Learning how to start a pop-up shop can be a lucrative and cost-effective endeavor for retailers and restaurants looking to boost their brand or draw in more customers.
This is especially true for cash-strapped businesses since pop-up stores offer lower rents for commercial space, less commitment and require less of an upfront investment to get set-up. Whatever your reason might be to explore this option, the holiday season is a great time to do just that.
Why Pop-Up Spaces Aren’t Just a Trend
Though brick-and-mortar retail is here to stay, in the midsts of an economic recovery hundreds of shops and businesses have experienced what feels like an apocalyptic meltdown. On the flip side, as store vacancies rise, a change in the overall business landscape presents an opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs and existing business owners.
Once considered a short-term tactic to promote businesses and products, the pop-up industry is now considered a $50 billion industry. Whether you already have a storefront and are looking to expand or you’re batting around the idea of opening up your first small business, here are 3 reasons starting a pop-up makes dollars and sense for almost any business.
1. Pop-Ups Are the Perfect Testing Grounds for Business Ideas
Success in business is all about testing concepts and failing forward. If you’re testing the viability of a business idea or new product, a pop-up is a perfect place to do this. Since pop-ups don’t require a long-term lease, a pop-up store is a great low-risk way to test out a business location or how your target market would receive a product or a new selection of menu items.
2. Pop-Ups Create a Sense of Urgency
Creating a sense of scarcity is probably one of the oldest tricks in the marketing playbook. There’s a reason limited time offers work. Since pop-ups are temporary retail locations by nature, they tend to drive retail customers to make impulsive choices and increase check averages for pop-up restaurants.
3. There Many Hidden Benefits to Subleasing
Often pop-up shops sublease a commercial space which comes fully equipped. This means that shared equipment such as industrial ranges, espresso machines, and other appliances can usually be negotiated, saving the sublessee this added expense. This alone can save pop-up businesses up to 50% of what they would spend on renting a retail space. However, the main con of subleasing is that you are subject to the terms of the original lease. Make sure you request both the original lease and the sublease from the landlord and review the terms thoroughly before signing an agreement.
SEE ALSO: How to Start a Small Business 101
9 Tips for Starting a Pop-Up Business
These top tips will make starting a pop-up business a straightforward process.
1. How to Come Up With a Pop-Up Shop Concept
Before you even come up with a budget or find the right space, it’s wise to come up with a sound idea. Questions to ask yourself include what product or service is trending? What are people looking to buy? Do you possess the right knowledge about the product or service? What skills do you possess that make you an expert in running retail pop-up shops? Though the list can go on and on, these are just a few of the questions that can help you in your journey to determining your killer concept. When coming up with your theme, niche, or expertise, find an idea that you have a passion for rather than one that will require you to make a hard sell.
2. How to Find a Pop Up Shop Space
You’ve heard it before: “Location. Location. Location.” The phrase is widely used by entrepreneurs and real estate moguls who have been successful over the years. The point is simple — for a business to succeed, the location must be just right. As part of how to start a pop-up shop, looking for the right location is important, and many venues are available. Malls, galleries, festivals, and existing and vacant retail spaces are but a few.
There is tons of inspiration online for pop-up store locations, but the location must provide access to the right demographic and foot traffic. Because without the right customer, you can have the most amazing products in the world, but it won’t mean much. One of our personal favorites is holiday shopping bazaars in the park. There is nothing like a Christmas tree and hot cup of cocoa to put shoppers in the mood to spend.
3. Designing Your Pop-Up Shop
By now, you have come up with a business concept, so you know what you are going to sell. Furthermore, the right location is in your hands. Having the right location and selling the right products or services is only a part of setting up a successful pop-up shop. So, what’s next? Your pop-up shop should provide the best experience for your customers from the time they walk into your store until the time they exit. Trust us, the better your store looks, the more likely you are to be successful.
This is where branding makes its mark. Selecting the right colors, a logo that accurately portrays your brand, and the right look for your business matters a lot. Lighting, wall treatment, displays, furniture, and receipts need to have a design that reflects your brand. Need more inspiration, you can always find pop-up shop designs online for inspiration.
4. Pop-Up Shop Permit Requirements
There are legal requirements you have to observe before starting a pop-up store. A business license is one document required to run a pop-up shop. If you are selling general wares like clothes, smart devices, and art, you can seek a general business license. If you are selling food or alcohol, you need a special permit. Check your local laws for licensing requirements.
A lease is another permit you need to have. When negotiating your short-term lease, you need to know if you are allowed to modify the premises, what time is allocated to operate the business, and if there’s an option to shift from a temporary to a long-term rental. This is important, as it will help you run your business well.
5. Hiring the Right Staff
Now that everything is falling into place, you need to overcome a few obstacles. Before you open your pop-up store, you need the right people who are well trained, knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced. Your staff will help to carry out the day-to-day activities. For example, explaining different products and services to customers, directing people from one display to another, and receiving payments.
Thanks to social media, word of mouth, and the internet, it has become simpler to find potential employees. You can post a message on your Facebook page or LinkedIn and chances are you will receive a number of inquiries from locals who are interested.
SEE ALSO: How to Hire and Keep the Best Employees
6. Renting Pop-Up Shop Furniture
When starting a pop-up shop for the holidays, furniture is a necessity if you want to run a successful business that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. You’ll want to tastefully fill your space with tables, chairs, clothing racks, partitions, vintage trestle tables, crates, and easels. These items can be used as displays, as changing rooms, places for the staff to rest on, and tools for hiding sections of the shop from customers. Since a pop-up shop is a temporary business, it is best to rent rather than buy the furniture itself.
Several stores let businesses rent furniture on a temporary basis. One place you can start searching for such stores is online or on social media. Look for business pages that advertise the renting of furniture. You can also use search engines with the appropriate keywords to achieve the same goal.
7. Promoting and Marketing Your Pop-Up Business
Just because you’ve opened your pop-up shop, does not mean that customers will come flooding in. While you may attract a flow of traffic after opening, this will be only for a while. To ensure a continued flow of customers, you need to promote and market your products and service. Doing this will guarantee long-term success.
There are several ways you can achieve this; having a website with a shopping cart, through social media marketing and even online ads. You can also kick-start your business with a launch party or a press event.
8. Choosing a Quality Point of Sale System
Even though opening a pop-up shop is a temporary endeavor, you’ll still need a reliable retail POS system. A POS system will not only help you ring up sales, track inventory, and alert you when products are low, but it can also help you manage your customers and collect information on their likes and dislikes. Just because your pop-up shop is temporary, doesn’t mean you won’t pursue a more permanent storefront in the future. Having a database of email addresses already collected can help you jumpstart your brick-and-mortar efforts.
9. Closing Up Shop (it’s only the beginning)
Now that you have sold your products and services, it’s time to close shop until another opportunity presents itself. What you need to know is that the benefits associated with pop-up retail stores and eateries do not end when you close the doors to our temporary location.
When in business, it is essential to capture customer information such as names, email, social media usernames, and mobile numbers. This information can then be used for additional promotional efforts at a later date or to attract customers that are similar to your target buyers.
Whether you’re looking to test a business concept or want to expand for the holiday season, the 9 tips mentioned in this post will help you hit the ground running. Now that you understand how to get started, it’s time to put this advice into action to ensure pop-up shop success this coming holiday season and beyond.