Williams Scotsman

Guide to Leveraging Modular Space in Retail

The retail industry comprises much more than the shops in the mall or the storefronts that line most city blocks. It is massively diverse – in the products that are sold, the scope of operations and the location where its participants sell their goods. Whatever your role is in the world of retail, you should understand how temporary modular space can help you succeed. 

Modular space serves a wide variety of important needs. When retailers are in permanent buildings and undergoing construction or renovation, it is the perfect swing space, a fast and easy solution to keep business going. It’s also used to store valuable equipment and supplies, or even as a pop-up storefront.

Here are just a few ways modular space has been used to support the retail industry:

Swing Space

There’s no great time to have to undergo renovations when your business’s success is tied to the foot traffic that comes through your doors. Retailers of just about any size can’t afford to shut down the shop when their store gets worn down, is damaged by a natural disaster or is in need of expansion. 

Modular units – customizable and diverse – will help you more than stay afloat as you rehab your retail space. Whether it’s a stand-alone space the size of a single-wide office or dozens of them seamlessly adjoined to create a massive showroom, modular is flexible.

And swing space is a business saver when the unexpected happens. For example, a pre-dawn fire leveled the clubhouse at Ardsley Country Club in New York on a cold December morning. Our Flex™ product came to the rescue, re-establishing a retail pro shop, golf bag storage area and changing room for club members. 

Vandalism to community businesses can also cause serious disruptions in service and support. When a Rite-Aid was destroyed during civil unrest in Baltimore, WillScot mobile offices were delivered within days of the incident to ensure customers weren’t deprived of vital health products and other small necessities.    


Whether you need storage space for clothing, sports equipment or excess inventory, modular units provide a secure, weather-resistant solution. We lease a wide-ranging inventory of 20ʹ and 40ʹ steel storage containers that arrive clean and Ready to Work immediately – and we can usually fill orders within 48 hours. Inventory may ebb and flow, but our units keep up with the pace of any retailer’s needs. 

When considering modular storage space for your particular usage, it’s important to consider how exactly you plan to use your space. For example, seasonal retailers may need storage containers for long periods of time, whereas year-round retailers, perhaps with less stored inventory, may instead be focused on how accessible storage space should be.

Pop-up storefront

Modular units can be custom built to accommodate just about any inventory, whether for a seasonal need such as a holiday market or temporary events such as major sports championships, music festivals and trade shows. Have a limited footprint? WillScot’s Flex units – with fully customizable panels – are also stackable, making them a perfect fit for you if fit is your No. 1 concern. Units can also be wired for digital accessibility and accessorized to include office space.

Retailers use shipping containers for dozens of different industries, with many taking advantage of the industrial feel of the space. Along the New Jersey shore, modular units pop up as summer retail operations, such as the boardwalk boutiques that leased our Flex for a season in Belmar, New Jersey. Because it is stackable, the Flex product can also serve dual purposes at sporting or entertainment events; a company can have its hospitality suite on the top level and a shop on the lower level offering their products or souvenirs. 

Retail giant Urban Outfitters took their “store on tour” (below) to create a fully mobile shopping experience. From selling flowers to clothing to art, these containers have been modified to effectively serve retailing needs. Modular units have even been transformed into malls across the globe, like this one in South Africa.

Modular units have a range of uses that stretch outside of traditional applications. Their unique flexibility and customization options are perfect for the creative, ever-changing needs of the retail industry. Check out Our Solutions or our Need Space Interactive infographic to learn more about how our modular space offerings can meet your store’s specific needs. Not sure how modular fits your retail business? Just ask us.

No matter the industry, WillScot can provide a modular solution for you
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