Should I Set Up A Pop Up Shop For My Brand?
Recently we've seen a huge increase in the number of Pop Up shops opening worldwide, with retailers both small and large flocking to set up their own versions. This phenomenon offers huge benefits to product designers and brands, so I thought I'd take a look at some of the ways you can use Pop Up shops to your advantage and how you can set up a Pop Up shop for your own brand!
What Is A Pop Up Shop?
The phrase ‘pop up shop', also referred to as a 'flash shop', describes a physical store on a high street or in a shopping centre, where the brand that occupies the space is not there permanently. The space is stocked and open for a small amount of time, sometimes a day, sometimes a week, sometimes month. However long it is, everyone knows that it will soon be over, it is temporary.
How Can I Use A Pop Up Shop To My Advantage?
1. Test Growing Into A Bricks & Mortar Business
If you're an ecommerce business, pop-up shops provide a relatively low-cost way to explore adding an additional revenue stream, or fully converting to a bricks and mortar store.
1a) It's Cheaper
Launching a pop-up shop is 80% cheaper than a traditional retail store. For a brand that is not completely established, it would be pretty difficult to try to finance a full time, open ended shop. Building a brand with regular, loyal customers takes a lot of time. By launching a retail outlet as a fledgling company, you are risking a huge financial overhead, without the security of a good base level of customers. At the same time, being able to reach your customers as they are out and about doing their shopping is a wonderful way to gain new customers and admirers. So it's a bit of a catch-22 situation. In steps the "Pop Up Shop". For those brands that are seeking to expand but do not yet have the finance to do so, a pop up shop is a great middle ground to ensure that your brand can get some exposure without too much money tied up in it.
1b) To Go To Where Your Customers Are
This is an especially strong reason to do a pop-up shop when you've had some experience selling online and have some solid data on the areas or locations that your customers most frequent. The benefit of being able to select these certain streets, kiosks and vacant gallery spaces, is that they will likely be filled with other potential target customers of the same demographic who haven't heard of you yet.
1c) Create A Buzz For Your Business Before A Shop Launch
Take the incredible opportunity to create some buzz around you and your business before you take the plunge. Driving pre-orders before launching a full range and giving your potential customers a live demo or walking them through how your product works is a great way to get through to those early adopters.
2. Generate Additional Sales
Not only is it a fraction of what you'd pay for an actual physical retail location, if the concept is executed and popularised well, you could rake in a significant profit! About 95% of all purchases are still completed offline, so this is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of the retail channel and generate more sales.
3. Engage Customers Offline & Build Relationships
The pop-up retail format allows you to personally get to know your customers and build stronger relationships. There’s also something about being able to physically touch a product before you buy which adds another opportunity for your customers to fall in love with your product and you!
4. Allow Your Customers To Enjoy Your Products
As incredible as online shopping is, not being able to try on or see a product before purchasing can be a real pain point for customers. A study by Accenture also showed that 78% of shoppers are “webrooming” - browsing online, then purchasing in a store.
5. Create “Get It While It Lasts” Urgency & Increase Sales
A pop-up shop offers a limited window of time for consumers to purchase your products - a huge driver in getting customers to buy. This is why it's also a great opportunity to liquidate overstocked, end of line merchandise. Scarcity drives action through customers wanting exclusive, limited edition, or other products they can't get otherwise, and a pop-up shop puts you in a perfect position to take advantage.
6. Lift Sales Around The Holiday
Tying your brand closely with a holiday and giving consumers a physical location to access you is a great way to be opportunistic and increase the chance of a customer visiting you as well as help a little lift in seasonal sales.
7. Test New Products with New Customers
Pop up shops allow you to easily enter a new market and launch new products on the cheap. When you’re trying to sell a new product, a pop-up shop can give you the opportunity to test out your marketing materials, with real-time feedback on how it can be improved straight from the customer.
You might also have a product that's very hard to sell online because no one is actively looking for it, or people just don't find it easy to "get" - think beard oil, or plastic wrap alternatives. Pop-ups can be an effective way to demonstrate these hard-to-understand product and get people intrigued enough to either become customers there and then or great leads.
8. Generate Brand Awareness
By engaging prospective customers offline and delighting them with incredible customer service and beautiful quality products that they love, you can take the opportunity to direct them to your online store and social platforms, where they can stay in touch and become loyal fans.
Where To Start?
Starting up a retail space is incredibly daunting, so here are some very simple procedures that you can follow to ensure that your pop up shop not only opens and runs, but is successful.
Location, Location, Location
To start with, you need to pick your location. This should be somewhere interesting and suitable for your product, and at the same time, it's good to be where your natural customers already are. Driving your current customers to a shop miles from where they live or work, will be a big challenge. A high foot traffic area is essential, otherwise no one new will stumble across your pop up shop - and that's half the point!
