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The Ultimate Guide to Pop-Up Shops

Why Run a Pop-Up?

Merchants both small and large are flocking to set-up their own pop-up stores and are embracing the trend, from brands that sell exclusively online to big brands like Nike, proving that pop-ups are here to stay. But before we get started in helping you on your journey, let’s first discuss perhaps the most important thing.

What is a Pop-Up Shop?

A “pop-up shop” is a short-term, temporary retail event that is "here today, gone tomorrow". Pop-up retail is the temporary use of physical space to create a long term, lasting impression with potential customers. A pop-up shop allows you to communicate your brand’s promise to your customers through the use of a unique and engaging physical environment while creating an immersive shopping experience.

Now that we’ve got the definition out of the way, let’s talk about some of the benefits of doing a pop-up shop.

What are the benefits to doing a pop-up?

Each brand will have different goals and outcomes that they’ll expect to accomplish through doing a pop-up, or wish to experience different benefits from selling through them.

Here are seven key benefits that will motivate you to consider doing one.

1. Test a New Revenue Stream

If you're an ecommerce business, pop-up shops provide a relatively low-cost way to explore adding an additional revenue stream. Not only is it a fraction of what you'd pay for an actual physical retail location, if the concept is executed and popularized well, you could rake in a significant profit.

2. Engage Customers Offline

You've heard it before, but not being able to try on a product before purchasing can be a very real pain point. To be honest, there’s just something about being able to physically touch a product before you buy which makes the shopping experience very enticing for consumers. To further validate the idea, a recent study by Accenture showed that 78% of shoppers are “webrooming” (browsing online, then purchasing in a store) today.

3. Create “Get It While It Lasts” Urgency

The beauty of a pop-up shop is that it's a limited window of time for consumers to engage with your brand and purchase your products. The idea that you're not going to be around for long is a huge plus point in getting customers to buy. Scarcity drives action through customers wanting exclusive, limited edition, or other products they can't get otherwise, and a pop-up shop puts you in a perfect position to take advantage.

4. Market Merchandise Around a Sale, Season, or Holiday

There's nothing like jumping on the holiday bandwagon, especially when you factor in how much people spend on their loved ones. It doesn't matter if you're looking to sell dresses for New Years, flowers on Valentines, costumes on Halloween, or kitchenware on Thanksgiving, tying your brand closely with a holiday and giving consumers a physical location to access you is a great way to be opportunistic and make a significant amount of cash.

5. Educate New Customers

When you’re trying to sell a crazy new invention that hasn’t crossed over into the mass consumer subconscious, a pop-up shop can help you understand how your existing marketing collateral performs with actual customers while getting real-time feedback on how it can be improved. Even if you’re just looking to drive pre-orders before going full throttle on manufacturing, giving your potential customers a live demo or walking them through how your product works is a great way to get through to those early adopters.

Another scenario is when you've got a product that makes people scratch their heads, like beard oil for urban beardsmen, or plastic wrap alternatives made out of beeswax, pop-ups can be an effective way to demonstrate the value of your product and get people intrigued enough to either become customers on the spot or solid prospects.

6. Go to Where Your Customers Are

This is an especially strong reason to do a pop-up shop when you've perhaps had some experience selling online and have a good idea of your customer profile that allows you to identify the areas or locations that they're most likely to frequent. The benefit of being able to select a certain side street, kiosk, or vacant gallery space is that you can match your wares with the personality of a given demographic and go to where they go.

7. Generate Brand Awareness

Let's face it, the competition to market and sell online is become just as stiff as offline retailing. Which is why having a one-two punch approach is where the entire retail industry is heading through an omni-channel presence. By engaging prospective customers offline and delighting them with an unforgettable experience and quality products, you can then point them to your online site and social accounts, where they can stay in touch and continue to buy your wares.

What Are Your Pop-Up Goals?

Different sized brands will have different goals for doing a pop-up, however, they typically tend to fall into the three big buckets of:

  1. Revenue Generation

  2. Brand Awareness

  3. Customer Engagement

Not to say that you couldn’t have all three goals to aspire for, however, it is important to clarify your primary goal as that will dictate how you make decisions around aspects of your retail store design and promotion strategy. Several well-known brands will do a pop-up for the sole purpose of surprising and delighting prospective customers to capture a larger share-of-mind when it comes to their brand’s positioning, whereas smaller brands want to see if they can sell their wares in retail and get feedback on their brand, shopping experience, and determine which products are winners and which will never sell.

Some questions you can ask yourself to help determine which goals work best for you, consider the following:

  • Are you launching a brand for the first time?

  • Are you announcing a new product line within an existing brand?

  • Are you flushing out the current season's inventory to make room for new merchandise?

  • Are you interested in testing new geographic regions in which to establish your brand?

  • Are you a highly established brand interested in marketing and customer appreciation?

Budgeting for Your Pop-Up Shop

Having a clear and articulate budget for your pop-up store is a critical and vital step which will help you determine some of the most important components when it comes to doing a pop-up. For example, you’ll know how much you can afford for rent which will determine which locations and properties are worth your while to scout and inquire about, or how much you can spend on designing the interior of your store, or marketing your pop-up for that matter. Here's a few items that you'll definitely want to factor in when creating your budget:

  • Rent

  • Utilities

  • Insurance

  • Internet

  • POS

  • Credit Card Fees

  • Merchandising Fixtures

  • Furniture

  • Checkout Counter

  • Lighting

  • Paint

  • Inventory

  • Window Display Props

  • Marketing and Promotion

  • Food and Drinks

Depending on the duration of the pop-up and your goals your budget will have additional or less items. However, once you have a rough idea of how much you’re willing to spend on your pop-up, you’re then ready to start looking for a location, which we’ll cover in the next chapter.

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