Small brands do it. Luxury brands do it. Artists and independent makers do it. But most businesses looking to scale from 3 to 50 stores fail to capitalize on it. It’s called a ‘pop up,’ and this retail concept is revitalizing the way customers discover new brands
There are many benefits to pop ups, like bespoke customer experience, new revenue streams, audience targeting, offline conversations and customer engagement, brand awareness and more. Retailers that host pop ups reach audiences further and generate discussion, awareness, and education around their brand with new and existing customer segments.
Some of the world’s top retailers have hosted highly successful pop-ups, but you don’t have to have a big retailer budget to create a buzzworthy pop-up. Instead, you can optimize a pop up on a small retailer budget while still serving up a unique customer experience for shoppers.
Want to grow your customer reach? Host a pop up
Pop-ups are no longer a trendy, temporary retail experience reserved for big brands. The industry itself has grown to over $10 billion in sales, and 39% of shoppers purchase from pop-ups to find unique products and discover new brands.
Aside from increased brand awareness, pop-ups give retailers the opportunity to drive sales and grow their customer reach. Think of it this way…
- Pop-ups allow you to engage with customers online and offline by promoting your pop up and products across multiple channels – that engagement can lead to customers spending 9% more than their disengaged counterparts!
- You can demo new products to explore their efficacy and whether there is a demand for a product you might add to your lineup
- Pop-ups can be cost-effective depending on your approach and can help you test whether a new physical location could perform well in a certain area or neighborhood
- They allow you to test out new markets and customer segments
Pop-ups are a great way to sell those items by creating a sense of scarcity or urgency. You can also unload old inventory and promote new items, or market your pop up around a specific season or time of year – like Christmas or Spring.
Don’t forget the experience that pop-ups generate for customers. Shoppers now spend more money on experiences than products, which poses a challenge for retailers that want to keep foot traffic to physical spaces high. Pop-ups present the opportunity to create something unique and experiential that people go out of their way to visit and purchase from!
NYmag, for example, created a pop up called ‘I Found It At The Strategist,’ a physical space where customers could purchase a range of products picked by editors from NYMag. Wrangler, the popular denim brand, hosted a pop up where singers modeled their jeans and customers could record songs in an onsite recording studio. Glossier (a direct-to-consumer online beauty brand) made a pop up in Miami that created sensory experiences so customers could explore their products; the brand also used the pop up to test the market for a physical store.
Smaller retailers can use big brand pop-ups as inspiration without blowing their budget. Below, we’re sharing insight into how you can host a pop up that is budget-friendly to help grow your brand.
Deciding on the type of pop up you want to host
Before you begin planning your pop up, you need to decide what kind of pop up you’d like to host.
Common pop up types include:
- Event booths
- Mall or galleria
- Retail (vacant)
- Store within a store
- Booth (showroom)
- Mobile (vehicle or movable booth)
The type of pop up you choose to move forward with will depend on your budget, the type of product you sell, and the audience you want to reach. You’ll also want to decide on the length of your pop up – would it be an exclusive one-week pop-up or a three-month pop-up?
For example, a retailer that sells wellness teas would do well hosting a longer-term pop up inside of a local fashion boutique or fitness studio, but a shoe retailer could host an exclusive pop up using an empty retail space in a busier area to showcase different designs and generate demand.
In some cities, malls or commercial spaces are developed to be dedicated solely to pop-ups, which is another option for smaller brands depending on budget and scope. Herschel, a Canadian bag and travel accessories brand, has hosted several different types of pop-ups, including retail (vacant space) and events (booths/displays).
Outlining your costs to host a pop up
Some costs associated with hosting a pop up will vary while others may be fixed and won’t fluctuate regardless of how much product you sell. Outlining potential costs at the outset will help you better prepare for budgeting out your pop up.
Some fixed costs to consider can include the rental/lease of a pop-up space, wages you’ll pay to employees working the pop-up, utilities and internet. Costs that are likely to fluctuate can include elements like marketing and inventory.
Working on a limited budget means understanding what you do and don’t need in your pop up – you’ll have to consider costs like design and decor, so having a clear picture of what the maximum spend for your pop up looks like will help you optimize your pop up from the get-go.
Finding the right location
Once you’ve settled on the type of pop up and have an understanding of what your max budget is, you can begin scoping out the right location for your pop up.
To keep things budget-friendly, consider using a turnkey location – a storefront or retail space that is ready to use and outfitted with the basics of a store, like shelving, fixtures, display areas, and even utilities. You can customize the space using decor pieces like furniture, hanging art, lamps, desks, or other pieces you already own.
To find the right location, ask yourself the following:
- The neighbourhood – what is the best neighborhood or area in your city for your pop up?
- The space – how much outfitting of the space do you have to do/pay for?
- The options – what spaces are available for your preferred date and time?
- The cost – would a shared space be more cost-effective than a stand-alone vacant retail space?
- The experience – does the location/space allow you to create a unique in-store experience for customers?
Doing it all on a small brand budget
If you’re working with limited resources, you can leverage existing assets to keep your pop up on budget and successful.
You can use a turnkey pop up as we mentioned above, or outfit a used shipping container as an alternative space that requires little to no setup.
Another option is to facelift existing elements like store shelves and product displays using a fresh coat of paint. You can also consider using your own storefront and section off space for a mini pop-up to sell limited product features or promote new items.
The key to keeping your pop up budget-friendly is to capitalize on what you already have and carefully think about the length of your pop-up. A week-long pop up may be more cost-effective for you than a month-long one, and if you can use fixtures from your own store, you cut down on unnecessary costs.
Collaborating with other merchants on a pop up is also a great way to host a pop-up store without going all-in, cost-wise. You’ll benefit from cross-promotion while spending less on a physical space, utilities, and design.
And, if you need decor or items to fill the space, look to discount furniture stores, used antique/flea markets, or your friends, who may loan you a piece or two – this will cut down on a significant area of cost, and you won’t have to sacrifice the design aesthetic of your pop up!
DON’T FALL BEHIND ON THE TIMES
If you’re not harnessing iterative design updates or keeping your store up with the times, you’re missing out on sales and customer experience. At CBSF, we’re passionate about helping retailers put their best store forward. Interested in learning more about our services? Let’s chat!