Everyone is doing it, from big brands to small start-up businesses, from fashion icons to your friend Steve who just started his own personalised T-shirts line (you may not have a friend called Steve, but you know what I mean).
Like the latest hipster trend, pop-up shops have taken over High Streets, markets, art galleries and pretty much any other place where you can set up a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it business. They are so attractive that you may even be tempted to set one up of your own, and I wouldn’t blame you.
BUT keep in mind that while they may look simple, there’s a lot more to them that meets the eye.
That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to lead you through what you need to do to in order to build your very first pop-up shop and make it a success.
Let’s start with the basics:
WHAT IS A POP-UP SHOP?
A pop-up shop is a temporary space for someone to sell their products. It works as a regular shop with the only difference being that it’s got an expiration date. Unlike a pop-up book, though, they don’t magically appear when you turn a page. A lot more work goes into it.
The benefits of running a pop-up Shop
- It creates urgency for customers
- It’s cheaper to launch than a regular shop
- It gives you a chance to test a new market, neighbourhood, product with little risk
- It’s an opportunity to take advantage of high traffic during special dates
- It’s got lower risks than a regular shop
Is it for you?
Before you even start trying to decide between millennial pink and mauve for the walls, it is important to think through if a pop-up shop is a good idea for your business. Just because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t mean you have to, as well.
Pop-up shops are a good idea if you’re
- Launching a new product
- Running a promotion
- Taking advantage of a special occasion
- Testing the waters of selling face-to-face*
* Especially important if you’ve only been doing e-commerce until now.
Spreading the word
Another thing to keep in mind is that unless you locate your pop-up shop in a spot with lots of traffic, you’ll need to attract the audience yourself and nowadays this means the internet. Are you able to reach to a big audience? And if you can: are they interested in what you’re selling?
To know this, a good starting point would be to take a look at your social media: Do you have a large audience? Do they engage with your content? Does this engagement go further than the eventual ‘Like’?
If the answer to the previous questions is ‘no’ then I’d suggest spending some time cultivating your followers before jumping into the pop-up bandwagon. It won’t do anybody any good if you spend all your time, money and energy in this endeavour only for nobody to show up.
In order to properly market a pop-up shop, you’ll need a mix of both online and offline marketing. Online will allow you to tease your audience and let them know what’s coming, while offline will keep your target audience engaged once you’ve set up the shop.
Who’s your customer?
If you already have an established online business then you’ve probably already filled the following questionnaire. Still, it might be worth refreshing the following points if you’re expanding your business from the virtual world to the physical one.
Answering these questions will also help you with points we’ll cover ahead in this post. A few examples of questions you might want to answer are:
- How old are they?
- What job do they have?
- Where do they hang out?
- What’s their marital status?
- What are their hobbies?
Think of your story-telling
What is it exactly that you want to tell? How do you set yourself apart from the competition? An engaging pop-up shop goes beyond arranging products in a fancy way. A well-implemented brand strategy will tell a story instead of selling.
You can show your brand’s personality through graphic design, visual merchandising and even staff uniforms! If you want to find out more about brands and their storytelling, you might want to check a blog post we did a while ago on brand archetypes.
There are many things you can do through your social network outlets to promote your pop-up shop. Run a contest, give your followers a special preview, create teaser videos, share the progress of building your very first pop-up shop, and more.
Keep the conversation going, but don’t overwhelm your followers with constant updates. And above all, don’t forget to create a hashtag! Make it something simple and use tools like Tagboard to keep track of it (it’s free to use!).
A good use of social media to promote a pop-up shop was when during their second year of graphic design, the students at Central St Martins in London have come up with a really interesting reworking of the concept of a pop-up shop that ‘brings meaning to the marketplace’ and turns ‘the world of commerce on its head’.
Calling itself the world’s first pre-drop-pop-up shop the idea was that the more times the web page worthpop.co.uk got shared on social media, then the price of the art inside the shop dropped. The starting price for each piece was £1 million and at the time of writing the first version of this blog post it had dropped to £37,155.
It really does turn the idea of commerce upside down. The more exposure and media hype there is, the cheaper it becomes.
— CSM Graphic Design (@csmgraphics) May 17, 2014
If you want to learn more about how to promote your pop-up event, head over to The Events Structure where you’ll find an in-depth guide about how to promote on each social media channel.
