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Pop-ups represent a welcome respite from retail fatigue. Today we can see restaurants, bars, events, and experiences pop up almost anywhere. For brevity’s sake, though, let’s focus on the essentials you need to know to successfully launch a pop-up store.

Defining the Pop-Up

A pop-up store offers something new and leverages people’s natural curiosity. Enthusiasm for the pop-up store relies on:

  • Word of mouth to gain momentum
  • Limited time availability of the goods
  • Added desirability tied to the fact that the shopper must be “in the know” about the shop’s presence.

Pop-up stores started out as a way for a new brand to test the market and determine if there was enough interest to support a permanent store. Today, however, you might see Kendrick Lamar and his DAMN pop-up shops or an independent clothing designer just as easily as you might see a big brand using a clever pop-up concept to launch a new product.

Powering Your Pop-Up Launch

Pop-ups are reaching the point at which they are a common retail offering. This makes it all the more important to launch your pop-up store smartly. Consider this advice:

Get Creative.

A pop-up store can’t be a standard brick and mortar affair offering the same products someone might get at the mall or somewhere else for that matter. These small, temporary retail environments should be unique and invite customer interaction in a fresh way.

Ideally, you’re renting a vacant space at a low cost. Put those rent savings into creating a truly imaginative, memorable space. If you can wow people in-store, then you’re more likely to see them sharing their experiences on their social networking platforms.

Shop for your location.

Finding the perfect place for your pop-up will take research and planning, but it’s important. Look into demographics in the neighborhood, competitive landscape, visibility and traffic opportunities just as you would for a traditional store. Yes, you will be in this spot a shorter amount of time. But, really, that just means you have to be more confident that you’re going to be able to make your mark and see sales success more quickly.

The nomadic nature of the pop-up means you can take your product to your customers. Selling handmade hammocks? Find a space near a sprawling park or music festival that draws frequent campers. Customizing pet crates for a living? Get a short-term lease by a dog park or near where people frequently walk their dogs.   

Be fleeting.

Sign a short-term lease for your shop. Have a set start and end date to your pop-up shop experiment. Claiming to be a pop-up and then staying in that same location for a year offering the same products undermines the very pop-up-ness of your venture. Your effort should be unexpected and surprising, as flash retailing depends on what American Express called the trend’s “ephemeral charm.”

Take this seriously.

Even though you want to make customers feel that their discovery of your shop is serendipitous, make sure your shop has a professional look and feel. Adrian Gonzalez, Brand Manager at VILLA, has launched a few pop-ups in his time and offers the following tips when thinking about your pop-up space.

AG’s Rules for Launching a Pop-up Shop: 

  1. Create an experience by telling a powerful product story using the merchandise being sold.
  2. Have the “WOW” factor either through the product or through the activities done at the shop.
  3. Integrate your shop with the surrounding neighborhood.
  4. Partner with local influencers to share the message.
  5. Keep store organized and clean.
  6. Rotate product regularly to help create a sense of urgency.
  7. Hire quality staff with retail experience.
  8. Educate your staff to communicate your unique selling points.

Get social.

Use social media to let people know you are in business. Encourage customers to share their experiences with your brand on their own channels. Post messages about your pop-up to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Use images of products and creative posts to help feed a steady flow of customers to your pop-up.

Pop-ups are pervasive — especially in this upcoming holiday season. Make the most of your unique opportunity with proper planning and smart strategizing.

@meadeology