Everyone is doing it, from big brands to small start-up businesses, from fashion icons to Steve that just got his personalised clothing. 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 shop. You may even be tempted to set one up of your own and I wouldn’t blame you. Pop-Up shops may look simple, but there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye.
Don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a simple guide to lead you through what you need to do to in order to build your 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 is 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 than a regular shop
- Gives you a chance to test a new market, neighbourhood, product with little risk
- An opportunity to take advantage of high traffic during special dates
Is it for you?
Before you even start imagining the decorations, it is important to think through if a Pop-Up shop is a good idea for your business. Just because everybody else is doing it, it doesn’t mean you have to do it as well. Pop Up shops are a good idea for launching a new product, running a promotion, or taking advantage of a special occasion. They are also great for testing the waters of a physical space if you’ve only been selling online until now. Since there is an end date the risks and investments are lower than if you commit to a “real” shop.
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 you? 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 in this endeavour only for nobody to show up.
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 into the physical one. Answering these questions will also help you with points we’ll cover ahead in this post. An 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 they 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 couple of months ago on brand archetypes.
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 of what’s coming, while offline will keep your target audience engaged once you’ve set up the shop.
- Social Media: 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!)
- 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 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 personal if they’re not interested. Not everyone is into the Pop-Up business.
- Use online tools. Websites like The Store Front can help you find the perfect location for your Pop-Up shop without too much hassle.
- 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’m a big fan) to organise yourself. Getting your timings right will make the process much easier.
Visual merchandising. Simply put, this is how your customers will navigate through your store. 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 in 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 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 make sure that they not only provide an interesting experience in the shop, but also a strong presence online through engaging with their visitors. Facebook identified Marc Jacobs as one of the top fragrance brands for engaging with their audience through the social media platform, which ultimately lead to the development of the pop up shop.
Fashion brand Kenzo decided to debut its new line promoting the ‘fight against over fishing and development of marine reserves’ with a pop up shop in Paris that was actually more of an installation. Visitors could not enter the ‘No Fish No Nothing digital pop up shop’, which was displayed as an aquiarium, complete with touch screen windows on which the customers could browse and purchase men’s and women’s clothing from the range.
The shop was open for a week, during which time 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
Popular TV show, The Walking Dead heralded the start of it’s 4th season by asking visitors to their pop up shop in Portugal to pay for merchandise in blood. The initiative was huge success, both for the national blood bank and for The Walking dead. The national blood bank saw a 571% increase in blood donations and publicity gained from the store was heard all over the world.
It was so successful in fact that The Walking Dead plan to open more pop up shops with the same concept in another 7 countries. This pop up shop also included some pretty cool printed t-shirts too because everybody loves a printed tee!
Central St Martins
The second year graphic design 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 it’s head’.
Calling itself the worlds first prce-drop pop-up the idea is that the more times that the webpage www.worthpop.co.uk is shared on social media, the price of the art inside the shop drops. The starting price for each piece is £1 million and at the time of writing has dropped to £37,155.
I personally find it such an interesting and innovative project as it really does turn the idea of commerce upside down. The more exposure and media hype there is, the cheaper it becomes.
— CentralSaintMartins (@csm_news) May 21, 2014
Pop-Up shops while trending, are not be for everyone. Face-to-face interaction may be a more enjoyable experience for some people, but not if it comes at the expense of your resources. Be smart and do your research before committing yourself to this project. It might be short lived, but a Pop-Up store is still a business and therefore needs to be taken seriously. If you want to take a more in depth look at how to open a Pop-Up Shop you can read this comprehensive guide Shopify put together.
What is your Pop-Up shop going to look like? We would love to know! Let us know in the comments below or contact us through any of our social media outlets. In the meantime, keep reading the Printsome Blog for more awesome content.
Printsome is a t-shirt printing company offering from t-shirt printing Belfast to t-shirt printing Stoke-on-trent, and everywhere else in the UK. For a quick quote on bag printing or simply a nice chat about pop up stores, give us a shot!