Content:

  1. Background of pop-up stores
  2. Pros of pop-up stores
  3. Life cycle of a pop-up store
  4. Global case studies
  5. Summing up

If you pay attention, you can spot temporary sales outlets (tents, kiosks, trucks, etc.) literally everywhere, e.g. at festivals, shopping malls, in the street, etc. Such outlets have a specific name, “pop-up stores.” In this post, we’ll find out how pop-up stores emerged and how you can use them for promotion.

Background of pop-up stores 

A pop-up store is a temporary outlet selling a limited amount of products. It can be organized at any venue and then easily transported to another spot.    

The first pop-up stores emerged in the early 2000s, when a Los Angeles brand organized a sale right in the middle of the street. Since then, renowned brands started to use this trick as an unobtrusive way to catch the attention of the audience. Companies were selling accessories and designer clothing on the beach, in parks, on a London double-decker bus, and other unexpected places.  

It was not until 2010 that the bold idea was borrowed by brands operating in the post-Soviet space. The trend took root and is now thriving. If you’re open to experiments and new things, it’s a great technique for marketing your retail business. 

Pros of pop-up stores

There are multiple reasons why opening a pop-up store can be a big step forward in terms of promoting your brand.  

Lower costs

Since a pop-up store is a temporary outlet, you can easily create one at no extraordinary cost. Renting a stall or a truck is definitely less costly than renting and renovating a brick-and-mortar shop. Plus, you can use a pop-up store as long as it suits you, from one day to a whole month. 

Offline coverage

For online businesses, a pop-up store can become a great way for acquiring clients in offline environment. There is still a segment of customers who prefer shopping at land-based outlets. This is your chance to convert keen offline shoppers to online ones. A customer who bought your product at your pop-up store, is likely to go to your online store for the next purchase because the latter offers a wider selection of goods. 

Hypothesis testing

A pop-up store is also a great platform for testing various marketing hypothesis, e.g. how clients like the design of your pop-up store, which offers evoke the biggest interest, which products are most in demand, etc. Plus, if you’re launching a new product, you can test it among your pop-up store visitors.  

Promotion

A pop-up store is an organic way to promote your main store (whether it’s based online or offline) in an unusual environment, such as a busy street, summer festival, waterfront, etc. By putting your business out there, you raise your brand awareness and gain the trust of both your existing and potential customers. 

Selling leftover inventory

If you have some overstock inventory, there is no better place to get rid of it than a pop-up store. Tell your audience that you’ll be doing a spontaneous sale at a certain venue. We bet some of your clients have been eagerly waiting for discounts! 

How do I brand my pop-up store?

First you need to create a logo. Then you need to choose the right color schemes, fonts, and layouts for branding your pop-up store.

Life cycle of a pop-up store

The temporary nature of a pop-up store does not mean that it should be taken lightly. Instead, opening a pop-up store is a very responsible task. You’ll have to think through every single step, from market research to performance analysis. Listed below are the main issues to consider when launching a temporary sales outlet.  

Set your goal

When opening a pop-up store, you can pursue one or several goals, such as: 

  • introduce a new product;
  • explore a new market niche;
  • attract a new audience or rekindle the interest of those who left to competitors;
  • create a land-based outlet and find brand ambassadors;
  • sell leftover inventory.

Based on your goal, you’ll be building the suitable strategy. While you may achieve multiple goals in the process, you need to start from one dominant goal. Plus, you need to outline all the participants involved in the project. 

Choose a spot

When talking about the right place for opening a pop-up store, there are four major options we’d like to draw your attention to.  

An open air venue is probably the most budget-friendly option we’re going to address. Running a counter or mobile truck at a local festival or farmers market is going to cost you half as much as renting premises for a brick-and-mortar shop. However, everything comes at a price. Working at an open-air venue, you’ll be at the mercy of the weather. Also, you’ll have to embark on a quest of obtaining the approval of the city administration.  

A small kiosk or store with a separate entrance is literally the same as a traditional land-based store. If you are not pressed for money, you can consider this option. The main con is that attracting audience to such a spot is a real challenge. 

A promo stall or truck in a shopping mall. Shopping malls tend to have high traffic which is good for your pop-up store. Plus, you can divide marketing costs with a mall. At the same time, distinguishing your target audience among the people visiting the mall can be tricky. Here is another pitfall that may undermine your enthusiasm. Being your host, the shopping center may set a series of requirements for the design, colors, and other aspects of your store.  

A spot in a friendly store. You can try to find a land-based business that would agree to provide a shell for displaying your products. The undoubted advantage of this option is that you get access to an established clientele that trusts the store you’re collaborating with. In this context, customers are likely to get interested in your products. The drawbacks are multiple. For example, you can’t design the store the way you like, correct the behavior of the sales assistant (unless he or she is your employee), and things like that.  

Attract customers

When it comes to grabbing customer attention, things work pretty much the same as with a land-based store. You need to carefully select online (social networks, forums, etc.) and offline (flyers, magazine ads, etc.) channels for marketing your pop-up shop. Pick the channel, create a unique selling proposition, and off you go!   

Hire staff

Pop-up stores are often opened by the owners of online stores who usually have 2-5 employees that work remotely. In this case, it would be wiser to hire new employees rather than retrain the existing ones. Plus, there are situations when you need to hire people to do a specific task. For example, you’re releasing a new clothing line and want your potential customers to see how your new designs look on real people. In this case, you need to hire models among women that represent your target audience (age, weight, constitution, etc.).   

Analyze your performance

As said earlier, your strategy must be based on the goal you’re pursuing. Take the time to track and analyze the performance of your pop-up store, including sales, revenue, mentions on social media, customer reviews, etc. This will help you understand whether you’ve achieved your goal and tasks.  

Global case studies

Let’s take a look at the pop-up stores opened by major brands. We hope it’ll give you a better understanding of what you should be aiming for.

Adidas Pop-up

Adidas opened a temporary outlet that looked exactly like a giant sneakers box. Tiffany used the Christmas skating rink in London as a platform for its pop-up store in the form of a ring box. As you can see, using packaging as a design idea for a pop-up store is a rather common practice among companies. Be careful though. A huge Louis Vuitton suitcase-shaped pavilion built in Red Square in Moscow caused mixed reactions and was criticized by many as inappropriate. 

H&M Pop-up

H&M organized an austere wooden container with beach accessories right by the ocean. The iconic fashion brand Hermès borrowed this idea for its pop-up boutique in Hong Kong that stood out for its screaming orange design. In Milan, Zoe brand put up a bike store made entirely of plywood sheets. As you can see, pop-up stores can successfully combine unusual design and low-cost materials.   

Penguin Books Pop-up

And don’t forget about pop-up store on wheels! Mobile trucks by Penguin Books have become an organic part of popular venues in Great Britain and all over the world. These bright orange book shops on wheels are hard to miss!  

Summing up

If you need to introduce a new product, launch a sale or marketing campaign, you should definitely tap into the potential of a pop-up store! A pop-up store gives you the flexibility to expand your brand awareness and create an engaging experience for your customers. While offering a ton of benefits, pop-up shops are not as difficult to organize as one might think. All you need is an exciting concept to create the impact you’re hoping for. Let’s summarize this article by outlining the main rules:

  • opening a pop-up store should not be more time-consuming than opening a brick-and-mortar store;
  • when choosing a locale for your pop-up shop, focus on high-traffic areas;
  • create a strong promotional campaign for your shop;
  • be sure to measure the success of your pop-up shop (quantitative metrics).

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