New York City real estate market last spring, offering space in the Nolita, Soho, West Village, Chelsea and Williamsburg neighborhoods.
More than 100,000 brands have signed up to use Appear Here’s platform since the company was founded four years ago, with notable brands such as Apple, Spotify, Nike, Givenchy, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter and others. It has also listed available space for pop-up concessions inside the stores of retailers such as U.K.-based Topshop.
Many recent studies have pointed out the enduring value of brick-and-mortar stores and the simple fact that they still play host to most of the buying activity in retail. Even as e-commerce companies thank the stars that they aren’t burdened with the costs associated with brick-and-mortar locations and the staff needed to tend them, there remains significant value in dealing with customers face to face.
Appear Here is tapping into a clearly growing trend in the retail sector, with many pure-play e-commerce companies (not just Amazon, but the likes of Monica + Andy, Bonobos and Warby Parker as well) now looking to build up customer relationships by opening brick-and-mortar stores.
Even when these companies don’t want to commit to long-term physical shops, checking into a physical space for a couple of weeks or days can help them promote product launches or capture more traffic around specific events. That’s where pop-up shops play an important role.
The amount of the investment was not revealed, but the blog post stated that it should help A ppear Here expand the supply of available space on its marketplace. The post also alludes to plans Appear Here has for further expansion in the U.S. The company recently ran a contest to help start-ups get a couple weeks of pop-space in a busy shopping neighborhood, which itself is a good way of further promoting the pop-up concept.
Appear Here boasts the ability to help brands find space, connect with landlords, and book their usable spaces all within six days, rather than what it referred to as "the industry standard of 60 days." Its U.S. expansion may help reveal which e-commerce players and brands are ready to try their hand at the brick-and-mortar strategy.