Pop-Up Shop Planning: 8 Tips to Help Retail Brands Get the Most Out of Their Next Event

For many small retail businesses, pop-up shops are an effective strategy to grow their brand.

The preparation that happens before the pop-up is crucial to ensure that you don’t waste time and money. Unfortunately, you can’t arrive at the venue, set up shop, and expect to see the sales pour in without any effort from your side before, during, and after the show.

Photo by Molly Smith Photography

What is a Pop-Up Shop?

Pop-up shops are a relatively low-cost option for brands to sell in-person. They are mainly a place for brands to display their products to potential customers with the ultimate goal of building brand awareness and generating sales on the spot.

Companies that participate in pop-up shops can range from emerging to established brands who use the event as an opportunity to network, grow their email list, and collect feedback from potential customers and industry professionals.

From open to close, there’s a chance you will meet your next customer.

Pop-up shops come in many forms; these are a few:

  • Partner with other brands that align with yours and with a physical location where your customers are already going. For example, if you have a yoga wear brand, you can partner with a company that sells yoga mats and hold the event at a yoga studio.
  • Partner with a market or pop-up shop planner and set up shop in their space. We Are Women Owned is a perfect example of this. The benefit of popping up at a market is that all brands who are participating and the market itself will be promoting the event.
  • Find your own space and plan the event. You can still invite other brands in this scenario, but your overall cost might be higher than the two options mentioned above.

Photo by Kelly Lockett Studio

How to Plan for a Pop-Up Shop

The more work you put into planning for your next pop-up event, the better turnout you will have.

Here we’ll look at eight tips that can help you get the best return on your investment from your next pop-up shop.

1. Define Your Pop-Up Shop Goals

Setting your intentions in advance can help you have a more successful pop-up event.

Ask yourself the following questions before the pop-up:

    • What are you hoping to achieve by participating in the pop-up event?
    • What is your sales goal?
    • Are there particular products that you’d like to sell through at the event?
    • How many new email subscribers are you hoping to get?
    • Are you looking for feedback about your products?
  • What will make the pop-up shop worth your time?

Photo by Molly Smith Photography

2. Do Your Research

Research various pop-up event partners, find out how they will promote the event and your brand. Choose a pop-up shop that aligns with your mission and targets the audience you hope to engage with.

Ask plenty of questions:

    • What is the pop-up shop’s objective?
    • What type of brands attend the pop-up shop? Do they align with your brand?
    • What type of customers can you expect to meet at the pop-up event? Do they align with your target demographic?
    • What percentage of brands return to exhibit at the pop-up shop again?
    • Will the pop-up shop promote your brand to their mailing list and on their social media channels?
  • What are the different booth options and how much do they cost? Can you share with another brand if you’re on a budget?

If possible, try to walk through the pop-up shop before signing up for future shopping events, then you’ll have a better idea of what to expect. You can also ask to speak with brands that have participated as pop-up vendors in the past, and learn from their experience.

Photo by Kelly Lockett Studio

3. Set Your Budget

How much are you willing to spend to vend at a pop-up shop event and how many sales do you need to make to break even or profit?

Defining a budget is individual to each brand, but it’s important to consider that there is a chance that you will not make as many sales as you projected. Make sure the pop-up shop cost is something you can recover from if you don’t profit.

It’s also vital to consider that even if you don’t profit while you’re physically at the event if you’re able to grow your mailing list, there is much potential to continue to generate online sales after the event. Nurture your new email subscribers to lead them on a customer journey that ultimately converts to a sale.

Photo by Molly Smith Photography

4. Plan Your Pop-Up Shop Display

Aside from bringing your product to set up shop for a day (or a few), there are additional items that you can add to your pop-up shop planning checklist. Don’t forget to think about decor.

Decorate your space with your customer in mind. For the next few days, make your booth a small-scale retail shop that is inviting and on brand. You’ll need office supplies, too.

Pop-up shop packing checklist:

    • Decorative plants and other items
    • Brand signage (logo and social media handles)
    • Pens
    • Email signup form (iPad or clipboard)
    • POS (card reader) — ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Squarespace provide free card readers to their merchants
    • Business cards and postcards
    • Shopping bags (and tissue if you use it)
    • Snacks for the attendees (and for you)
  • A cloth to cover the table surface

Photo by Molly Smith Photography

5. Know Your Brand Story

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. Sharing your compelling brand story is critical. People will want to support you and your business because they connect and resonate with your story and believe in what you stand for.

While we’re technically more connected than ever before via the Internet and social media, there is a lack of genuine, one-on-one connection and authenticity that customers are craving.

Live events are an excellent opportunity for attendees to touch, feel, see, and experience your product. They are also the perfect opportunity for brands and their founders to connect with potential customers by sharing your story.

Ask yourself these questions:

    • What life experiences inspired you to start your brand?
    • What lights you up?
    • What problem are you solving?
  • How are you changing the game?

Photo by Molly Smith Photography

6. Define Your Newsletter Signup Strategy

What’s your strategy for getting your pop-up shop visitors to sign up for your email list?

You can keep a clipboard or an iPad on a counter near your space and hope that people will signup. They will. However, if you create a plan in advance, you can increase the number of email signups that you acquire each day.

Make it fun, and test different strategies throughout the day.

Here are a few strategies that might work to acquire new email addresses:

  • Offer people a chance to win a $25 gift card for an online purchase when they sign up for your mailing list, and let them know when you’ll announce the winner.
  • Create a bold sign that lives near your email signup form that provides an incentive to signup for your mailing list. The motivation could be the gift card I mentioned above or a giveaway.
  • Introduce yourself to people passing by, strike up a conversation, tell them about yourself, your story, and your brand. At the end of the discussion ask them if they’d like to keep in touch by signing up for your mailing list.

Photo by Found Photography

7. Encourage Social Sharing

Create a fun and inviting sign near the front of your booth. Ask customers to take a photo holding one of your products and share it on social media in exchange for a discount on their purchase. Engaging with people in this way is a great icebreaker and encourages customer advocacy in a relaxed setting.  

Photo by Kelly Lockett Studio

8. Promote Your Pop-Up Shop in Advance

Make a concise plan to advertise and market your upcoming pop-up event. You can start sharing a month in advance with more frequent promotion in the two weeks leading up to the event.

Where to promote your pop-up shop:

    • Email marketing
    • Social media channels
    • Word of mouth
    • Facebook groups
  • Text messages

Tell your friends, customers, and family and ask them to share the news about your upcoming pop-up event as well.

Photo by Kelly Lockett Studio

Wrapping Up Pop-Up Shop Planning

We hope that these pop-up shop preparation tips will help you feel more confident as you get ready for your next pop-up event. The checklists we’ve provided are meant to serve as a guide to spark your creativity. We hope you’ll add your twist and find success on your terms!

Tell us about your recent pop-up shop success in the comments below.

Alexis Damen
Alexis Mera Damen is an entrepreneur and digital consultant specializing in content marketing, writing, influencer partnerships, and photography. Her clothing brand, Alexis Mera, celebrates women one graphic t-shirt at a time. When she's not glued to her computer, you can find her sweating through a challenging workout, traveling, or reading one of the three books she's trying to finish all at once.
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One comment

  1. Sarah Stavrou on

    I love participating in Pop Up Shops because I meet new people and they get a chance to see, touch and understand what I do. Making beautiful jewelry and pillows by recycling items and using resources that already exist therefore being gentle to our Planet.


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