Pop-up shops are an excellent way to test new ideas and products, engage with your target market and get feedback from potential customers, without making a big, long-term investment.
In addition to their value as a testing ground for new concepts and new businesses, pop-up shops are becoming increasingly popular as a way for existing business to take their offering to new locations.
There are lots of different factors that can determine the success or failure of a pop-up shop and it’s vital you consider these before starting your pop-up venture. Here are 6 key considerations to help you get your first pop-up shop running smoothly and generating income for your business.
1. Know what you want to achieve
There are lots of great reasons to open a pop-up shop, but it is important to be clear on what your key goals are before you open — as they should affect some of the biggest decisions you make.
Usually, the main goals are based around brand awareness, engaging with current customers and, of course, revenue generation.
Larger companies can afford to use their pop-up shops as an event to gain social traction and to create a buzz around the brand. But for a smaller business, it is more usual for the goal of a pop-up shop to be centred around testing brick-and-mortar retail selling for a particular product and for trialing the products themselves.
If you have clear goals in mind, you will stand a better chance of achieving them. Much like when attending a trade show, you should have sales targets, data capture targets and clear ideas of the information you want to find out from your audience and how you will measure these things.
Once you have these goals written down, you can proceed onto the next stages, which should have the focus of helping you achieve these goals.
In addition, if you are going to have other members of staff (or even friends) in your pop-up shop, make sure they are clear on the goals too, so they can actively strive to help you achieve them.
2. Set a budget for your pop-up shop
Before you start, you should set yourself a budget for your pop-up venture. The more you spend, the more sales you will need to make to cover your costs, so think carefully.
Of course, you may have to adjust your budget slightly as you investigate different options for your pop-up, but it’s a good idea to have some figures in mind that you will not go above.
This isn’t quite the same as what you would like to spend; everyone would like to be able to spend next to nothing and have the world’s best pop-up shop but that’s not realistic! So it’s important to be realistic, but also to establish a hard number that you cannot spend over and still expect a good ROI.
It can be easy to keep spending various things in an attempt to have the best of everything so having a budget will help you keep costs under control.
While you want to give your project the best chance possible, as with any small business venture, it is wise to take care when weighing up the costs and benefits of each extra expenditure.
There are plenty of expenses that fall outside of the obvious ones too. There will obviously be rent and utility bills to consider, but in addition, it is also important to factor in things like insurance, means of taking payment, credit card charges and things like internet and lighting if they aren’t included in your lease.
3. Do your research
Location is absolutely vital to the success or failure of a pop-up shop. Particularly as a small business, footfall is key to success.
Unlike big box brands that have a large brand following, smaller businesses rely on passing trade, the social presence they can create, web-rooming and local promotion strategies.
As such, it is important to consider what the footfall is like in the area you’re interested in — and whether the high street you are looking at has enough of your target customers.
If you have been lucky enough to see a couple of locations that you like the look of, try standing outside them at a couple of different times throughout the week and counting the number of potential customers that go past.
This will give you an idea of what potential there is and also how busy it is in peak times, as well as during low points. You will also need to consider that not every passer-by could turn into a sale!
In addition to location, it’s important to consider whether you have the time to run a pop-up. While some leases allow pop-ups to choose their hours, many contain keep-open clauses.
In the lead-up to your pop-up launch, it’s important to realistically assess whether your core business will suffer if your attention is divided. Consider your staffing options carefully and make sure that it factors into your budget calculations.
4. Think about the details
It is more than likely that you have already formed a brand or that you have ideas about what your brand should be.
It is important that your brand image is supported in the way the shop looks and feels. This includes the shop fittings, the way your products are visually merchandised and ensuring your point of sale (POS) materials support your overall image.
Essentially, it’s important that your message is clear and that everything in your pop-up (and online) supports that message.
It’s also important to think about your product. If your product isn’t completely intuitive, how are you going to educate prospective customers on what your product is or does?
As passers-by go past your shop window, it is vital that you capture their attention and that you intrigue them with your product. For more complicated products, it may be worth considering a roller banner, letter board or lightbox to explain what the product does. This will also help you capture attention to stop potential customers passing you by.
Think about the customer’s interaction with you all the way through from when they first see your window until the moment you put the product into a carrier bag (do you have carrier bags?) when they leave.
Will you also include social icons on your receipts and offers to encourage them to find you online? It’s best if you do this because it allows you to keep customers that you have gained during your pop-up adventure.
Image ©Bex Walton, reproduced under license
5. Promote your pop-up heavily
It’s really important that you try to create a buzz around your pop-up opening. This should ideally be done both online and offline. You’ll need to scale your campaign according to your budget and the audience that you already have set up.
You could consider asking your new landlord if you can put up a poster before you arrive (assuming that the shop is empty). It is also a good idea to make use of your social following by advertising an offer for the first ten customers, or a discount for your followers.
If most of your followers are currently online customers from further afield, boost your local audience by including local hashtags in tweets and gaining Facebook shares from other local companies.
If you have an email database, consider doing an email marketing campaign to those who are relatively local to where your pop-up location will be.
6. Open and engage
Your opening day is a fantastic excuse to celebrate. Make your shop front even more exciting by having something eye-catching. It could be as simple as having a balloon archway over your door.
Whatever you do, show customers you’re happy to be in your pop-up location and that they should be happy about it too!
Once you’re open, it’s important to keep the drives on social media going and to continue to use both online and offline promotion to encourage footfall.
In addition, you need to capture the hearts (and also contact details) of as many visitors to your shop as you can. Doing this will enable you to re-contact these visitors and give them other opportunities to buy from you.
Many of your pop-up visitors may follow you on social media or visit your website once or twice. But to really engage with them on a long-term basis, you need their contact details.
If you can do this, you will have the opportunity to create high-value, loyal customers and convert those who visited your pop-up shop but needed a bit longer to make a buying decision.
About the author
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Ali Newton of The Display Centre, where a team of creative experts provide store display equipment, including adult and child mannequins and bespoke items. Ali combines her fine art and fashion qualifications with her market research experience and psychology degree to help retailers drive their sales.