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8 Tips To Make Your Pop-Up Shop a Roaring Success [For Retail Store Beginners and Pros Alike]

8 Tips To Make Your Pop-Up Shop a Roaring Success [For Retail Store Beginners and Pros Alike]

Who doesn’t love the feeling of a good pop-up shop purchase?

There’s something exciting about nabbing a rare product from a pop-up shop. And it feels good to support small businesses, instead of the top end of the retail town.

And for newbie retail business owners and seasoned ecommerce entrepreneurs alike, pop-up stores can be a great way to take your business to the next level.

Right here, we’re going to take you through some tips to give your pop-up shop the best chance of success. We’ll look at:

First, let’s explain what pop-up shops are, for any of you first-timers reading this. 

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What is a pop-up shop?

A pop-up shop is a temporary store. 

You open it up for a finite period of time. 

For example, you can open your pop-up shop for a few months in a mall or for as little as a day at an outdoor event, like a community festival or market. Pop-up shops give experienced and beginner retailers the opportunity to: 

  • Trial new product lines
  • Meet customers in person
  • Learn who your products appeal to
  • Test marketing and branding tactics
  • And nurture relationships with leads.  


Why should you start a pop-up shop?

Ray Ko, the senior eCommerce manager of ShopPopDisplays, believes pop-up stores have become more relevant during the pandemic too. 

“The great thing about operating from a pop-up store during this pandemic is that it removes the pressure to engage in a long-term lease,” said Ko. 

“Without the hassle that comes with a traditional store, you can showcase your product, build brand awareness and extend a human connection to your consumers with your physical presence,” he added. 

This leads us to another question, for budding retail entrepreneurs and long-term retail business owners.

Should new and more experienced retailers approach pop-ups differently?

“The best moment to plan a pop-up store is when the store owner is looking to reach a new audience and gain brand exposure,” suggests Patricia Lopez, the founder of Dirt Pitch Apparel, an eCommerce brand that focuses on sportswear apparel inspired by retro soccer culture. 

“Doing it immediately after starting up might be tricky and dividing your attention at such an early stage might end up damaging your store.” 


8 tips for making your pop-up shop a success

As we’ve talked about before at Lightspeed, the pop-up shop is no longer just a retail trend. It has become a useful tool in the toolbox of retailers who are keen to get face-time with customers, leads, and other retailers.

Whether you’re opening a pop-up shop for just a day, or for a little bit longer, here are eight tips to help you get the most out of the experience.

1. Arrive early on the first day

Practice makes perfect, so get access to the physical space before the first day, if you can.

And if you can’t get there before the first day of your pop-up, get there early, to have plenty of time to set up. Some pop-up situations, like markets, may only give you an hour to ‘bounce in’. That doesn’t leave you much wiggle room for any last-minute challenges. So plan ahead.

For example, tables are often first-come, first-serve. Get there early to position yourself in a place where you know people will see your table. 

Another tip: Always bring your own fold-up table. Many pop-up venues will provide tables, but if they don’t, bringing your own prevents some last-minute stress on your part. 

2. Make your stock stand out

If clothes are your thing, you’ll need some clothing racks. If you don’t sell clothes, you’ll need other ways to properly display your items. Get creative. Think shelves, trays, boxes and other containers that will show off your products in the best light.

3. Separate your samples from your stock

You might be tempted to stack all your goods on a table or rack if this is your first-ever pop-up. Yes, that may make it a little easier to keep all the sizes there for your customer to browse and buy. But in these strange old times of ours, you probably don’t want folks touching too many items. 

Spillages do happen at pop-up stores too, especially if your pop-up is located near a food market or café. Keep the majority of your stock behind you out of sight, but put some signage out to let everyone know you have more sizes available.

4. Select your pop-up products carefully

“The main ingredient for a successful pop-up store is a laser focus on product selection,” suggests Lopez. “If you set up your pop-up with many stock-keeping units (SKUs), it will feel overcrowded and messy. Instead, work around your main products, and be sure they tell a coherent story and make sense while displayed together,” said Lopez. 

“The great thing about operating from a pop-up store during this pandemic is that it removes the pressure of a lease.” — Ray Ko, ShopPopDisplays.

5. Get paid with cash and portable POS terminals 

You’ll need a quick and easy way for people to pay you, too. 

Even Kanye needed some help to get his Amsterdam pop-up store running smoothly.

Companies like Lightspeed can help you accept and reconcile card payments while you’re on the go. More experienced retailers may want to go the whole hog, and use portable iPads and displays to show off their pop-up with some pizzazz. But start-up retailers can get by just as well with a portable POS system that will help you accept card payments, keep track of your inventory and reconcile your payments against the right SKUs.

“The pop-up model gives you the chance to adapt to different environments and measure your results while limiting your risk.” — Patricia Lopez, Dirt Pitch Apparel

And don’t forget cash. Yes, more and more people feel weird about using cash in these COVID times. But that doesn’t mean a good chunk of people won’t buy with cash. In fact, many people assume that pop-up stores only accept cash. Think about getting a lockbox and having the right quantities of notes and coins on hand for giving people change.

6. Practice COVID-safe measures

This brings us to the COVID factor. Most of you know the drill all too well by now, but here’s a quick reminder. “Wearing face masks, doing cashless transactions and promoting pick-up-only options are just some of the ways pop-up retail stores are protecting consumer safety and wellbeing during this sensitive time,” said Ko.

7. Make checkout time memorable

What do you need to help people check out? You’re going to need bags. You could have tissue paper to wrap things. Branded bags, ideally, would be awesome. That way, when people move off, they have your bag with your brand on it. Other people may see it and it may spark some curiosity. 

Giving some customers free samples or accessories is an effective way to engage them. It’s important to make sure that what you’re offering doesn’t hurt your profits too much. Giveaways might not work every time and it might be helpful to limit them to your first 20-30 customers.

If you have a flair for branding and marketing, then you could look at setting up drop sheets with backgrounds where people can snap a quick photo of themselves for Instagram or other social media channels. It doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be as simple as encouraging people to tag you on social media with a photo of their products or goodies.

8. Stay in touch with your leads

Pop-up shops are great for exposure and networking.

Hey, we get it, you want to make money. Especially if you’re paying to be there. But your number one goal should always be to create future leads.

Sometimes you won’t make as much as you thought you were going to make for that day. But networking is worth it.

  • Give people business cards so they have an opportunity to look you up afterward, to follow you on your store’s social media channels and ultimately to remember you. 
  • You can also use thank you cards, for customers who walk away from your pop-up after making a purchase. Handwritten notes are great too.
  • You can even offer pop-up customers a little discount for your ecommerce store, by providing promotional codes for purchases or newsletter sign-ups. Every little thing helps. 


Could pop-up shops work for you?

Pop-up retail shops involve a different kind of mindset. Think of them a little differently than your brick-and-mortar store or your eCommerce website, where driving sales and cart conversions are the order of the day. Pop-ups are experimental. They’re a learning experience. 


Get your pop-up shop ready in a flash

Watch a demo to see how Lightspeed can help make your pop-up shop a roaring success.

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