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The Definitive Guide on How to Start Your Own Pop Up Shop

Experiential Marketing

Pop up shops are temporary storefronts intended to establish a brick-and-mortar presence, particularly for entrepreneurs that maintain a strong digital presence through e-commerce. 

They are designed to allow potential customers the opportunity to browse their goods and interact with their brand in a more intimate experience, with the intended goal of increasing awareness for their online marketplace. 

While they often take the form of a temporary location chartered for a month or two, or perhaps mobile locations (such as food trucks), they also exist as promotional events which may only last a day or three.  

Whatever form or duration the pop up shop takes, they can create a unique experience for your clientele and launch your brand to new heights. 

But what does it take to get started?

Not to worry– we will show you exactly how to start your own pop up shop!

Build the Foundation with Skillful Planning

Any time you wish to begin a new endeavor, the key to its success usually lies in the preparation stage. Throwing yourself into a significant venture without a roadmap will more than likely end in disaster, so the first step involves patience. 

While you may be excited to engage with your customers face to face and show them how incredible your products are, you want the pop up shop experience to not only be successful, but to meet a specific goal. If you do not have a good idea of what that is, take the time to figure it out.

Set a Measurable Goal

You should always have a primary goal when you are determining how to start your own pop up shop. It is fine to have secondary goals as well, but ask yourself what it is you really hope to achieve from this experience. 

Are you trying to drive traffic to your online storefront? Maybe you have an idea for a new product and you want to get feedback or test the market first. Perhaps your focus is more about the brand rather than the product – creating an incredible experience for your target clientele can help you build a positive and enduring reputation. 

Then, come up with a measurable goal. That means defining some specific parameters, whether sales numbers, online customers using a special discount code received at your event, or some other collectible data, so you can evaluate whether your objective is successful. 

Whatever you seek – establish that goal and then work backwards to design the ultimate shopping experience.  

Know Your Limits

During the planning stages, you should also set a budget. To keep your pop up venture from spiraling out of control, decide exactly how much money you are willing to spend. 

Your pop up shop duration period and the cost of your selected venue may be the major strain on your budget, but make sure to take into account more than just your rent – consider other costs, too, such as those involving promotion, product costs, payroll, utilities, etc. 

When you establish your limitations, you will know exactly what finances you have to work with so that you have a baseline to use to determine success and to mitigate risk. 

Crunch the numbers and once you have a budget that works for you and your business, stick to it! However, it is not a bad idea to include a set flex budget to account for any unexpected or unplanned expenses – an emergency fund, if you will.

Choose a Venue

There are a wide variety of options available to host a pop up shop. That means you have the opportunity to find a venue that works for you and your brand (as well as your budget). While you may have a picture of what you want your storefront to be already established, always shop around and consider the many choices at your disposal. 

Some great ideas for potential pop up shops are:

  • Temporary showrooms, such as galleries
  • Major events or festivals
  • Seasonal markets
  • A traveling store
  • Within a popular mall location
  • A site or pavilion at a park area
  • A special event at a community center
  • Setting up within existing stores
  • Locations within designated pop up communities

Those are just a small taste of what is at your disposal. Each community offers unique opportunities and locations, so do your research and compare costs. Obviously, some events are harder on the wallet than others, but you may be able to work out a deal with site representatives that fits your budget. 

Make sure to visit your pop up space before you make a final decision on your location, as this is a crucial step in not only determining your satisfaction but also entering the next planning phase.

If you feel overwhelmed at this point, don’t worry– there are actually experts out there, such as StoreFront, who exist specifically to help you find a venue for a pop up shop. It never hurts to consult with experts or professionals during any step of the process.

That extends to legal matters as well. Wherever you establish yourself, make sure that you possess all proper licenses and permissions before you set up! It is also in your best interest to consider insurance for your event or location because you can never anticipate everything that could go wrong, so as the saying goes: better safe than sorry.

Getting Set Up

Once you have chosen and acquired a venue, it’s time to actually figure out how to start your own pop up shop, and that means getting everything set up on site, so you can open for business.

Pre-Opening

Remember that it’s not as easy as just showing up and moving product in, there are some considerations you need to resolve beforehand: 

  • Are your staffing needs established?
  • Do you have a system in place for transactions?
  • Will you need storage space?
  • What design scheme will you use for your space?
  • What will your store policies be? 
  • Will you have facilities such as restrooms for your clientele? 
  • What additional supplies will you need to conduct business?
  • How are you going to promote your brand and venue?
  • What techniques will you use to bring customers into your store?
  • What is your strategy to meet your targeted, measurable goal?
  • Are there any other needs you need to fulfill before opening?

Keep in mind, it is never too soon to start building excitement over your newest venture. Social media is a great tool for spreading the word, whether through your personal or business accounts, or by making use of marketing tools and advertising to draw in your new audience.

Game Time

This is where all your planning finally becomes reality. Using the data collected through your planning phase, bring in your team (if you have one) and start designing your look or event. 

Once you have the pop up looking stellar, it is time to make a few last decisions to ready your opening.

  • Will you have any special grand opening event (if your location is intended for a month or more)?
  • Are there any special deals or giveaways you want to hold in order to encourage people to stop by your location?
  • What will your operational hours be? Is this posted clearly?
  • Is everything in your location working? Make sure to test everything to avoid any unexpected hiccups. 
  • Is your location clean and attractive? 
  • If your venue is outside, have you followed the weather to ensure it is expected to cooperate during your planned operational period?
  • Ensure that you have not violated any expectations set by the venue ownership agency and have contact information at hand in case you need to make an inquiry. 

Your needs will fluctuate based on your location, product, and operational needs, but this guide should help ensure that you are fundamentally prepared to host your event. The rule of the day is to expect the unexpected. Have as many backup plans in place as you can to ensure that your store experience is as smooth as possible for you and your clientele. 

Also, your event is a great promotional tool. Take ludicrous amounts of pictures of your brand in action!

Wrap Up

Once your pop up store experience comes to a close, hopefully you enjoyed a unique and valuable experience along with your new clients. Undoubtedly there were bumps along the road, but that is to be expected when you are managing an undertaking of such magnitude, especially if it is your first time. 

Now that your pop up venture has reached its conclusion, it is time to perform follow-up responsibilities. 

First, make sure that you have appropriately cleaned up your pop up location and returned any requested items or keys to their respective owners. Make sure to thank everyone involved that made this experience a reality, including your own staff and employees (or family members!). 

Next, evaluate your results and data from your pop up store and compare those toward your success metrics. 

Did you achieve the goal(s) you set out to accomplish? If not, what could you have done differently to meet them? 

Reflection is an important part of the process and is important so that you can learn from your mistakes, even if your project was a raving success. Take notes so that if you decide you want to repeat this experience, either in the same community or somewhere else entirely, you remember both what worked and what needs improvement. 

Take the time to reach out to your clientele after the fact (if possible) to offer your thanks, as well as featuring the event and positive outcomes on your social media, website, or advertising for your brand. Make use of any pictures from the event to promote your brand image and draw new customers. 

Now that you know how to start your own pop up shop, the next time will be even bigger and even better!

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