Decide what you're willing to spend on your pop up shop. This will greatly vary depending on the format you decide on in the next step. Here are some of the costs you will need to consider:
- Credit Card Fees
- Merchandising Fixtures
- Checkout Counter
- Window Display Props
- Marketing and Promotion
- Food and Drinks
Choose Your Pop Up Format
Recently, pop up shops have grown so much in popularity, that there are a huge number of options open to you. You could look into permanent places that have the infrastructure set up to rotate different brands and enterprises. One of these is Box Park in Shoreditch. Depending on the popularity and location of these premises, this can be pretty costly. Or why not try websites such as We Are Pop Up or Appear Here who act as an "alternative to commercial property agents". Not only can you list your free free space or empty shop on there, but you can browse a list of available places and occupy one yourself! There are a huge variety of costs, as well as space types and locations.
Alternatively, to save a bit of money and cut out the middle man, you can hunt out an interesting place all on your own. Perhaps an empty shop on your high street, or even a community centre. The more imaginative, the better.
There are several things to think about with your location relating to both the location of the shop, and also the interior space. Here's a little checklist to help:
- What is the foot-traffic like in the area?
- Who are your neighbours - do they complement your brand? It's imperative that you do your market research before setting up, have a physical walk around the area and speak to local people - what do they want to see in their high street?
- Are there any events or community gatherings taking place in the vicinity?
- Is the entrance noticeable?
- How clean is it?
- Is the location accessible by public transit and is there parking nearby?
- Is there a street facing display window and will you be allowed to use it?
- Is there a stockroom & are you allowed to use it?
- Does the lighting fit your brand? Can they be dimmed or alternative lamps be brought in?
- What security is there and is there a camera to prevent theft?
- Is there Wi-Fi (particularly important if it's needed for credit card transactions) and can it be made available to customers?
- Is there a sink and a washroom?
Once you’ve done your homework and assessed whether a potential location is a good fit or not, the next step is to see the place in person during the hours the pop-up will run. Make sure to do this multiple times throughout the week at different times of the day. From there, once you've got your mind made, request to see the lease agreement.
Naturally you will want to create your pop up shop with the most return on investment that you can. One way to make more profit, is by spending less to start with. It's worth trying to reduce fit out, visual merchandising and marketing costs by offering suppliers profile as a sponsor in exchange for assistance or free materials.
You may also be able to team up with a leisure-based space provider. I've seen a men's fashion retailer popup in an East London barber shop, and a jewellery brand popup in an edgy bar - both running joint events and both benefitting from the increased footfall and customer interest.
Luckily, the current trend with retail design is quite minimalist and industrial around the edges, so your store doesn't need to look perfect. Here are some things to think about:
- What is the rental cost and what is included in this cost?
- Will you have to cover any additional utility costs?
- Is the internet or WiFi included?
- What is the deposit required to secure the venue?
Make sure that you get insurance for your project, as it is not standard with short term leases. And don't scrimp on this! The last thing that you want is to have a problem that is not covered by your insurance, that could become a major set back for your brand. Instead, get insurance that covers absolutely every eventuality for every single moment that your stock will be in there.
Employees (aka Friends & Family)
Once you've decided on your location, venue and insurance, you need help to get the stock in, kit the shop out and run it! Staffing tends to be the most expensive part of running a shop. To save money, you'll probably end up being in the shop yourself for the most part - but even us entrepreneurs need a break! So ask friends and family to help out and give yourself a well earned break every now and then. A great alternative is to take another look at your "format" (as we mentioned above), as there are some pop up shops that allow you to not only share space with other businesses, but also to divide the time looking after the shop premises between you. Leaving you with much more free time to get all your other work done!
Taking the Plunge
Before you sign anything, take a few days to thoroughly review the agreement, or better yet, have a legal professional take a look to mitigate liabilities and make sure there aren’t any shortcomings in the deal. However, if the price is right, the agreement works with your specifications, and the location is perfect for your goals, then you’ll want to put down the initial deposit to secure the venue and start planning how you're going to make the pop-up a success.
Once you’ve signed, be sure to give yourself a pat on the back and congratulate yourself on your very first pop-up space.
Create Some Buzz
Don't just sit back and wait for customers to come rushing in - because they won't! Make the most of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, post plenty of photos, engage with your customers. Hand out flyers on the day of the pop-up and get in touch with local magazines and newspapers - a lot of them will have a free calendar you can place your event in. Introduce yourself to businesses in the local area area and invite them to an exclusive pop-up launch event if you can, and use social media, especially Twitter to make contact.
The best pop-ups get people talking. They leave a lasting impression. Think about giving your shop a theme or linking it up with a national event. Why not get the place brimming with energy with live music or a free drink? Try to create a fun and quirky 'instagram moment' that leaves customers with an experience to share with friends.
If It Doesn't Work Out
When you first open up your pop up shop, the thing is to remember is that it is an experiment. There is no hard and fast rule for success when it comes to running a pop up shop. You may have used your best sales techniques and run an incredible in-store marketing campaign, but you still may not have made a profit. That does NOT mean that your company is a disaster or a failure. You will find that your brand awareness has increased, which will more than make up for the slight loss in immediate finances - all of the people that saw your brand and liked them could later go online and look for you. That means that you could be making sales later on that can be traced back to your pop up shop. Don't think of it as a loss, think of it as a marketing spend.
Opening up a pop up shop for your brand is not for everyone, but for many people it can be the first step to success. Whatever you do, do your research, talk to others who've gone through the same process and give your pop up the best exposure you can and the best chance for success!
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