Don’t be satisfied with just a launch party: Plan events to be hosted at your pop-up shop. Do discounts, plan a mojitos night (you may need a permit to sell food and/or beverages), get a band to give an acoustic concert. Give people a reason to go back to your pop-up shop.
Find a place
Location, location, location – the right place could make the difference between a successful pop-up shop and an unsuccessful one.
Do some research around the neighbourhood
Have there been other pop-up shops before yours? Have they been successful? Is there enough traffic on the streets? Are people there going to be interested in what you’re selling?
Don’t be afraid to approach venues you like even if they’re not offering a place for rent
In today’s economy, people would rather rent by the day than not rent at all. Make a proposal, you might be surprised. If it doesn’t come through, then at least you tried it. Don’t take it personally if they’re not interested.
Use online tools
Websites like The Store Front can help you find the perfect location for your pop-up shop without too much hassle.
Consider places where a shop wouldn’t usually be. In order to promote her album Witness, Katy Perry opened a pop-up shop in the Kim Sing Theatre in Los Angele’s Chinatown.
If you look hard enough (even if you don’t have a huge budget) I’m sure you’ll be able to find original and affordable venues.
— KATY PERRY (@katyperry) June 15, 2017
Make sure it’s got everything you need
Does it have space in the back for stock? Will everyone fit? Does it come with Wi-Fi? Is the lighting good enough? These questions and more you’ll need to ask yourself before committing to a venue.
Nothing can kill a buzz faster than realising your dream locale doesn’t have enough space for the products you want to sell. Spare yourself the trouble by being nitpicky from the very beginning.
Read the small print
If you have to sign a contract, read the tiny print! Do you need insurance? What are the requisites for getting your deposit back? It might mean more work now, but it might save you future headaches.
Plan the logistics
Sit down and (calmly) organise a calendar for your pop-up shop. How long will it take to get the venue ready? Do you need to paint walls and set up the Wi-Fi? How long will it take to transport all of your products and organise them in an attractive way?
For a person who’s doing this for the first time, it might be a bit overwhelming. Get coached by someone who’s done it before and use tools like Google Calendar and Todoist (I swear by it) to organise yourself. Getting your timings right will make the process much easier.
Simply put, this is how your customers will navigate through your shop. Visual merchandising can be a science in itself that some people spend good money to study, but you can learn the basics and how to apply them to your shop:
Leave enough space for people to browse and navigate
- Make a great first impression by designing a great entrance
- Give importance to your best-sellers
Signage, keep it simple and attractive
Make it clear this is a pop-up shop. Your customers need to understand you’ll be gone for a short while to create a sense or urgency. Don’t be afraid to spend money on a graphic designer, a good communication will go a long way.
If you need inspiration you can check out this pop-up Shop that the brand Sita Murt opened in Sitges (near Barcelona). Their graphic design was very simple, but it stood out and was cost-effective on top of good looking.
Some examples that will help you out
Scheduled to coincide with the New York Fashion Week, Marc Jacobs opened a pop-up shop from the 7th to the 9th of February 2014 with customers paying in ‘social currency’ instead of money. This means that no actual money was exchanged in the shop but tweets, Instagram photos and Facebook posts were rewarded with Marc Jacobs–branded gifts.
Using social currency means that the brand makes sure that they not only provide an interesting experience in the shop but also a strong presence online.
The Fashion brand Kenzo decided to debut its new line promoting the ‘fight against overfishing and development of marine reserves’ with a pop-up shop in Paris that was actually more of an installation.
Visitors could not enter the shop, instead, they would use the touch screen windows to browse and purchase the items on sale.The shop was open for a week, during which a photo uploaded to Instagram with the hashtag #nofishnonothing would score you a fish with your name, swimming around in the window display.
The Walking Dead
To promote the 4th season of the show, The Walking Dead asked visitors of their pop-up shop in Portugal to pay for merchandise in blood. Due to an increase of 571% in blood donations, the initiative was a huge success for both for the national blood bank and the popular TV Show.
It was so successful in fact that they planned to open more pop-up shops with the same concept in other seven countries.
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like reading:
- Celebrities who have a clothing line (And you didn’t even know)
- 19 British streetwear influencers on Instagram
- The ABCs of how to rent a restaurant for an event
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