Pop-ups, also known as temporary retail, can be hugely beneficial for small businesses. This is because rent prices are increasing rapidly across major cities, so it’s not always easy to find a suitable permanent trading space.
Alternatively, as a business owner, you may not be sure about market share, the guaranteed footfall, or your brand profile enough in a certain area to commit to a long-term shop contract.
With a pop-up shop, however, you can test the water before you commit to anything long term. Doing so can bring in a lot of new opportunities.
Some other reasons you may want to sell your products or services in a temporary shop are:
- If you’re mainly an ecommerce brand and you’re looking to get into high-street bricks and mortar stores
- If you’re launching a new product and you want to drum up awareness and hype
- If you’re trialling a line of products and want to do some market research (sample sales)
- If there are events in a specific area (e.g. the London marathon, Glastonbury festival) that will attract your target audience
- If you’re hoping to expand globally and want to take your product on the move
- If you have surplus stock that you need to sell rather than storing in a warehouse
- If you’re looking to create a sense of ‘scarcity’ to push sales for a specific product
What do you need to open up a pop-up shop?
Business aims or goals
Before opening your temporary trading store, you should have a solid business strategy outlining the goals and objectives. Your plan you may include:
- The sales targets that you wish to achieve by hosting your popup (e.g. a sales target of £15k across three days of trading)
- The budgets you will need to assign to the complete running of the event and how this will impact your profits (e.g. rental costs, hiring costs, travel costs, fixtures and marketing costs)
- The wider long term goals you’re hoping to hit – e.g. an increase in sales across all accessories, or an uplift in brand awareness in the Scottish market etc.
A unique product or proposition
Often the success of a pop-up comes from its ability to promote and sell something that can’t be bought elsewhere.
Where there is a sense of exclusivity, this will make it worth customers' time to make the trip, rather than shop for similar products online. That’s why they are a good source of customer feedback for new launches.
Even if you haven’t got a new product, you can still create a unique USP for your pop-up. It could be that you’re selling last season’s stock, but for 70% off at this event only.
Or perhaps you’re offering customers a unique experience alongside your product e.g. a meet and greet with a fashion influencer.
A relevant location
To get the most out of your pop-up shop, you’ll need to do some in-depth research into the location. You shouldn’t open a shop without understanding how the location will impact your footfall and your business goals that you have decided on.
Depending on what you’re hoping to get out of the event, you’ll have different ideas on what the perfect location is.
It may be somewhere you’re trying to conquer and dominate market share in the next few years. On the other hand, you may want to capitalise on your existing market share by doing a pop-up event in your local area to launch a new product.
A clean, appropriate space
Once you’ve decided on your location, it’s time to scope out the perfect setting to entice customers in. Your pop-up space should showcase your products and embody what your brand is all about.
As well as the basic practicalities of space (fitting rooms, toilets etc.) you should think about the wider atmosphere you want to create in your store, something that encapsulates what your brand is all about. Think about:
- The lighting – what lighting will make customers feel relaxed but also highlight the quality of your products?
- The sound – will you have music on? How loud will it be? Will it be a controlled playlist? Do you need licensing?
- The layout – how will customers navigate around your store? Can you use buyer behaviour psychology to figure out where to place products to increase transaction values?
The right payments software
Whether you’re selling £3 coffees or £300 dresses, your customers should feel confident and comfortable with the payment process. Just because your new venue is not your permanent shop, that shouldn’t stop you from offering card payments to potential buyers. After all, over seven billion people in the UK are living a cash-free lifestyle as of 2020.
Accepting card payments need not be time-consuming or costly or bulky for small or independent business owners.
A solid marketing strategy
It’s not easy to pull together the requirements for a successful pop-up event. You don’t want all of your hard work to go unnoticed, or fall short. In order to make it a success, people need to know about it.
Well ahead of the event, plan a strategy to reach your target audience in the most cost-effective and efficient way. If you’re a fashion brand you may want to experiment with sponsored posts on Instagram to bring in a higher number of customers.
If you’re already well-known locally and want to encourage a wider audience, you may try location-specific paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter.
As well as thinking about who you will target, think about the content that will make the most impact. It should be compelling and punchy as well as practical. Include key details that would be helpful for customers e.g. event location address/postcode, opening times, nearest tube station/best public transport.
Thinking about opening a pop-up or temporary retail space for your small business? Need to enter the future with card payments for customers? Take advantage of no long-term contracts and reliable connectivity on the move.
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