The Guide

Creating Your Pop-Up Shop Plan

March 2, 2017

Many pop-up shops are a matter of making the math work. Generally, the formula is:

Pre-planning + Due diligence = Pop-up Shop Success

Before brands green light any pop-up experiences, it’s wise to do some homework. While you already know how hosting a pop-up shop can be a big win for your brand, these temporary retail experiences require a little pre-planning beforehand.

If you’re ready to jump into the planning process, here are some steps to nail down your needs and set up your pop up for success.

Establish Your Goals

You know the “what” of your project: You want to host a temporary retail space for your brand. But are you sure about the “why” of your potential pop up? While it’s true that pop-up shops are far less expensive than an old-fashioned store, brands still invest serious time, effort, and cash into pop ups — so it’s a good idea to do your homework.

To ensure you’re getting the most bang for your bucks (not to mention blood, sweat, and tears), take the time to sit down and work out your goals.

And that’s where the fun begins! Putting your objectives down on paper helps not only solidify your strategy, but also sets you up for success. Not to mention the planning process is a time to get creative and think outside the box about how you want your pop-up shop to stand out.

When it comes to specific goals, brands can boost their bottom line (and scratch that creative itch) in multiple ways thanks to temporary retail. So, let’s consider the following potential metrics for success:

  • Brand awareness: Flagging foot traffic getting you down? Or just want to connect to customers IRL? Build some serious brand awareness (and a bigger bottom line) with a pop up in a high-traffic area of town. Or use this as a great way to launch into a new market.
  • Customer acquisition: Instead of waiting for your customers to come to you, simply take your shop to your customers. Pop ups offer brands serious flexibility, both in location and timing. Know where most of your target customers hang out? Plan a pop up in that neighborhood or city. And because pop ups don’t last forever, shoppers can get an itchy trigger when and are likely to buy more (gotta love FOMO).
  • Customer education: Forget about replying to customer queries via endless emails — teach them about your product on the spot. Pop-up shops give brands the chance to answer questions and take feedback in person, which shows customers how you meet a need. And live product demos can up your chances of turning browsers into buyers.
  • Testing new products/markets: Pop ups are relatively inexpensive to put together, which means brands can experiment without blowing through tons of cash. Hankering to launch a new product, or tap into a new market? Pop-up shops are killer testing grounds.
  • Plugging into the community: From speaker series to giveaways to block parties, pop-up shops give brands the chance to grow deeper roots into their local community — and build brand loyalty as a result.

Set Your Success Metrics

Now that you’ve taken some time to define your goals, it’s time to look toward the future. Once all the hoopla of your pop-up shop has dissipated, what will be left? In your mind, how will this event move the needle (and exactly which needles)?

While your metrics depend on your goals, there are some common metrics brands can lean on to gauge the success of your pop-up shop. Use these as a jumping-off point when establishing your goals and their corresponding measures:

  • Shop visitors: Interested in gauging brand awareness via your pop up? Monitor the number of shoppers walking through your door. You can either manually count customers as they cross the threshold, or employ high-tech sensors like TotalCount or TrafSys.
  • Customer information: Collect data from the browsers who buy your products. Gather email addresses, scour order histories, and average purchase amounts. This can offer you valuable insights into your target audience and if your shoppers actually align with your buyer personas. Reward your valued customers for turning over their info with an incentive like a discount or tailored promotion.
  • Sales data: Digging through purchase histories and sales data offers you a number of insights, such as how many of those who entered your store actually purchased something, what was the average transaction amount, what items sold best, etc. Most of these metrics can be found on your point-of-sale system.
  • Direct feedback: Listen to the customers who walk through your door. Solicit their thoughts and feedback. How do they feel about your pop-up experience, your products, and your service? This is some of the most valuable data you can gather.
  • Buzz: While this may not seem quantifiable, gathering a few metrics will give you a great sense of how much buzz you want your pop up to create. Set goals for things like the number of social media mentions and mentions in media sources.

Create Your Budget

Yeah, we know — budgets are so fun, right?

While you work to contain your excitement, just keep in mind that creating a thorough budget (and sticking to it) helps ensure your pop up is a success. Shelling out too much cash on producing your pop up or buying excess inventory can be a real profit killer….and that certainly kills the buzz around building a unique brand experience.

