Whether you hear temporary retail, flash retailing, pop-up store, or pop-up shop, it is all one and the same. Pop-up shops are taking over the retail world and rethinking traditional brick-and-mortar and big-box stores, but what exactly is a shop that “pops up”?
Introduced as early as the 1990’s in large suburban cities such as London, Los Angeles, Tokyo and NYC, pop-up shops and pop-up retail are temporary spaces that sell merchandise of any kind. That’s right, just about every consumer product has been sold via a pop-up shop at one point in time. From art to fashion to tech gadgets and food, pop-up stores are exciting because they create short-term stores that are as creative as they are engaging. And they come in all shapes and sizes.
What Are The Benefits Of A Pop-Up Shop?
Connect with customer: The pop-up retail format allows you to personally get to know your customers and build stronger relationships.
Sell more: About 95% of purchases are still completed offline. This is your opportunity to take advantage of this retail channel.
Build awareness: Consumer and the media love the excitement generated by pop-up shops. Build awareness by going offline.
It’s cheaper: Launching a pop-up shop is 80% cheaper than a traditional retail store.
Test new markets: Easily enter a new market and launch new products.
Who Can Start A Pop-Up Shop?
The short answer: everyone. Big name brands, including FILA and Danone have tested out the pop-up concept, as well as local artists, makers and fashion designers who have all become increasingly popular in the pop-up scene. Even mobile food trucjs, designer fashion houses and vintage pop-up stores have been spotted around cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
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:
- Revenue Generation
- Brand Awareness
- 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 brand will do a pop-up for the sole purpose of surprising and delighting prospective customer 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:
- Are you launching a brand for the first time?
- Are you announcing a new product line with 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?
How to choose the best destination for your next pop-up shop
- Set Goals:
If you don’t set out specific goals in mind, it will be difficult to measure how successful your pop-up store was. Perhaps it’s to launch a new product, do market research on a new concept, or grow your customer base. Those goals can guide you in the right direction. If you want to test a new product, go to destinations where you have many existing customers. If you want to grow your customer base, head to a location with lots of foot traffic.
- Identify Your Target Audience:
Identifying your target audience can help you narrow down the list of destinations. You can determine whether they are in urban or suburban areas, where and when they do their shopping, and how much they are willing to spend.
If you are an online retailer, evaluating your sales date can help you distinguish a profitable market base. It is also important to decide if you are going to base your pop-up location on geographic segmentation (a specific market, state, or region), demographic segmentation (targeting gender, age, income level, etc), or time/seasonality.
- Establish A Budget:
Be conscious of your budget as you tour potential locations. A good rule of thumb is to expect your expect your budget to break down as follows:
- 30% for the location itself (rental space)
- 30% for staffing, promotion, and miscellaneous expenses (travel and lodging to prepare for the pop-up, WiFi, hired staff to work the store, marketing budget, etc.)
- 20% for logistics (store set up and moving inventory)
- 20% for design (creating your optimal layout)
- Big City or the Suburbs:
New Your City and Los Angeles, the two most populous American cities, remain top locations for pop-up stores due to the sheer volume of the markets. Some brands have experimented with pop-up stores in large cities as a way to provide convenience and access to shoppers without the hassle of commitment of operating a brick and mortar store in a congested area.
However, there are a number of reasons you might choose smaller cities. It is generally less expensive to rent space in smaller cities. Additionally, many small and medium sized cities are renewing their image and fostering innovation, thus making them eager to welcome pop-up shops to stimulate the local economy.
You may also find in your research that your target audience resides primarily in smaller cities, or, you may want to branch out or test in a smaller market if you’re already operating in a larger city. Smaller markets such as Releigh, NC, Knoxville, TN, and Richmond, VA, for example, have seen a surge in small pop-up shops.
- Consider Events:
You have identified your target audience, and you can use the information about their interests to identify events that they will likely attend.
Many fashion and luxury brands have found success at Fashion Week, for example, gaining visibility to their target demographic. When determining which events make sense for your brand’s pop-up store, refer back to your identified audience and understand where they will be –and why.
- The Unexpected:
Don’t be afraid to dream up and idea and work to have it come to fruition. If you find a unique pop-up venue that you know would make sense for your brand, goals, and target audience, that can determine which destination you target fro your pop-up store.
Marketing Your Pop-Up Store
Marketing your pop-up store is very important. You must maximize exposure before, during and after so that you can gain the most from it. Before your pop-up store, try scheduling some social media campaigns to spread the buss, come up with a hashtag to track your clout, plus keep in mind things like reaching out to influencers and the press to make sure that the word gets out and is promoted properly.
Marketing While Live
During the pop-up store, think about hosting an event that will get people to the store, inviting influencers with a large social following, or offering up food and drink to introduce your pop-up concept and perhaps selecting a few items to sell to build hype. Also think about unique ways to get people into the store like hosting workshops, talks, and instagrammable moments to lure in customers.
After the pop-up shop is over, ensure that your team generated a lot of content from it, whether it be through press hits, shareable photographs, or blog articles so that you can continue to market the experience, and leverage its success for future pop-up stores, a brick-and-mortar store, or even to host the concept digitally on your site.
Design the Right In-Store Experience
It’s very important to leave your customers with a certain feeling from the experience, not just a product transaction. This lasts much longer in a customer’s mind than a physical product might. For example, focus on a fun, interactive pop-up store where you can really connect with your customers, plus educate them in subtle ways about the brand rather than making it look intentional. By creating a certain lifestyle experience around your brand, you are able to give customers added value plus something tangible to remember (like your product) to remember on top of that.
Pop-up stores experiences are varied, but the successful ones have a lasting impression on customers because they were interactive, surprising, or memorable. Whether you choose to do this through a splashy event, a new collaboration announcement, or a wholly unique in-store design. It will pay off.
Attention to Detail
Physical retailers compete against digital experiences. Retail stores must now provide an added value to get customers in the door, so paying attention to detail when planning your pop-up store is key. Try creating décor that really stands out to your customers. Not only will you score some extra Instagram points, it will also help give customers a reason to remember the store, plus tell their friends about it. Having branded items in the store like stickers of tissue paper are also small things you can do to make sure the customer journey doesn’t just stop when customers leave the shop. Your pop-up store’s success depends on connecting your brand to elements that you choose for the store, so choose wisely!
Lastly, Have Fun Popping-Up!
As you’ve seen, you don’t need to be a household brand to connect with customers and followers in the real world. All you need is willingness to see the opportunity in taking advantage of all the ways pop-ups can open doors for your business. The gap between the online and offline world is decreasing at a rapid pace and just like any other industry, retail is trying to keep pace with the way consumers and their shopping habits are evolving. Pop-ups are just one piece of the puzzle that will continue to become a bigger and bigger part of lives. We hope you found this guide practical, informative, and inspiring. Here’s to creating pop-up experiences that customers can’t help but fall in love with. Good luck and happy selling!