Physical Ecommerce? 3 Things to Know About Pop-Up Shops

So, you’ve established your own brand using an  ecommerce store builder and gathered a wide audience of dedicated and loyal customers; and now you want to take your ecommerce chops into the real world. Below are a few tips for creating your own pop-up shop.

But first, what is a pop-up shop? A pop-up is a temporary retail location that affords ecommerce vendors a chance to reach real-world consumers and provides shoppers with a chance to see and experience your merchandise in way they wouldn’t online.

The concept of flash retail has been around for years. Costume shops, for instance, tend to appear just before October and disappear right after Halloween. But the trend really took off in the past few years. During the Great Recession, building owners made money by briefly renting out empty store fronts to ecommerce SMBs and large-scale retailers.

Pop-up shops are an exciting way to connect with shoppers, generate new business and reinvent the typical ‘brick and mortar’ experience.

Your Location Matters

As any real estate expert will tell you, “location, location, location.” Where you decide to set up your pop-up will determine your success.

  • Does the area have good foot traffic? If so, does the area attract the kind of shoppers you are trying to reach?
  • Does the venue have enough space? Consider how much room you’ll need for merchandise, customers, employees, live music, DJs or whatever else.
  • Can you make the space your own by adding art, window decals and more?
  • Does the location have Wi-Fi and electricity? Unless you are only accepting cash (not recommended), you’ll want to be sure your POS system can be connected to the web.
  • Is there competition nearby? Do you expect competition to help or hinder your sales?
  • Is the venue indoor or outdoor? How will the weather impact your shoppers?
  • Does the space fit in your budget?

It’s Important Generate Buzz

While ample foot traffic might attract new customers, you shouldn’t neglect your longtime loyalists. Invite your social media followers and email subscribers to join the fun! Offer them a chance to see and try on your products in person, meet with your founders and spread the excitement.

It’s super easy to create an event page on Facebook that informs your audience with details such as time and place, what will be offered and any special deals. Twitter, on the other hand, should be used for quick updates (e.g. “Filling up quick, arrive soon before it’s gone.”). Instagram is another great way to garner attention online by using eye catching images and video.

You can also use strategic partnerships and sponsorships to get the word out. For example, there may be a prominent style blogger in the area you might want to reach out to; or perhaps there is an interested food critic who would jump at the chance to come in for a demonstration.

Securing Seasonal Sales

One final thing you need to consider is when you should start your pop-up experiment. Ecommerce sites run year-round, but you might see more foot traffic in the summer or find customers are more willing to buy around the winter holidays. Do a little market research to assess the best time to set up shop.

Do your sales slump consistently during the same time of year? Host special in-person offers at your pop-up to boost your earnings during lethargic months. Trying to launch a new product? Time things just right to get the most from your customers.

Pop-ups and flash retail aren’t for everyone. To be honest, it’s a lot of work. But the benefits of expanding brand awareness and reaching customers in a new and exciting way is too much to pass up for some. After you’ve successfully tackled your first pop-up you can think about regional tours, retail partnerships and more. Enjoy!