Setting up shop: 4 ways to successfully open a pop-up store

By Cory Levins

E-c ommerce is a major outlet for retailers of all types, but many online businesses make the choice to host physical pop-up shops to grow their consumer base and spread brand awareness. A pop-up shop can benefit your business greatly if you plan the event well, budget properly and generate the buzz you need to bring people in. If you’re thinking about hosting a pop-up event, make sure you’re prepared to stand out from the crowd by creating an ambiance and showing your customers what your brand is really all about.

What is a pop-up shop?

A pop-up shop is a short-term physical retail store. Brands that are online-only retailers use pop-up shops to give their customers a different, in-person experience. Providing the opportunity to engage more directly with their target market and consider whether or not a permanent physical store might be financially beneficial for the company.

Even with a permanent brick-and-mortar store, hosting the occasional pop-up can be useful to your business, too. Companies with physical stores will plan pop-ups in other cities where they might want a new location in the future or have a large customer base that they want to interact with face-to-face.

Advantages of a pop-up

The greatest advantage of a pop-up shop is the chance to interact with customers in person and attract potential shoppers to your brand. With a pop-up shop, you have the opportunity to create a new, unique experience for each customer. For brands that run eCommerce businesses, you can interact with customers and show them a human side of the business. It’s easier to relate to a company when you can see the creators and employees in person. You can also convey a brand voice much easier through your own actual words and embodiment of the brand.

How to open a pop-up shop

-Determine your location

The location of your pop-up is key, and it’s one of the first elements you want to focus on when planning an event. Consider hosting the event in a city where you already have many customers to meet the people who actually purchase your products and expand your influence in this area. If you get a lot of local business, keep the event near headquarters to emphasize your business’s role in the community.

Once you’ve specified the area of the country where you’re going to host the event, you need to find the right venue to match your brand. Price and space are two major factors. You want enough room to accommodate a decent number of people, but you don’t want to overpay for a huge venue that will break the bank and be difficult to pack with enough merchandise and decor. Before picking the venue, it’s beneficial to consider what type of theme or experience you want your customers to have. This will help you narrow down what exactly you will need from your space. Do some brainstorming and planning before researching potential venues. Common spaces for pop-up shops include existing stores that align with your brand (but are not direct competitors), empty storefronts or event spaces.

-Create an experience

The most unique aspect of a pop-up shop is the impermanence of the space, which allows companies the opportunity to create a unique, one-time experience. There are plenty of items that are essential to running a pop-up, but there are also added elements that can take the shopping experience to the next level. The basic items you’ll want to think about first include banners or signage and an area to display products as well as an area to keep backup stock.

However, if you’re spending money on a major event, you want to make sure you don’t create just a regular shopping experience. You want your brand to stand out and have the people who visit remember your company well after the pop-up closes up shop. Use custom packaging to display your logo or brand image to customers who purchase from you and use decor that fits with your brand voice to create a vibe for your temporary store.

-Budget for your event

Although finding the proper space for your event is important, you need to make sure that you budget properly to see some return on your pop-up shop. Conduct your research beforehand to gauge how many people you expect to attend and how much space for inventory you’ll need. Set a cap for your budget that makes sense for your business. Make sure you have all the essential items first and then account some additional money to use custom packaging and decorate the area.

-Promote your pop-up

You can plan the perfect pop-up, but it won’t make a difference if no one knows about the event. You should start marketing your pop-up shop several weeks in advance, and social media is one of the most effective channels to get the message out. Facebook and Instagram allow business accounts to target specific types of users that fit their demographic and display sponsored ads in these users’ newsfeeds. You can also use email campaigns to let subscribers know and take your advertising offline by enlisting the help of physical advertisements displayed near the space where you’ll be hosting your pop-up.

There are tons of benefits to hosting a temporary pop-up shop whether you’re an online-only retailer looking to connect with customers and test out the physical space or a brick-and-mortar store trying to expand your audience. But, to host a great pop-up, you need to put a lot of time and effort into your planning. Stick to a budget and find a venue that matches your needs and makes sense financially. Work on creating an experience for your shoppers. You want to create a lasting impression on everyone who visits your pop-up shop. Use custom packaging, unique decor and marketing materials like business cards or bags featuring your logo to help customers remember your brand. With the right approach, you’ll have shoppers returning to your store for years to come.


Cory Levins serves as the director of Business Development for Air Sea Containers. Cory oversees the development and implementation of ASC’s internal and external marketing program, driving revenue and profits from the Miami FL headquarters. Cory enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, sports and the ocean.

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