Here’s an exciting trend: The brick-and-mortar store is having a resurgence. After years stuck perusing e-commerce sites, shoppers are ready to get back out there and enjoy the multisensory experience that is shopping in person. In fact, 60% of Gen-Z shoppers are more likely to shop in brick-and-mortars than online compared with a few years ago, and Forrester predicts that 72% of retail will take place offline in 2024. That being said, even if you have a successful e-commerce business, opening a brick-and-mortar store can feel daunting, especially if you’re uncertain about the demand for a shop like yours. That’s why a pop-up shop might be the right avenue for you.
What is a pop-up shop? It’s a small, temporary retail space, usually for testing a product line or drumming up enthusiasm for a brand. It’s a great retail strategy for getting your product off a screen and into the real world. You can host your pop-up in a variety of venues, whether it’s in a parked vintage camper, in an open warehouse, or even within another popular retail store. Whatever form it takes, pop-ups are an excellent way to test out selling in a physical space.
Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about opening your very own pop-up shop, from the benefits and key considerations to best practices and creative visual display ideas.
What are the benefits of a pop-up shop?
Pop-ups are usually billed as a lower-risk way to try selling your product in person, but they come with all sorts of benefits. Here are just a few:
- Novel experiences drive excitement: The temporary nature of a pop-up shop drives urgency. If people hear they have only a few weeks or even just a few days to shop, they’ll go out of their way to get it done. This is especially true during key shopping seasons, like the winter holidays.
- Shoppers can try out your products in real life: Whether you sell clothing, perfume, or tech, there’s nothing more important than getting your product in shoppers’ hands (or on their bodies) so they can test it out IRL. It can be hard to market a hand-knit sweater online but easy to sell once a customer feels how cozy it is. Plus, you won’t need to wait for reviews to roll in or pay for online surveys: You’ll be able to see if people like (or even have suggestions for) your products in real time.
- Spread brand awareness: Whether you’re popping up within a retail store (and piggybacking on their foot traffic) or setting up a demo station at a mall, every sign, item sold, or shopping bag with your branding is an opportunity to get your name and products out there. A good pop-up will tell your brand story in a creative and memorable way so that even new shoppers will come away with a passion for your brand online and off.
- Test out a location: With a pop-up, you can test-drive a location or neighborhood before committing to leasing a store. You can get valuable information about foot traffic, types of customers, and your potential profit after managing a pop-up store for a few weeks. This information can be key when deciding if a permanent space might be right for your business.
Our tips for a successful pop-up
Here’s what we know: a thoughtfully designed pop-up shop makes a difference. Set up your store with pleasing experiences, cool displays, and spots for shoppers to learn and engage. You’ll build brand awareness and loyalty, make people linger longer, and ultimately drive sales.
Tip 1: Make the most of your window display
Do you ever stop in front of a big department store during the holiday season, dazzled by the festive motifs? Your goal is to catch the attention of passersby and entice them to come inside your shop. Make sure your window is truly a window into your brand: consider floral arrangements, a thoughtful color palette, maybe even a multimedia set-up showcasing your wares. Specificity makes a shop memorable, so be sure to do your research about your target audience and what they respond to.
Tip 2: Set up your sidewalk signage
If you don’t have the luxury of a window display (or even if you do), create engaging sidewalk signage somewhere busy to direct foot traffic into your pop-up. Make sure it’s branded with the same color scheme and theme as your shop, so people have a seamless thematic experience. Offering a price promotion? Plug that on your signage too.
Tip 3: Use social media to promote your shop
Post consistently about your upcoming pop-up with enticing photos and useful information. You might try partnering with an influencer to drum up excitement and reach a new audience of potential shoppers. Be sure to incorporate your social media handles in all your branding to build up your followers and strengthen your brand.
Tip 4: Don’t go overboard
With a pop-up shop, you may be inclined to do everything: more items, more smells, more music, more people, when in reality, that kind of chaos can be a turnoff for shoppers. Keep the space clutter-free and relaxing. Be cognizant of creating a space where people will want to spend time, browse, buy, and maybe even come back another day.
Tip 5: Consider the five senses
When you’re shopping online, the only sense you’re using is sight (and potentially sound). But in person, retailers can woo shoppers with beautiful smells, music, tasty treats, and more. Take a hint from our post about in-store demos: Workshops, try-ons, on-site hemming, or a short massage featuring the skincare products you sell are all great ways to keep shoppers engaged. You might even offer a little freebie. People love candy, for example.
Tip 6: Don’t forget the check-out experience
Make sure there is enough staff to manage registers and that there are simple ways to spend (like tap and pay). Better yet: Set up QR codes around the shop. A recent report by Facebook says 67% of surveyed shoppers would be encouraged to revisit a store that features QR codes to check product availability while in-store. You can also include some fun impulse-buy options near the checkout area. Think: travel roll-on oils, decks of cards, mini lipsticks for your purse, friendship bracelets.
Need some inspiration? We particularly love the colorful and whimsical Sézane pop-ups across the US and Europe, or take a look back at the Malone Souliers X Bridgerton pop-up at Bloomingdale’s (hello, genius partnership idea). While these brands might be more established than yours, the important thing to note is their creativity, adherence to theme, and strong brand voice. Don’t forget that Warby Parker started as an online boutique with a single pop-up as well. Keep these beautiful shops in mind as you start planning!
Launching a pop-up is a great way to transition your business to omnichannel retail shopping. While it may take some prep and research, it can increase brand awareness, create customer loyalty, and drive sales.