When compiling your budget, consider line items from the venue to inventory to populate your shop’s shelves to fixtures, and everything in between. Try hard to think ahead, because it’s easy to spend upwards of $10,000+ on a well-appointed pop-up. For those crafty readers, you can also take the DIY approach. Source your own materials and create some of the fixtures and displays yourself to preserve a little room in your budget.

Depending on the kind of pop-up shop, your costs will vary. We recommend sitting down and considering every possible cost for your pop-up shop, including:

  • Venue rental
  • Any utility costs
  • WiFi/hot spots
  • Equipment, including a mobile point-of-sale system 
  • Fixtures/displays
  • Inventory to stock shop
  • Marketing and promotion costs
  • Staffing costs

Check out Shopify POS if you’re on the prowl for a point of sale. Photo by: Shopify

How to Find the Perfect Pop-Up Shop Venue

Picking the right pop-up venue is probably the most important part of the planning process. Your pop-up space is the ideal way to show off your brand message — not to mention that it’s the medium for making your sales. After all, the venue can help you sum up who you are in a single glance for your customers, and that can help immerse them in a fantastic brand experience.

As this is one of the most important decisions brands make when planning their pop-up shop, the choice requires some forethought. So, before diving into an agreement on a space, let’s examine a few steps to ensure you get the best space to fit your needs.

Settle on a Store Layout

What kind of store layout will create the best flow to highlight featured products and direct customers through your pop-up shop? Luckily, brands have plenty of options when it comes to optimizing your store layout.

While we’ll go into the ins and outs of visual merchandising later, the planning stage is the best time to roughly plan your shop’s layout. Whether you choose an Angular layout or a Diagonal one, map out your ideal layout.

Once you have a layout in mind, you’ll be able to look at potential spaces with a more realistic (and critical) eye.

Not sure where to start with a store layout? Charting platform SmartDraw offers a bevy of retail layout templates to give you a little inspiration.

Make a List of Wants/Needs

Do you want an open-concept venue? Do you need a temporary storefront in a high-traffic area? Or perhaps you need a small space available along the route of a big event (like a parade) in town?

Before even browsing through venue options, sit down and make a list of everything you need in a venue. While that list may include some obvious things like good lighting, an available washroom, and electrical outlets for equipment, that list should also include features that align with your brand.

So, take your branding into account when making your list of needs, deal-breakers, and wants for your space. While you can obviously customize the space to better align with your visual brand, don’t start from scratch.

Some additional things to weigh when compiling your laundry list of ideal features:

  • Foot traffic in the area
  • Competing brands in the same area
  • A front display window to catch the attention of passersby
  • Nearby parking options
  • Space in back area to hold excess inventory
  • The presence of cameras or other security measures to curb theft
  • Ample lighting, or lighting that’s adjustable
  • Washrooms available for staff and customers
  • WiFi/hot spot for a mobile point-of-sale system (like Shopify POS) and customers

Check out free Shopify POS if you’re on the prowl for a point of sale.

Search For Your Venue

Once you’ve done all your homework, now it’s time for the fun part (huzzah!).

Pop-up planners can also scroll through a platform like thisopenspace to find an available space that meets their needs.

Ready that previously prepared a list of needs and wants during the browsing process. That way, it’s simple to tick off advantageous features for each listing. Envision that ideal store layout within the dimensions of any listings that jump off the page. For specific features you’re eyeing, simply add them to your Wish List for easy comparisons.

Now comes the hard part: Weighing your options. You might need to toggle back and forth between listings on your Wish List to compare amenities, neighborhood, and pricing — we understand that it’s sometimes tough to choose.

Once you’ve picked the venue that works best for your vision, you can shoot a quick message to the host with any questions or concerns. Or just input your dates and ready, set, book!

Search for the perfect pop-up space with thisopenspace

Moving Forward With Your Well-Planned Pop-Up

Phew! As you can see, there’s plenty to think about when planning your pop up. But now that the planning process is complete, you can seamlessly move onto setting up your new space, promoting your pop-up event, and actually running your event.

Read the next part of our pop-up series: Setting Up Your Pop-Up Shop