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How to open a pop-up shop

The festive season is almost here – which makes it the perfect time to open a pop-up shop. A pop-up shop is a temporary retail outlet which can last for anything from a few hours to a few weeks and is a great way to make the most of special occasions such as Christmas when customers are actively looking for interesting products to buy.

Pop-ups are a fantastic low-cost way of doing business as they not only provide the opportunity to generate sales from new customers, they also give you the freedom to try out new products and locations in a low-risk way.

But if you have never done one before it can be daunting to know where to start, so here’s how to do it right:

1. Choose a good location

Location is key to creating a successful pop-up because unlike permanent shops, you don’t have time to slowly build awareness through word of mouth. Choose a place that will have lots of people walking by, but just as importantly choose a location where your target customers are likely to spend time. There is no point trying to sell skateboards in an area where young families typically socialise, for example.

2. Choose the right kind of space

Don’t limit yourself to an empty shop – the joy of pop-ups is that they can be held in any kind of vacant premises – how about an art gallery, garage, marquee, village hall, hotel lobby or train station? You could even create a travelling pop-up in a rented bus or caravan.

3. Be creative

The fun of opening a pop-up is that it is, for now, not forever, which means that you can use it as an opportunity to experiment. So be bold and try out new product lines, new branding, new pricing, new packaging and new ways of selling. This is the perfect time to unleash your creativity because if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter – and if it does, you could discover a great way to turbo-charge your business.

4. Get the paperwork right

Check with the landlord or the local council to see if you need any kind of licence or permit to run your pop-up, and make sure you get the right insurance too. Public liability insurance is particularly worth considering as it protects you if a customer is injured or their personal property is damaged while on your premises.

5. Organise how you are going to take payments

Many customers are likely to want to pay by debit or credit card, so you need to kit yourself out with a card payment machine or mobile card reader so you can take payment for purchases on the spot. Fortunately, XLN can help with this – we offer portable card machines and mobile card readers to suit your needs. Check them out here.

6. Create a buzz

Turn your pop-up into a truly interactive experience by holding events inside your space which are related to your product – how about putting on a cooking demonstration, a fashion show, a book reading or a glitzy launch party. In addition, let customers try your products for themselves and make it easy for them to share pictures of your pop-up on social media by creating a selfie wall or memorable sign for them to photograph.

7. Spread the word

Your pop-up is only going to be around for a short time so you really do need people to know when it is happening. Spread the word by announcing it on social media, emailing your customers, handing out flyers, putting up posters, sending out a press release to local media. Consider too posting behind-the-scenes footage of your pop-up being set up on your social channels ahead of the opening and give potential customers a sneak preview of the products you will be selling. Invite influencers and bloggers to visit, and get some branded T-shirts made for you and your team to wear on the day.

8. Pay attention to customers

Holding a pop-up gives you an amazing opportunity to interact directly with your customers – and to get their unfiltered comments, advice and feedback. And don’t just listen to what they say about your products – watch carefully to see how they react to them and the price you are charging. If you pay attention you will learn a huge amount.

9. Take the time to follow up

Extend the impact of your pop-up by staying in touch with people who visited – share photos of the event with them, sign them up to a newsletter, offer them an incentive to visit your website. Then evaluate the success of your pop-up by measuring how it matched up to your expectations for the criteria you most value, such as sales, number of customers, and interest generated on social media.


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